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Landcare groups get another funding cut.

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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 groups get another funding cut

In another blow to those working to restore and protect natural resources, the Rudd Labor Government has announced a mere $28 million in funding for Landcare projects across the country, well down on that planned to be spent by the Coalition.

“In the 2007 Budget, the Coalition committed $112 million to Landcare over the next three years - that’s an average of $37 million per year. But the Budget papers showed a cut in funding of 20 per cent.

“It now appears that 20 per cent may have been too conservative a figure.

“But adding insult to injury, those Landcare groups that were unsuccessful in this funding round have been told to get their applications in for Open Grants funding. This will pit small, community-based Landcare groups up against the CSIRO and other federal and state government agencies for the small funding pool available there.

“The Rudd Labor Government has slashed spending on the environment. The EnviroFund and Environmental Stewardship Programmes are gone, and the GreenCorp programme has been turned into a ‘work for the dole’ programme. Now Landcare’s initial 20 per cent cut has been revised upwards to 25 per cent!

“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 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.