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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 245

Senator BROWNHILL (Deputy Leader of the National Party of Australia) (6.57 p.m.) —I move:

  That the Senate take note of the document.

We are currently in the fourth year of the decade of landcare. As the Senate knows, the Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs has started an inquiry into landcare. Submissions we have received and evidence that we have taken certainly indicate a high level of awareness of what landcare is all about and what the organisation aims to achieve.

  Landcare Australia is a non-profit company established in October 1989 as part of the strategy of the decade of landcare. It receives administrative funding of about $700,000 from the federal government. Otherwise, it seeks outside assistance. The report clearly sets out the company's objectives. Before I talk about the company's objectives, we should pay a tribute to Rick Farley from the NFF and Philip Toyne from the ACF for the work that they did in increasing awareness, through both the farming communities and the ACF, so that these can work together in the decade of landcare. I think that has been one of the big achievements.

  The evidence that they gave us earlier this week, which was public evidence, would make good reading for all those people who are interested in looking after our heritage, which is basically the land. If we do not look after it, we will not have our productive resources for the future.

  The objectives to develop a landcare ethic amongst all Australians are very admirable and very important to encourage and stimulate public awareness of the importance of landcare and the adoption of landcare principles, to encourage and stimulate public participation in landcare activities, to encourage and facilitate education on landcare principles in schools and the community generally, and to educate and disseminate all forms of information through all media to promote the objects of the company.

  I think that is important to note while we are talking about landcare tonight. Quite a few people wish to speak about it. I know Senator Sandy Macdonald, my colleague from New South Wales, wishes to speak about it, and I imagine Senator Crane and others do as well.

  Landcare's object is also to develop activities to attract corporate and community funding to appropriate projects consistent with the objects of the company and to distribute funds to appropriate projects consistent with the objects of the company.

  If we look at subsequent pages of the report we see clear evidence that it is meeting those objectives. Sponsorship, for example, has grown from $461 million in 1991-92 to $838 million in 1992-93. Awareness campaigns are having an impact. Surveys suggest that nearly 50 per cent of all Australians—35 per cent in the city and 60 per cent in the country—know what landcare is all about.

  The most outstanding thing about the awareness campaigns undertaken by Landcare Australia is that they are showing that looking after our land—air, water and soil—is the responsibility of everyone. Promotions undertaken include involvement of companies like Uncle Toby's, raffles involving the Ford Motor Company, a school video competition and a new water quality 50c coin launch. These are the sorts of activities we need in order to educate Australians, particularly in cities, about the importance of caring for our environment.

  Landcare activities now come in many various formal and informal programs. In New South Wales, landcare groups have grown from 340 in 1992 to over 500 by July 1993. That sort of expansion is happening across Australia. I pay tribute to Jim McDonald from my area on the Liverpool plains who has done such a fantastic job for the landcare movement in the area. But funds are not keeping up with demand and there is a great risk that the enthusiasm that has been created by all this promotion will fade and pass if funds are not forthcoming.

  Evidence given to the Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs yesterday showed that while the federal government uses a figure of $105 million when referring to environment/landcare type works, the more accurate figure is under $5 million. That is not much to spread across all the worthwhile projects in Australia. When we consider that was the initial amount spent on establishing the gardens around Parliament House, we realise just how inadequate that amount must be for the whole of Australia. I commend the Landcare Australia annual report to the Senate.