Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Minister Wong misleading on environmental funding.

Download PDFDownload PDF

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

Monday, 30 June 2008

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

Minister Wong misleading on environmental funding

Claims by Climate Change Minister Penny Wong that the Labor Party’s defunding of the environment was justified because the Coalition was not going to extend the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) and the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality (NAP) are simply wrong.

The Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage, the Arts and Indigenous Affairs, Dr Sharman Stone, said the Coalition planned a merger of the NHT and NAP and would never have stripped away key funding from such key programmes as Landcare, Biodiversity Hotspots, Environmental Stewardship, EnviroFund, catchment management bodies and on the ground funding for weeds and feral animal control.

“The Coalition announced in last year’s Budget that NAP would be rolled into NHT3 from 1 July 2008.

“Labor’s Caring for our Country package is a rebadging and rebundling of, yet a poor relation to, the Coalition’s NHT and NAP programmes.

“Unfortunately, Caring for our Country does not have integrated or total catchment approach. Nor does it acknowledge or provide for the support needed for volunteers on the ground or the essential work that is needed on private properties.

“When the Caring for our Country programme was announced, environmentalists were shocked to see cuts to the average historical funding to regional natural resource or catchment management bodies by 40 per cent. The Rudd Labor Government said this 40 per cent would become a ‘contestable’ pool from which these bodies could apply for ‘top up’ funding.

“The grants have now been open with only $75 million in the kitty, well short of the $120 million lost as a result of the 40 per cent cuts. As well, small groups, like the Landcare groups, are going to have to compete with catchment bodies and local, state and commonwealth government agencies for funding. This is a chaotic, badly planned and

poorly executed funding round.

“While the grants close on 1 August 2008, application forms are still not available!

“Minister Wong needs to stop trying to blame the Coalition for her troubles and seriously work with her department to try to restore the confidence of Landcare and environmental groups across the nation. Staff are being put off daily and volunteers are walking away.

“It’s time to end the blame game, Senator Wong.