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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6468

Senator Webber asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 15 October 2002:

What plans, if any, does the Government have to celebrate the International Year of Freshwater in 2003, particularly given the importance of freshwater to Australia.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The Minister for the Environment and Heritage has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The availability of freshwater for human consumption, agricultural production and ecosystem health is of vital importance to all Australians. The proclamation of 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater by the United Nations General Assembly provides additional opportunities for Australian communities to learn about and become more involved in freshwater issues.

The Government is developing a joint approach between the Environment and Heritage, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry portfolios to coordinate information, activities and events across Australia for the International Year of Freshwater 2003.

As an initial foundation action Environment Australia will host a website, linked to the official international website, which will provide information on issues, events and contacts. A number of Australian events will focus on freshwater issues including National Water Week, Science Week, World Wetlands Day, Biodiversity month and the International River Symposium. Key organisations and individuals are to be invited to participate in a network to coordinate and promote activities throughout 2003.