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Speech by the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation at the official launch of the Australian Government's Community Water Grants Programme Bremer River, Ipswich, Queensland: 30 June 2005



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Speech at the official launch of the Australian Government's Community Water Grants Programme

Bremer River, Ipswich, Queensland - 30 June 2005

Thanks very much Pam Usher from Greening Australia, and good morning ladies and gentlemen.

What a fabulous day to launch the Australian Government's Water Initiative with our Community Water Grants Program. And I, like all of you, am absolutely delighted that we're huddled under this marquee, with the rain, not quite pelting down, but there. It's a great day for Australia and, fortunately, this rain is quite widespread around the country, and we hope that it might be perhaps a signal to the end of the drought.

Of course, the rain makes us realise what a precious commodity water is in Australia. And, in Australia, one of the driest continents on this planet, we do need to preserve and protect our water, and get the best use out of it. So I'm delighted to be with you on this rainy day to launch this particular program.

I did want to thank Pam Usher from Greening Australia and their group for being in charge of this particular project. I also wanted to recognise Cameron Thompson, the Federal Member for Blair, a great friend of the environment and conservation in all of its forms, and a very great friend of this particular part of Queensland. Thanks for coming along Cameron.

I should also recognise a few 'ex's' that I'm familiar with out of the political era. I see David Beddall here. David, of course, is a former very distinguished Minister for Resources and it's good to see David. Jean Bray, former distinguished Mayor; g'day Jean, and, of course, John Nugent an old mate of mine, who tells me he's doing more work now that he's involved in these natural resource management issues then he ever did as Mayor of Ipswich. I know that's not true; John was a great Mayor of Ipswich. And I thank the

Ipswich City Council, and there would be some representatives here, for its particular part in all of this as well.

I want to start off by again doing what Pam did and that is recognising, as well as Greening Australia and the Ipswich City Council, Wingate Properties, Australian Hardboards Ltd, Australia Meat Holdings, Readymix, Powerlink, the South East Queensland Western Catchment Group and Theiss. - some of the major companies involved in this initiative. And I'm delighted to see that this particular project is such a unique partnership of conservation groups, business groups, councils, the State government and the Main Roads Department. It's really fabulous to see.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Australian Government's water initiative has a number of components; but, the particular component we're launching today Australia-wide is a project that both I, as Conservation Minister, and Senator Ian Campbell, as Environment

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Minister, are launching. He's launching his in Perth and I'm launching mine here in the Ipswich region. We do want to give this Community Water Grants Program a great launch, and what a better place than this to do that.

This program is all about water savings and efficiency. It's about recycling and reusing water, and it's about improving our river and groundwater health, and this particular project on the Bremer River is so very much a part of those goals.

We want to save water and use it more efficiently, with water saving devices, perhaps schools putting in dual flush toilets - things like that. We want to reuse and recycle, and promote grey water (treated effluent) use, and we want to make money available for that, and we want to improve river and ground water health by helping groups who are dealing with erosion and sediment run-off, people who might be cleaning up some waterways or wetlands, people who are stopping pollution running into our streams and rivers.

And the Australian Government's Community Water Grant is all about helping communities do those sorts of things. We're providing up to $50,000 to individuals, groups, communities, service clubs, schools, universities, conservation groups, hospitals even, multicultural groups, churches - anyone. Local governments, councils who are doing things that will help us save water, use it efficiently, recycle, re-use and improve our river and groundwater health.

That money is available, but it is part of an overall $2 billion Australian Water Fund. Part of that fund goes into major projects, but there is $200 million allocated towards this Community Water Grants Program. So we're looking for organisations to apply for that money with practical projects that will actually do something positive for our precious water resources.

Ladies and gentlemen, as part of the demonstration round, the first round of that Community Water Grants Project, we did fund some 27 projects right around Australia, and one of those is this Bridge-to-Bridge project that Greening Australia is most involved in. The Bremer River is seen as one of the most polluted in this part of the world, and it needs attention, and it's a great credit to all of those who have been involved in this campaign that will help the repair and, hopefully, make much cleaner the Bremer River and all of the rivers that are associated with it.

As I mentioned, this is a very unique partnership between business, which I'm delighted to see getting so involved, communities, councils and the State and Australian Governments. There'll be a lot of work being done here to help improve the health of the Bremer River - 150 hectares of the riparian zone for example, are being looked after - and that's simply fabulous to see.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think you probably might all know, but I'm told there are three sites that are going to benefit from this funding. The first is within the Bremer Business Park, which is a joint venture with Australian Hardboards Ltd. I like talking about Australian Hardboards Ltd because, as Forestry Minister, I know that many people have the wrong impression about our forestry, wood and paper industries in Australia. Australian Hardboards is a great company, and obviously a very environmentally concerned one that does great work, as do indeed most of the wood and wood product companies around Australia.

We, of course, think, along with industry, that you can have a good forestry industry, and you can protect old growth and other very special forests, and, at the same time, you can

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add to the health and wealth of our country by creating jobs and looking after country communities.

So, it's great to see Australian Hardboards involved in this; also Windgate Properties, they're involved and there'll be significant re-vegetation along the river.

The second site is the Blue Gum Reserve, it's owned by the Ipswich City Council and the Department of Main Roads, and there is going to be a lot of re-vegetation work done there.

The third part of the project is the Readymix quarry site on Sandy Creek, which is a tributary of the river. The project will continue to improve the already quite significant revegetation work done there, and on the adjoining land, to improve the quality in both waterways.

It's good to see Simon Warner here from the South-East Queensland Western Catchment Group and, of course, that is the natural resource management group charged with helping the Australian and Queensland Governments deliver the Natural Heritage Trust

and the National Action Plan for Water and Salinity. It's also good to see the South-East Queensland Western Catchment Group so very involved with this. It's great to see you all there.

Ladies and gentlemen, with those words, thank you very much for coming along today, particularly those involved, and, I suspect, that's most of you, in this particular project. Can I thank you very much for the work you've done? I hope the little bit of money we're putting in as the Australian Government will help you achieve your goals.

There are enough of you around who understand, have a bit of what I call 'grantsmanship', and I'm sure if you run out of money you'll always be applying again for the Australian Community Water Grant, or our Envirofund Program. I know that you'll use taxpayers' money very, very wisely.

Thanks very much for all you do, thanks for coming along today and with that I officially launch the Australian Community Water Grants Program.

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© Commonwealth of Australia 2002-2005 | Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry | Other DAFF Ministers | Prime Minister

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