Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation
Question No 931
Senator Brown asked the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, upon notice, on 2nd June 2005:
In view of the Commonwealth's commitment to the protection of freshwater ecosystems as described within the National Water Initiative and the National Reserve System:
(a) is the Government preparing to undertake a comprehensive national assessment of the conservation status of freshwater ecosystems with the cooperation of state governments; and
(b) will the Government make an appropriate financial commitment to support such a study?
Senator Macdonald - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:
(a) All State and Territory Governments and the Australian Government have agreed through the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council to the document Directions for the National Reserve System - A Partnership Approach. In this document, all States and Territories have agreed to review the current understanding of freshwater ecosystems to ensure that they are appropriately incorporated within a comprehensive, adequate and representative national reserves system. States and Territories have further agreed to the identification and mapping of freshwater systems at an appropriate scale to assist in assessing the extent to which they are incorporated within the national reserve system.
Under the National Water Initiative, the Australian Government and all States and Territories (except Western Australia) have agreed to put into place planning frameworks that identify surface and groundwater systems of high conservation value, and to manage those systems to protect and enhance their conservation values. States and Territories have also committed to establishing effective and efficient management and institutional arrangements to ensure the achievement of environmental outcomes, including any special requirements necessary to sustain high conservation value rivers, reaches and groundwater areas.
(b) The Government provides funding through the National Reserves System Program of the Natural Heritage Trust to assist in the establishment of the national reserve system. This may include areas with freshwater ecosystems identified through the above processes.