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Environment funding in chaos.

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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

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

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

Environment funding in chaos

Environmental funding is in chaos with the Rudd Labor Government’s biggest new environmental programme beset by administrative breakdown and confusion.

Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage, the Arts and Indigenous Affairs, Dr Sharman Stone, said Labor’s new Caring for our Country grants scheme had been cobbled together with little regard for proper communication, timeframes or eligibility criteria.

“It is rumoured that DEWHA and DAFF officials were taken by surprise by the weekend advertisements announcing the new grants availability. This may explain the problems as potential applicants try to access information and hurry to meet the extremely short deadlines.

“The application forms for the Open Grants programme have only just been made available, 10 days after the grants were advertised.

“The new Caring for our Country grants programme was supposed to compensate for the 40 per cent funding cut to catchment management bodies. It turns out that the grant pool is in fact $45 million short.

“Unfortunately, the so-called grants also pit volunteers, local, state and federal government agencies against one another as they scramble for make-up funding. Whether or not co-contributions or matched funding from other sources is required is not clear in the notes accompanying the grants.

“Participants are invited to step forward for a ‘pilot project’, but the projects details or contents are not made clear”, Dr Stone said.

“Given Landcare groups have lost their facilitators and coordinators in the Rudd Labor Government’s 20 per cent slash of their funding, they are now unlikely to be able to meet the deadlines of this call for funding, with applications closing on 1 August 2008.

“Local councils may find themselves in the same position, given the natural resource management officers have also lost their funding, courtesy of the new Rudd Labor Government”, Dr Stone said.