"Landmark Policy Launched on World Wetlands Day"
The following is the text of the press release from Sen. Robert Hill, Australia's Minister of the Environment, dated 2 February 1997.
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
LANDMARK POLICY LAUNCHED ON WORLD WETLANDS DAY
The Howard Government has marked the start of World Wetlands Week by launching the Wetlands Policy of the Commonwealth Government of Australia.
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has unveiled the policy during a tour of the Coorong Wetlands in South Australia.
The policy contains strategies that address the management of Australias wetlands, implementing Commonwealth legislation and delivering Commonwealth programs.
Senator Hill says the policy is a landmark for the conservation and long-term sustainable use of Australias wetlands.
"Wetlands are among the most important life support systems on earth, yet over half of Australias wetlands have been destroyed since European settlement.
"By developing this policy, the Howard Government is formally acknowledging the many values of Australias wetlands and recognising the need to build issues relating to management of these natural assets into the daily business of governing.
"All Commonwealth Departments are now committed to a set of key objectives designed to achieve the goal of the policy which is to conserve, repair and manage wetlands wisely.
"The policy also represents an important step in the development of a national policy framework for wetlands.
"The Commonwealths Wetlands Policy is designed to complement those already in place in New South Wales and Western Australia, and those being developed by Queensland and the Northern Territory."
Australia has 49 wetlands considered to be of international significance under the Ramsar Convention. These include the Coorong Wetlands, Lakes Alexandrina and Albert in South Australia and wetlands in Kakadu National Park.
Senator Hill says the policy will support Australias efforts under the Ramsar Convention.
"Australia can be proud that it was the first nation to join the Ramsar Convention when the Gorton Government signed the Convention in 1971.
"Ramsar was a pioneer of the concept of ecologically sustainable development, or wise use, and this policy will ensure Australia continues to be a world leader in this field."
Senator Hill also used World Wetlands Day to jointly release with the South Australian Minister for the Environment, the Hon. David Wotton, the first stage of the Register of Wetland Restoration Projects in Australia, marking the beginning of a process of assessment of wetlands in line with international obligations.
Media contact - Matt Brown (Senator Hill) (+61) 6 277 7640
Other inquiries - Malcolm Forbes (Environment Australia) (+61) 6 250 0325
2 February 1997