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16 October 2008 - How well will the Rudd Government care for our country?      

How well will the Rudd Government care for our country?

Sydney, 16 October 2008          

The Rudd Government has revealed the outcomes it hopes to achieve over the next five years with its $2.25bn Caring for our Country program, the centrepiece of its environmental policy platform.

Caring for our Country replaces the Howard Government’s Natural Heritage Trust which was widely criticised for lacking in strategic direction and poor prioritisation.

Ministers Garrett and Burke have said “It is no longer good enough to invest public funds without the discipline of establishing clear national investment priorities” and Humane Society International (HSI) fully endorses that intent. A yet to be released business plan will show whether the Government is likely to deliver on its intentions and achieve its stated outcomes.

HSI is somewhat disappointed at the lack of ambition and narrow scope of the outcomes to be achieved but will reserve judgement until we see the business plan. 

We note that confusion exists over the target for Australia’s Natural Reserve System which appears to have shifted from a goal of achieving protection for examples of 80% of Australia’s regional ecosystems in reserves from 2010-2015 in Howard Government policies to achieving this by 2028 in Caring for our Country. The Convention on Biological Diversity requires Australia to achieve this goal by XXXX.

It is also unclear where funding will come from for core bread and butter conservation activities not mentioned in the Caring for Country Outcomes, such as recovery planning for threatened species. 

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