The Australian Greens said today that Senate Estimates has confirmed the huge uncertainty that hangs over the future of Landcare, natural resource management, drought prevention and sustainable agriculture programs.
"The Government is supposedly joining and re-branding Landcare and Caring for Our Country under the banner of Landcare, but they haven't even decided on the name and it is clear from discussions last night that the substantive details of this process are yet to be determined, leaving the future of existing programs up in the air," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens agriculture spokesperson said today.
"I'm deeply concerned about the future of Landcare, natural resource management and environmental stewardship. The Government has already moved money from some areas, they're not honouring decisions on grant applications and their broader objectives under this new approach remain unclear.
"I do not believe claims that funding will not be cut from Landcare, NRM programs and Caring for Our Country. It seems increasingly likely that funding could be redirected to other areas that the Government will try and technically call Landcare and NRM.
"We've already seen funding allocated to drought programs in WA, SA, the NT and Tasmania, as well as Landcare and Caring for our Country funding, redirected by the Government to the Farm Finance Scheme and drought assistance. Drought assistance is very important, but so too is the role that NRM plays in addressing the effects of drought and climate change, especially for the agricultural sector.
"The decision to reallocate funding reduces the opportunities for growers in states like Western Australia and South Australia to access productivity enhancement loans, which assist them in adapting to climate change before they are affected by drought.
"Adding to this uncertainty is the fact that currently uncommitted funding allocated for drought assistance and adaptation will be one of the areas examined by the Government's wide ranging Commission of Audit.
"The Government needs to be transparent about its planned changes and ensure funding to support Landcare, sustainable agriculture and environment repair is secure," Senator Siewert concluded.