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Environment promises and programs savaged

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Senator Meg Lees Australian Democrats Deputy Leader and Environment Spokesperson

21 August, 1996__________ MEDIA RELEASE 96/496


THE Federal Budget environment package is a catalogue of broken promises and massive cuts to vital green programs, which ultimately will lead to a lot less money being spent on the environment, the Australian Democrats say.

"This Budget has revealed the Coalition's environment funding as a mirage - the closer you get, the more it disappears," Democrats Environment Spokesperson Senator Meg Lees said.

Ecologically sustainable development is completely overlooked in favour of bolstering the energy hungry, fossil fuel industries.

"Greenhouse programs, renewable energy programs, paper recycling, protection of biodiversity, world heritage areas funding and the promising ethanol fuel industry have been all but decimated in the Budget," Senator Lees said.

"Even if the Coalition's Natural Heritage Trust Fund operates as planned, this Budget package means much less will be spent per year on the environment than was spent in the past year.

"There are a series of strange statements supporting the environment Budget cuts. For instance, in cutting the ethanol bounty Senator Warwick Parer (not Senator Hill) said '...(the scheme) has not established a robust industry and production costs have not come down’.

"But this clean, fledgling industry was never anticipating producing ethanol at a cost competitive price before the Year 2000! This is also another blow, another lost opportunity, for rural Australia.

"There is more assistance to developing new mines, but less for developing national estate areas. Endangered species programs have been cut in half, while defence spending is boosted."

Senator Lees said decisions about environment funding and this year's Federal Budget would be discussed as a matter of urgency in the Democrat party room.

To arrange comment contact Kelly Westell on (06) 277 3765. For comment between 6.30am and 8.00am contact Meg Lees on 0418 804 505. For more information contact Susan Brown on (06) 277 3169.


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