Wetlands carer elated by funding
NICCI CARTER couldn't help but throw her arms around Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett yesterday when he announced a re-elected Labor Government would spend $2.5 million to protect coastal wetlands.
The general manager of Ballina-based Wetland Care Australia said she was aware something was in the air, but had no idea about the scale of the funding.
“I was just so grateful that the Government has acknowledged the hard work that we do and the importance of wetlands,” Ms Carter said about the impromptu embrace at Lismore's Riverside Park.
Yesterday's wetlands announcement was in addition to other pledges to invest $9.6 million to improve the environment in north-eastern NSW.
Mr Garrett, who has kept a relatively low profile during the election campaign, joined Page MPJanelle Saffin in Lismore yesterday, using the launch of EnviTE's North Coast Environment Employment Project to make the funding promises.
The $2.5 million wetlands funding pledge is for a three-year national pilot project to restore 20 coastal wetlands close to urban developments in South-East Queensland and the Northern Rivers.
“Our wetlands are absolutely vital to the health of our environment, they are vital to fisheries and overall eco-system health,” Mr Garrett said. “For too long they have suffered neglect and have significant pressures.”
The additional $9.6 million, which is already in the Caring for our Country program budget, is spread over a wide range of environmental projects.
However, Mr Garrett's multi-million dollar promises didn't win universal approval, with ECOfishers NSW president Ken Thurlow critical the Minister didn't meet with the fishing industry to discuss its marine park plan.
“He sneaks into town, does a bit of head-banging and back-slapping with his cheer squad, and sneaks out again. That's not fair representation from an elected minister,” he said.
WHERE SOME OF THE MONEY WILL BE SPENT
- $8 million for the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, including:
- $270,000 to eradicate weeds.
- Restoring habitat in the Richmond floodplain wetlands.
- Engaging 120 fishers and aquaculturists to improve commercial fishing practises.
- A further $1.65 million for the Gondwana Rainforests World Heritage area.