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Keen interest in Caring for our Country.

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The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Keen interest in Caring for our Country

2 September 2008 DAFF08/112BJ

Joint Media Release The Hon Tony Burke MP - Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry The Hon Peter Garrett MP - Australian Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

The Rudd Government is assessing more than 1,200 applications from groups across Australia seeking a share of the $25 million Open Grants fund under the Caring for our Country initiative.

Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts Peter Garrett and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke called for applications in July this year.

Projects to boost the sustainable management of Australia’s farms, rivers and oceans and natural icons were invited to apply.

Given the strong response, it is expected to take some weeks to assess the applications, with an announcement on the successful applications expected later in the year.

The Ministers said it would be a competitive process and the success of the applications round meant it would not be possible to fund every project through the $25 million fund.

“Under this year’s Open Grants process we are particularly looking to fund larger-scale projects which have the capacity to bring together consortiums of specialists, interest groups, community members and investment partners to deliver projects that will significantly improve the environment across multiple regions and jurisdictions,” Mr Garrett said.

“Caring for our Country is about taking a new, coordinated approach to environmental management in Australia, built on a set of consistent national targets.”

Mr Burke said he was encouraged to see that more than 65 per cent of the applications were from community, regional and farming groups - many seeking funding to expand sustainable farming practices and to improve land management in a changing climate.

“Farmers will be among the first affected by climate change and the Rudd Government is acting now to help them prepare,” Mr Burke said.

“One of the Government’s priorities was to fund projects that encourage primary producers to plan for and adopt new practices, techniques, technologies and products using the best science available.”

The Caring for our Country package focuses on six national priorities: the National Reserve System; biodiversity and natural icons; coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats; sustainable farm practices; natural resource management in remote and northern Australia and community skills, knowledge and engagement.

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Breakdown of Open Grants Application Figures

State No. of applications Percentage by State

NSW 331 27.22

VIC 198 16.28

QLD 285 23.44

SA 97 7.98

WA 152 12.50

TAS 62 5.10

NT 38 3.13

ACT 50 4.11

Cocos Keeling Is 1 0.08

Norfolk Island 2 0.16

Total 1216 100.00

Media contacts: Ben Pratt (Minister Garrett): 0419 968 734 Ann-Marie Wilcock (Minister Burke): 0413 872 275