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Farmers to be at forefront of Labor's salinity strategy.

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Farmers To Be At Forefront Of Labor's Salinity Strategy Gavan O'Connor - Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Media Statement - 21 July 2000

Farmers will remain at the forefront of meeting Australia's number one challenge - the degradation of our national soil base through salinisation - under Labor's strategy for attacking the problem, according to Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Gavan O'Connor.

"Farmers and farm organisations have long recognised that rising salinity levels threaten our national prosperity and our environment. For more than a decade they have actively participated in and driven the Landcare programs developed under the former Labor government," Gavan O'Connor said.

"These programs have been very successful at the local level in bringing local communities together to attack local environmental problems, especially salinity 'hotspots'.

"However there is a general recognition among farmers and farm organisations that the scale of salinity problems that we now face on farms, in the bush and in our towns and cities, is such that we need regional and national strategies of the kind outlined by Kim Beazley in his address to the South Australian Press Club this week.

"Labor has taken up the challenges outlined by the National Farmers' Federation and the Australian Conservation Foundation in their recent paper and has recognised that the cost of a solution will be beyond the resources of any one sector of the community.

"Kim Beazley has committed Labor to bringing together a partnership between communities, farmers and all levels of government, and to drawing on the financial resources of both government and the private sector, to solve this problem.

"By proposing to locate the body responsible for coordinating our national response within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in an Office of Sustainable Development Kim Beazley has demonstrated that Labor sees that solving our salinity problem is absolutely central to the role of a future Labor government.

"While we acknowledge that some farming practices, especially in the past, have been part of the problem, we also know that we can harness the innovative ability, the community minded spirit and the knowledge base of the farming community in finding the solutions."

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.