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Farmers welcome government commitment to rural Australia and natural resource management.

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NR 61/2000 16 May 2000

FARMERS WELCOME GOVERNMENT COMMITMENT TO RURAL AUSTRALIA AND NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT The National Farmers' Federation has today welcomed the government's continuing commitment to rural Australia and its initiatives, particularly in the areas of health, welfare, education and community leadership.

Replying to an address to the 21st Annual Conference by Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson this morning, NFF President Ian Donges said he welcomed the Budget commitments from the Government, and the rural sector would be particularly encouraged by Mr Anderson's statement that "the Government is prepared to fund infrastructure as they are able to, given Budget constraints".

"John Anderson's commitment to rural Australia is very welcome, and the Government is obviously listening to our concerns," Mr Donges said.

"As the Deputy Prime Minister knows, there are big issues at stake here -deteriorating roads and rail lines, water reticulation and the wider issue of the environmental health of the country, particularly dryland salinity.

"Time is running out - not just keeping things running, but actually repairing the fundamentals," he said.

"The Deputy Prime Minister's comments that "fundamental change in the management of NRM will require commitment from all levels of government, industry and agriculture, and the community" is a very welcome endorsement for the NFF's main thrust in preparing a strategy to address these issues.

"Together with the Australian Conservation Foundation, the NFF has begun that process with the launch yesterday of the report 'Repairing the Country'," Mr Donges said.

"The environmental degradation of Australia, and the rundown in our infrastructure are issues we cannot walk away from - we are all affected by them and they demand urgent attention.

"While we congratulate the Government on the progress in taxation reform, fuel excise arrangements and overall fiscal management of the economy, NFF urges the government to announce sooner rather than later a detailed plan on how we resolve the outstanding issues that daily compromise the livelihoods and quality of life for people in the country," Mr Donges concluded.

For further information

Ian Donges President, NFF 02 6276-5270 0419 613 349

Dr Wendy Craik Executive Director, NFF 02 6276-5270 0419 257 469