The Queensland Government is continuing its strong commitment to protecting the state’s environment through the 2014-15 State Budget.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls said today’s budget delivered a strong plan for a brighter future for the environment, while still growing a four pillar economy and job opportunities.
“This budget sees an increase in funding for Environment and Heritage Protection of $8.4 million, further protecting the Great Barrier Reef, improving koala habitats and increasing support for local environmental projects,” Mr Nicholls said.
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell said the budget builds on successes of the past two years, with a strong focus on caring for wildlife, improving environmental management and conserving Queensland’s built heritage.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to ensuring the Great Barrier Reef remains one of the world’s best managed World Heritage areas, we have delivered $35 million this year for Reef protection initiatives,” Mr Powell said.
“The Reef Water Quality Program will receive $55 million over the next five years to further develop and install best management practice systems for the sugar cane, grazing and banana industries.
“Funding for this program will also deliver robust research so the Government can make decisions for the Reef based on strong scientific evidence.
“We outlined our plan to manage crocodiles in North Queensland ahead of the last election and I’m proud to say we are delivering.
“Since March 2012 we have captured and removed more than 70 crocodiles across the state and this budget provides additional funding of $2.3 million over two years to ensure our continued efforts to balance crocodile management and public safety.
“Over the last two years we have approved grants of $7 million through our Everyone’s Environment grants program.
“Already 7,150 volunteers have planted 62,000 trees, weeded, revegetated or rehabilitated 53,600 hectares of land and removed a whopping 35,700 kilograms of rubbish.
“We have also allocated $600,000 to support 34 projects across the state that protect and conserve our built heritage.
“This year we are putting a further $5 million on the table to support local, grassroots projects that improve our environment or protect our heritage.
“While we will continue to encourage and support people who want to improve their local environment, the Government is also committed to restoring our state’s most environmentally diverse areas.
“Over the last two years, 41 nature refuges have been declared across an area of more than 986,000 hectares under our $107 million ‘Investing in our environment for the future’ commitment.
“We have acquired also 10 properties totaling more than 191,000 hectares through the State-wide acquisitions program and we will also continue to expand koala habitat in areas where their territory is under significant pressure.
“Of the $26.7 million for land acquisitions in this year’s Budget, $15 million will be spent increasing available koala habitat through the acquisition of suitable land.
“We are working smarter and harder to deliver strong outcomes for our environment and real benefits for our communities.”
Mr Powell said his department was also continuing its enforcement and compliance activities associated with coal seam gas operations.
“We’re implementing a more strategic compliance monitoring program of the coal seam gas industry at a cost of $5.2 million,” he said.
“We take our role as an environmental regulator seriously and we are constantly adopting new technologies and increasing our inspection rates to ensure we monitor activities of industry.
“This budget is proof that we are delivering what we promised, we are going from strength to strength and we have a strong plan for a bright future.”