Hendy Cowan

Hendy Cowan


    Coalition steps up war against salinity

    29/01/2001 12:55 PM

    The Coalition Government has committed a further $20 million for natural resource management, in particular the fight against salinity.

    Deputy Premier Hendy Cowan said the money, from the sale of AlintaGas, would be used to boost the amount the State Government would spend on salinity next year to more than $60 million.

    The State also is negotiating with the Federal Government to access $150 million for salinity under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality.

    The task of Natural Resource Management (NRM) will be better co-ordinated with the establishment of a State Natural Resource Management Commission, made up of industry, community, agency and conservation interests.

    The commission, which will be allocated $1.5 million over three years, will oversee NRM activities and provide high-level policy advice to Government. It will also promote better communication between government, land managers and the community.

    On tackling salinity, Mr Cowan said the Coalition had carried out a responsible, well managed and community-based program over the past four years.

    “There is no single, easy solution to salinity and no one group has a mortgage on good ideas,” he said.

    “We will continue to work closely with landcare groups and give them more resources, information and technical data to assist them in the important task they are performing.”

    Funding of $4.8 million over four years will be allocated to 40 community-based natural resource management coordinators and advisers in regional areas.

    These co-ordinators will be managed by regional groups, trained and supported with technical advice by State agencies.

    Additional funding of $2 million will be allocated to research and trial projects covering a range of potential salinity solutions, including deep drainage.

    Mr Cowan said the Government had established a Deep Drainage Taskforce, chaired by Agricultural Region MLC Dexter Davies, which last year recommended there be a whole-of-government approach to drainage options and a clear regulatory system.

    Other research and trial projects to be funded include investigation of new deep-rooted plant species, reforestation and salt land agronomy.

    The Coalition will also implement key recommendations of the Native Vegetation Working Group, which examined incentives, assistance and equity issues impacting on farmers subject to land clearing controls .

    An amount of $3.77 million will be allocated to this program.

    The Coalition has steadily increased funding for the salinity fight since the last State election to an amount of $43 million per year.

    A clear set of priorities was developed through the Salinity Action Plan in 1996 and reassessed with the release of the State Salinity Strategy last year.

    The policy released today also provides:
    • $4 million to continue the successful Community Grants Scheme administered by the State Salinity Council;
    • $250,000 to support the five regional Natural Resource Management Groups to complete and implement their strategies;
    • $2 million for access to airborne magnetic and radiometric data over nine million hectares over four years;
    • $1 million to expand the Rural Towns Program, which works to protect rural town infrastructure from rising groundwater tables;
    • $250,000 for regionally based knowledge network centres to help communities take advantage of new information technology developments;
    • $300,000 over four years to establish natural resource management groups in the Pilbara and Kimberley; and -
    • $200,000 to expand the Waterwatch WA program (Ribbons of Blue) to maintain surveillance of ‘at risk’ water bodies.

    Media contact: Peter Jackson 9222-9595