The Coalition Government’s budget was announced on Tuesday 13 May 2014. For NRM groups, the key message is that indicative commitments made for funding of Caring for our Country components will need to be reviewed and revised downwards. This includes regional delivery funding.
The National Natural Resource Management Regions Working Group has provided the following summary of the implications for NRM.
- The 2014/15 Federal budget resulted in reduced funding for NRM programs from $2.1 billion over 5 years ($420 million per year) to $1.240 billion over 4 years ($310 million per year) – approximately 26% reduction in funding;
- New projects (such as the Green Army) totalling $124 million were included in the allocation putting pressure on the remaining reduced funding;
- It is assumes that the Government will honour commitments made in various funding Guidelines issued in 2013/14. If that is correct, the Sustainable Environment Stream is over committed by $73.06 million while the Sustainable Agriculture Stream has $246.54 million available which balances out to $173.5 million available to the National Landcare Program over the next 4 years.
- Reduced funding for regional delivery, community environment and landcare grants is therefore expected as the Government proceeds with designing the new National Landcare Program.
Over the past month regional NRM bodies and Landcare organisations have been briefing local MPs and Senators on the importance of NRM programs to regional communities, farmers and the broader Australian economy in delivering economic as well as environmental outcomes.
The Commonwealth Government will begin a consultation phase with NRM groups on the roll-out of the National Landcare Program in June.