Green Army may be stood down by govt
QUESTIONS over how the Federal Government "will invest its environmental dollar" are being asked after it was revealed the $360 million Green Army initiative would most likely be scrapped.
In his 35 years' experience in the environmental field, EnviTE environmental manager Mike Delaney said Green Army was one of the better government-funded programs.
Since its launch in 2014, Green Army had allowed more than 400 young people to gain paid work on various environmental projects in the area which, owing to the region's "high biodiversity values", had more projects per capita to anywhere else in Australia, according to Mr Delaney.
He said EnviTE was one of the biggest delivery agencies on the Far North Coast for rolling out the hands-on projects funded by Green Army.
"It would be a shame for those programs to get scrapped because they do achieve some environmental outcomes and good social outcomes," Mr Delaney said.
"It will be a loss to young people. Whether they've had a job before or come straight out of school, there's no doubt by the end of that project they come out with far more skills and confidence to find work."
Abolishing the Green Army could also mean job losses within EnviTE, Mr Delaney said.
Page MP Kevin Hogan said environmental programs would continue in the Northern Rivers for the next six months because they were already funded.
Mr Hogan said the Green Army's fate was the result of a "trade off" the Coalition made with the Greens to get the Backpacker tax through the senate.
He said the trade-off was for $100 million in funding to Landcare, announced by the Federal Government earlier this month.
Mr Hogan couldn't say where the funding would be allocated within Landcare, or whether the organisation would be taking on any planned Green Army projects.
Richmond MP Justine Elliot slammed Mr Hogan and the Federal Government for what she said was another failure by the government to help young people find employment.
"The Turnbull Government must come clean on its plans to axe its Green Army jobs scheme, which is more proof that the Coalition doesn't have a real plan to help young Australians get work," Ms Elliot said in a statement to the Northern Star.
"Young Australians don't deserve this shabby treatment - they need the Turnbull Government to get its act together and support their efforts to find meaningful employment."