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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6019

Mr CHESTER (Gippsland) (20:45): Thank you, Minister. My question is, similarly, quite brief. Minister, in 2007 the government allocated $3 million over three years to improve land management practices to reduce the nutrient levels of water flowing into the Gippsland Lakes. Naturally, that is directed at the threat of algal blooms, which have been quite a blight on the lakes over the past 20 or 30 years. That money was managed by the West Gippsland CMA in consultation with the Gippsland Lakes task force. To the best of my knowledge, there is no commitment for the continuation of funding in this current budget cycle. I am interested to know whether the minister can provide an update on the success and/or failure of the program and whether there is any intention to provide additional funding in the future for these types of practical environmental initiatives and for monitoring the Gippsland Lakes and river catchments?

From my experience, providing seed funding for landholders and farmers and then leveraging off that money and providing the capital works has been very successful in the Macalister irrigation district and has proven to be a good model. I am interested in knowing what the government's response to that is. Also, given that the new Victorian state government has allocated $10 million in its term for the Gippsland Lakes projects, I think there is a real opportunity for the Commonwealth to work in partnership with the state government and leverage off that funding.