Government delivers more than $1 billion under the National Landcare program
The Coalition Government is continuing its longstanding commitment to natural resource management, investing more than $1 billion for phase two of the National Landcare Program, which will be delivered from July 2017 to June 2023 as announced in this year’s Budget.
Phase two of the National Landcare Program recognises the vital role Australia’s farmers play in land management. Our farmers manage 61 per cent of Australia’s landmass and can make a significant contribution to the protection of vital assets such as our soils, water, vegetation and biodiversity.
Our investment recognises this vital role, and includes funding to further develop sustainable land practices and build the resilience, competitiveness and productivity of our farmers including additional funding for Red Imported Fire Ant eradication and pest animal and weed management.
The phase two investment includes:
• $450 million for the Regional Land Partnerships Program to deliver natural resource management at a regional scale
• Funding for additional biosecurity measures to support the eradication of the Red Imported Fire Ant
• $47.4 million for the management of our treasured World Heritage sites.
• $24.7 million towards delivering the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, in addition to the $83 million already allocated under the Program to implement the Plan from 2018-19 to 2021-22
• $93 million for the ongoing support of existing Indigenous Protected Areas plus $15 million new funding
• Funding for the establishment of the $20 million Centre for Invasive Species Solutions to drive research, development and extension activities to protect native ecosystems and habitats from pest animals and weeds
• $5 million for an environment small grants program which local community and environment groups can access (up to $50,000) for local natural resource management activities
Guided by findings from the National Landcare Program Review, the regional delivery program will build on the strengths of the previous program and continue to connect and engage with local communities as part of its efforts to protect Australia’s unique environment and natural resources. Investment under this next phase will be targeted and delivered against national priorities that will benefit rural communities and deliver environmental and agricultural priorities.
Deficit falls below 2 per cent of GDP
The responsible budget management of the Coalition Government has brought the 2016-17 Final Budget Outcome (FBO) in at $4.4 billion better than the underlying cash balance forecast in the 2017-18 Budget.
At $33.2 billion, the underlying cash deficit is 1.9 per cent of gross domestic product, the first time in four years it has fallen below 2 per cent of GDP. The improvement in the bottom line was driven by $4.1 billion in higher total receipts than expected at the time of the 2017-18 Budget, as well as an improvement of $1.2 billion from payments being lower than expected.
For the second year in a row government payments were below their initial forecast, $4.3 billion lower than the 2013-14 Budget estimate.
Almost 250,000 jobs were created over 2016-17 resulting in employment growing by 1.9 per cent through the year to the June quarter 2017, which was stronger than the 2017-18 Budget forecast of 1 per cent.
Australian Government general government sector net debt was $322.3 billion (18.4 per cent of GDP), which was $2.8 billion better than estimated at the time of the 2017-18 Budget.
The Final Budget Outcome 2016-17 can be found at www.budget.gov.au
The National Drugs Campaign
The next phase of the National Drugs Campaign was launched on 24 September 2017 and will run for a period of twelve weeks, through to 16 December 2017. The National Drugs Campaign will promote the recently established National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline (1800 250 015) and the Drug Help website. These services will provide people with information on the full range of treatment and support options that are available in addition to specialist treatment – including primary care and online interventions.
The campaign has three major focuses:
• Ice – prevention and help seeking
• Parents – empowering them to talk about drugs with their children and
• Party drugs – youth prevention
Other key resources treatment and support services:
• The National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline: 1800 250 015
• Positive Choices online portal: www.positivechoices.org.au
• Cracks in the Ice online portal: https://cracksintheice.org.au/
• Counselling Online: www.counsellingonline.org.au
The Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test and Brief Intervention (ASSIST-BI): http://assistportal.com.au