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Transcript of interview with Grant Goldman: Breakfast 2SM Sydney: 9 September 2009: [small grants for local environmental and land management work]

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The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Tony Burke - interview with Grant Goldman, 2SM 1269AM Sydney Breakfast

9 September 2009

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke 2SM 1269AM, Grant Goldman


GRANT GOLDMAN: Some good news came across my desk this morning. The Rudd Government has listened to the concerns of community groups and yesterday announced that it will provide small grants for local environmental and land management work. The $5 million program is expected to provide up to 500 grants of between $5,000 and $20,000 to support smaller local projects run by groups such as Landcare and Coastcare as well as Indigenous groups. The on-line application process and paperwork has also been simplified to make it easier for community groups to apply.

The Community Action Grants will be funded through Caring for our Country and are designed to support some groups who have not yet received funding. Eligible community groups include groups involved in coastal rehabilitation, restoration, and conservation; groups of farmers or land managers working on sustainable farming or improving natural resource management; Indigenous partnerships involved in protecting or improving the environment; community groups involved in biodiversity, environmental protection or managing natural resources. So there’s some good news all round, I think, as long as we make it work. Tony Burke is on the line, good morning Tony.

TONY BURKE: G’day Grant

GRANT GOLDMAN: So the question is, how do we make it work?

TONY BURKE: Well this whole announcement came essentially out of consultation on the ground. As you would know, I don’t spend a tremendous amount of time inside an office in this particular job.

GRANT GOLDMAN: Well, there would be questions asked if you did.

TONY BURKE: That’s right and everywhere I go, you constantly get small local Landcare groups and Coastcare groups saying, we don’t want to make a big application for a major amount of funds. We just want a small amount of money so we can repair our sand dunes or put trees and vegetation back along the side of a river; we don’t want to have the big applications but we don’t need the big money either and can you find a way to have a small grants process?

So out of that I spoke to [Minister for the Environment] Peter Garrett, because we manage this one together, and we agreed that we should put $5 million on the table for grants smaller than $20,000 but bigger than $5,000 and we would have a simplified application process. That way, they can get the money and get on with the work because these groups are incredibly motivated people.

GRANT GOLDMAN: And people who give their time for free.

TONY BURKE: That’s right and they’re a bit more interested in giving their time, revegetating the nation, than they are in giving their time filling out forms.

GRANT GOLDMAN: True, let’s be honest too. Governments in the past have been only too willing to grant big money to one company to do whatever. Usually you pay over the odds.

TONY BURKE: That’s right, the other thing is when you give it to a group like this, how much more does your money multiply? All that labour that they’re giving for free, all the work, and they leverage a whole lot of extra donations of equipment, whether it be the shovels or whatever. They can do good work far more efficiently than you could if you tried to coordinate it from on-high.

GRANT GOLDMAN: Has this been fast-tracked? Do you reckon we’ll see results in the coming months?

TONY BURKE: One of the other benefits from having a small grants system is that once the money goes out, the work starts the next day, usually.

GRANT GOLDMAN: Yeah, there’s no big meetings and checking of the land and do some testing of the soil etcetera, etcetera. It’s usually done straight away.

TONY BURKE: That’s right. So it will be a couple of months of guidelines being formalised and applications being received, there will be that process. But once the money is announced, once the small grants happen and people get their cheque and whack it in the account of their local community group then you’ll find the next weekend people will be out there planting trees or getting the dunes back.

GRANT GOLDMAN: Great news. Well a lot of people will be ringing in this morning, I know, saying ‘how do I get involved in my community’?

TONY BURKE: Yeah, well what they should do is to go to the Landcare website or they can do it through my Department’s website - those are the two options there. If they go to, if they go there they will be able to find out about the program and get in contact with the local groups.

GRANT GOLDMAN: I’m sure many people will be taking advantage of that. Congratulations. Thanks for your time.

TONY BURKE: Good to be back, see you.