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Landcare grants, but not enough.



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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Landcare grants, but not enough…

Three Murray electorate organisations will share in $310,000 in funding from the Federal Government for Landcare projects.

The Federal Member for Murray, and Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage, the Arts and Indigenous Affairs, Dr Sharman Stone, said the funding was very much needed for rural and regional Australia.

“These amounts are just a down-payment on what is actually needed.

“The Coalition pledged $112 million for Landcare projects from 2008-2011 in the 2007 Budget - an average of $37 million per year. This funding is $9 million less than that.

“Only $28 million will be spent on Landcare projects by the Rudd Labor Government this year. This does not compensate for the $45 million cut in funding to catchment management bodies, the loss of the EnviroFund and the Environmental Stewardship

Programme and the initial 20 per cent cut in Landcare funding.

“The Rudd Labor Government says organisations which missed out this time should consider applying for Caring for our Country Open Grants. Applications for these grants pit local community-based groups against the Universities and the CSIRO and other government agencies, close on August 1.

Dr Stone said the announced local projects are important ones.

“The three projects to be funded in the Murray electorate are vital projects, but more funding is needed for other projects to help landholders and land managers deal with the drought and climate change. In particular, the loss of facilitators and coordination officers in Landcare are a serious blow.

“The Loddon Shire Council will receive $90,000 to test and trial soil enhancement co-products at the Northern Poultry Bio-Waste facility.

“The Mid-Loddon Sub-Catchment Management Group will receive $120,000 for sustainable soil management projects in the mid-Loddon.

“And the Northern United Forestry Group will receive $100,000 to develop a community-based response to realising sustainable agriculture in northern Victoria.

“All these projects are very valuable. But we need an even greater investment in works to help farmers and land managers tackle the drought and climate change. Weeds and feral animals won’t simply go away, and riverbeds and riparian zones won’t rehabilitate on their

own.

“I call on the Rudd Labor Government to review funding to Landcare and the Caring for our Country programme. The Rudd Labor Government say its serious about tackling

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Media Enquiries: Robert Hardie 02 6277 4477 / 0418 432 909

climate change, and yet they take away funding from programmes that are delivering measurable, on the works services to tackle climate change?

“The answer to climate change is not just in Mr Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, but also in tackling the effects of the drought and climate change on the ground. This is the only way to deal with the global food security crisis.

“It’s time Mr Rudd and Agriculture Minister Tony Burke moved from relying on press statements and slashing funds as their daily strategy and started dealing with the practical issues of tackling weeds and feral animals, water and soil quality and biodiversity protection. These are the biggest threats facing Australian agriculture, and there doesn’t seem to be a strategy to deal with them.

“These are the biggest needs confronting Australia’s natural resources and there is no Labor strategy to deal with them.

“I congratulate the three local and 140 national groups successful from this round of funding and I urge those who missed out to also apply for funding through the Open Grants programme of the Caring for our Country programme. It is just such a pity that so many groups missed out on funding, and that there’s so little money left to help them out”, Dr Stone said.

Media contact: Robert Hardie 0418 432 909