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Australian Environment Minister welcomes NT participation in Lake Eyre Basin Agreement [and] Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum - Communique.



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Media Release Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage Dr David Kemp

10 June 2004

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Australian Environment Minister welcomes NT participation in Lake Eyre Basin Agreement

Management of Australia's iconic Lake Eyre Basin (LEB) will be further enhanced with the Northern Territory Government's decision to join the Australian, Queensland and South Australian governments in the LEB Inter-governmental Agreement , the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp announced today.

Speaking in Alice Springs at the third meeting of the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum, Dr Kemp welcomed the Northern Territory's decision to sign the Agreement as “an historic and important further step towards a whole-of-basin cross-border approach to the management of the water and related natural resources of the Basin”.

“I welcome the decision of the Northern Territory Government to join the existing signatories in the challenging task of protecting the sustainability of both the environment and production across this vast, iconic section of our country,” Dr Kemp said.

“The Lake Eyre Basin is one of the largest internally draining river systems in the world, covering 1.2 million square kilometres or almost one-sixth of Australia. It includes parts of south-western Queensland, north-eastern South Australia, south-western Northern Territory and far western New South Wales.

“This vast Basin deserves the commitment of the relevant governments to protect its unique values - both as an important grazing and mining province and its great natural wonders which include Lake Eyre itself, the Coongie Lakes, and many of Australia's unique plants and animals.

“Much of the area covered by the Basin is arid or semi-arid in nature. The major cross-border river systems within the Basin - the Cooper Creek and Georgina-Diamantina - are recognised as being some of the last remaining unregulated inland river systems in Australia and hosts to some of the most significant fish communities in South Australia and the richest frog community known in central Australia.”

The Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum comprises Dr David Kemp as Chair; Queensland Minister for

Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, Mr Stephen Robertson; and South Australian Minister for Environment and Conservation, Mr John Hill . The Northern Territory is now represented by its Minister for Central Australia, Mr Peter Toyne.

The Ministerial Forum was established under the LEB Inter-governmental Agreement which was signed by the Australian, Queensland and South Australian governments in 2000 and met for the first time in May 2001. The Agreement provides for the sustainable management of water and related natural resources within the major cross-border river systems of the Basin.

Almost half the 57,000 population of the Basin live at Alice Springs and D r Kemp recognised the important contribution being made by members of the Basin community in support of the Agreement.

“The Community Advisory Committee and Scientific Advisory Panel are playing a vital role in supporting the implementation of the Agreement,” Dr Kemp said.

“The Agreement is about protecting the nationally important environmental values associated with the major cross-border river systems of the Basin, while also supporting the Basin's other economic and social values.”

For details on the LEB Inter-governmental Agreement, visit http://www.deh.gov.au/water/basins/lake-eyre/agreement.html. Communique from LEB ministerial forum attached.

Lake eyre basin Ministerial Forum - Communiqué

Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum third meeting in Alice Springs - 10 June 2004

The Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum met for the third time today in Alice Springs. The Ministerial Forum was established under the Lake Eyre Basin Inter-governmental Agreement, signed by the Australian, Queensland and South Australian governments in 2000. The Agreement provides for the sustainable management of water and related natural resources within the major cross-border river systems in the Basin.

The Ministerial Forum comprises the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon Dr David Kemp MP (Chair), the Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, the Hon Stephen Robertson MP, and the South Australian Minister for Environment and Conservation, the Hon John Hill MP. The Northern Territory Minister for Central Australia, the Hon Peter Toyne MP, also attended the meeting.

In opening the meeting, Dr Kemp welcomed the decision by the Northern Territory Government to join the Agreement as an important step towards a whole-of-basin cross-border approach to the management of the water and related natural resources of the Basin.

Dr Kemp also recognised the important contribution being made by members of the Ministerial Forum's Community Advisory Committee and Scientific Advisory Panel.

“The Community Advisory Committee and Scientific Advisory Panel are playing a vital role in supporting the implementation of the Agreement,” Dr Kemp said.

“With half of the Basin's 57,000 population living in Alice Springs, the Northern Territory Government decided it would be beneficial to participate in the management of the Basin,” Dr Toyne said.

Key outcomes from the meeting included:

● Agreement and signing of a Schedule approving the participation of the Northern Territory

Government in the Lake Eyre Basin Inter-government Agreement; ● Endorsing the release of an Information Paper on the river systems of the Lake Eyre Basin

prepared by the Scientific Advisory Panel; ● Agreement to proceed with the second phase of the Lake Eyre Basin Rivers Assessment

involving further refinement of the methodology, a number of on-ground pilot projects as part of the development of the River Assessment Implementation Approach, and development of a Business Case to guide future investment decisions; ● Approval of a policy and associated arrangements for facilitating a whole-of-basin

approach to the implementation of the Lake Eyre Basin Agreement; ● Agreement to release for community consultation draft strategies for implementing the

Agreement; ● To undertake an up to date description of the hydrology of the entire Lake Eyre Basin,

including a community brochure for publication; ● Agreement to allow up to $100,000 to re-instate three priority gauging stations to measure

flows in the Lake Eyre Basin ● Endorsement of guiding principles and the development of an approach for ensuring

indigenous engagement and participation under the Agreement; ● Confirmation of arrangements for the next Lake Eyre Basin Conference to be held in Alice

Springs in October; and ● Approval of the 2004-05 Ministerial Forum Budget.

A community forum was held following the Ministerial Forum, which was attended by representatives from the Community Advisory Committee, the Scientific Advisory Panel and other regional and community stakeholders.

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