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Plants to die due to Natural Heritage Trust bungle.



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KELVIN THOMSON Press Release from the Shadow Minister for Environment & Heritage - Member for Wills

PLANTS TO DIE DUE TO NATURAL HERITAGE TRUST BUNGLE

Up to 40,000 plants ordered and paid for with Natural Heritage Trust money are set to die due to a Howard Government bungle.

Landcare groups at Newstead, Guildford and Sandon in Central Victoria have joined forces to fence off and plant corridors of native vegetation to link existing remnant vegetation on private land.

Plants were ordered and paid for, and fencing work commenced. This work has come to an abrupt halt because the Green Corps labour force has vanished. The reason for this is that the Howard Government has taken the tender for Green Corps providers off Conservation Volunteers Australian and awarded it to Greening Australia.

I have no view one way or the other about the merits of this decision. What is unacceptable, however, is that the Howard Liberal Government failed to put in place any arrangements for continuity of labour. As a result the Conservation Volunteers Australia labour force has gone, and the Greening Australia one will not become available until November at the earliest.

This is too late in the season to be planting, so a whole planting season will be lost. Even worse, tens of thousands of plants will perish because they have not been planted, trees already planted will not be properly maintained, and the goodwill of farmers who have participated constructively in this process will also be eroded.

Yet again Natural Heritage Trust money has been wasted due to a Howard Government bungle. I am writing to Environment Minister Kemp urging him to intervene and act to provide these Landcare projects with the necessary labour before the spring planting season runs out.

There can be no excuse for inaction. Every year the Government fails to spend tens of millions of Natural Heritage Trust dollars allocated in the Budget. Here is a classic case of a good project being ruined. Dr Kemp must act to preserve it.

A copy of the Landcare letter to me, and contact details for Landcare spokespersons, are available on request.

For Further Information; Kelvin Thomson MP Phone: 9350 5777 Mobile: 0419 594 882 Gavan O’Neill Phone: 9350 5777

Mobile 0417 118 146

EMBARGOED UNTIL 10th August 2002