The 2011-12 Victorian Budget delivers funding for the Victorian Coalition Government's environmental commitments and significant investment to help restore Victoria's parks after the devastating floods.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the Budget provided practical support to assist households and groups to help the environment.
"The Coalition is focused on effective investment of taxpayer funds instead of the wasteful spending which was a specialty of the former Labor Government," Mr Smith said.
The Budget delivers on the Coalition Government's commitments including:
- $20 million Community Green Fund Grants Program to provide grants of $10,000 to $150,000 for community-based and volunteer groups for on-ground action, including biodiversity conservation and preservation, elimination of feral pests, weed control, cleaning up waterways, revegetation and environmental awareness;
- $5 million Energy Efficiency Rebates for Low Income Homes to support low-income home owners to cut power bills with a $700 rebate to help people switch from electric to gas-powered heaters and a $100 rebate to help purchase more efficient whitegoods appliances;
- $5 million Backing Green Business Plan to establish a voluntary Business Sustainability Accreditation green tick program for small and medium sized enterprises;
- $10.7 million for the Free Zoos for Kids initiative to help family budgets by introducing free admission to our public zoos for children under 16 years old on weekends, public holidays and school holidays;
- $12 million Landcare support package to back our vital Landcare network by providing part funding for 60 co-ordinator positions across Victoria; and
- Putting the Buzz back into Agriculture to support Victoria's honey bee industry with $150,000 to provide more sites for bee hives.
Mr Smith said the 2011-12 Budget also confirms the Coalition Government's commitment to retain 10 separate Catchment Management Authorities to ensure continued local community input into environmental programs.
"The Coalition Government supports active community involvement in protecting the environment and encourages Victorians to get out and experience our wonderful parks and reserves," Mr Smith said.
"Our parks and reserves play a vital role in supporting regional tourism and the Coalition Government will be doing everything it can to ensure they remain an attractive destination."
Last month the Coalition Government announced a total of $62.4 million for restoration and repair of flood-damaged parks and reserves, and the Budget also includes a commitment to spend $8.4 million in 2011-12 on repairing and replacing assets in Victoria's parks and other public land and $30.5 million over four years to continue the employment of 65 park rangers across Victoria to improve management of our national parks and join Victoria's firefighting and fuel reduction efforts.
The Coalition Government's focus on better managing our public land also includes $16.5 million over four years to tackle weeds and pests on public land and $9.5 million over four years for the protection of our beaches and foreshores.
The Coalition Government's commitment to our world-class parks and reserves also includes $1 million to upgrade the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk and $5000 for the Lyrebird Walk at Mirboo North in Gippsland.
The Budget also includes:
- $20 million for the Sustainable Street Lights plan – assisting councils to replace older energy-intensive lights;
- Sustainable schools - $8.3 million over four years to continue and build on the existing ResourceSmart Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSIVic) program, and provide participating schools with a Education Facility Energy Efficiency Grant;
- Wildlife Shelter Capital Grants – $1.2 million over four years to help cover the costs of volunteers who care for injured and orphaned animals;
- a green power plan for Ballarat, providing $50,000 to investigate the use of green waste to generate cleaner energy; and
- a GPS boost for rural areas, providing $1.6 million over four years to increase access for landholders and other industries to the Global Positioning Satellite network.