The 2012-13 Victorian Budget includes more than $157 million of new funding to improve waterways, reduce bushfire risk and upgrade facilities for Zoos Victoria.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the Budget would include an additional $43.7 million to support the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations for more planned burns and for free mapping data to emergency response agencies.
Mr Smith said a further $13.7 million has been allocated for Zoos Victoria to improve facilities, as Melbourne Zoo prepares to commemorate its 150th anniversary.
"The Budget will also deliver more than $100 million over the next four years to improve the health of waterways and environmental water flows," Mr Smith said.
"The Budget sets out a clear plan to meet our challenges and position Victoria to take full advantage of current and future opportunities.
"This year's Budget delivers new funding for projects that have tangible benefits to the Victorian public.
"We are taking a responsible and necessary approach to boost safety with an additional
$35.1 million for this coming year to scale-up the planned burning program to 250,000 hectares in 2012-13 to help reduce the risk of bushfires to communities. This is on top of the base funding that has already been committed for planned burning efforts in 2012-13.
"A further $8.6 million will be invested over the next four years to provide data mapping free of charge to other emergency response agencies. This new funding supports the delivery of Recommendation 16 of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission for this service.
"The Victorian Coalition Government is working hard to end years of complacency in relation to the risk of bushfires from excessive fuel loads.
"Already this year we have treated more than 170,000 hectares and we are committed to reaching this year's target of 225,000 hectares.
"Planned burning is the best tool we have to reduce bushfire risk to people, properties and communities. Regular planned burning will help reduce the risk of there being more damaging large-scale fires like Black Saturday, the Alpine Fires and the Great Divide Fires," Mr Smith said.
Mr Smith said the Budget would also deliver more than $100 million over the next four years for work with communities to improve the environmental condition of Victoria's high priority rivers, wetlands and estuaries.
"The Coalition Government understands the community are often the best ambassadors when it comes to the health of their local waterways, so it makes sense to get community members involved," Mr Smith said.
"The funding will also focus on physical works for the Yarrowee River and Mordialloc Creek, as well as across regional Victoria, and help to conduct state-wide policy coordination and planning to improve the health of our waterways."
Mr Smith said the Budget would also provide another $13.7 million to secure the future of our zoos with upgrades to cater for larger crowds at the Werribee Open Range Zoo and funding for improved displays for lemurs and lions at Melbourne Zoo.
"Last year the Coalition Government delivered on its election commitment to provide free entry for children to our zoos during school and public holidays and the response has been overwhelming," Mr Smith said.
"These upgrades will not only support economic activity, productivity and jobs at our zoos, but secure the future of these facilities for generations."
Mr Smith said the measures in the 2012-13 Budget will complement a range of initiatives that will receive funding already identified in 2012-13, including nearly $100 million towards measures such as:
- Communities for Nature;
- Conserve, Invest, Save resource recovery and energy efficiency measures;
- Energy efficient rebates for low income homes;
- Sustainable Schools (ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic);
- Victoria Local Sustainability Accord;
- Metropolitan Organics Strategy;
- Regional Organics Strategy;
- Driving Investment in New Recycling;
- Rural Landfill Improvement Package;
- Regional Waste Management Groups Support Package;
- Funding to Catchment Management Authorities;
- Landcare 60 Facilitators;
- Landcare Grants;
- Protection of beaches and foreshores;
- Free Zoos for children under 16;
- Kokoda Memorial Wall - Dandenong Ranges National Park;
- Park Rangers;
- Wildlife Shelter Grants; and
- Natural Resources Investment Program.