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Report supports Democrats' call for urgent core budget funding for environment

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Senator Meg Lees A ustralian Dem ocrats Deputy Leader and Environment Spokesperson

27 June, 1996_________ MEDIA RELEASE 96/365


THE Australian environment is struggling - with old growth forests still being logged, and greenhouse gas emissions and air, water and soil pollution on the rise - and urgent action is needed to address the problems, the Australian Democrats say.

Commenting on the State of the Environment Report released today, Democrats Environment Spokesperson Senator Meg Lees said it was obvious immediate funding was needed.

"This report supports our belief the Australian environment is vitally important for future generations and deserves funding - in its own right - from consolidated revenue just as like other program from this Government," Senator Lees said.

"We should not have to choose between one public asset like our natural environment and another public asset like Telstra.

"The Natural heritage Trust Fund proposed by the Coalition Government will fall well short of repairing the extensive damage outlined in this State of the Environment Report.

"We are hearing from experts time and time again that $1 billion will not even cover the expense of healing our dying Murray Darling Basin let alone the rest of the country.

"This report emphasises what the Democrats have been saying all along - the Natural Heritage Trust Fund bill concentrates mostly on landcare type initiatives without realistically addressing the overuse of resources and the pollution of our air, water and soil.

"The report also highlights a government which on one hand says 'let's mend the damage of the past’ and on the other is still allowing logging of old growth forests and has the reputation for the worst per capita emissions for all greenhouse gases in the world.

"Our country is too precious and unique to be held to ransom by a government more interested in its privatisation agenda."

To arrange an interview contact Kelly Westell on (06) 277 3765.


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