The Australian Government has maintained its commitment to protecting and conserving our unique environment in the 2012–13 Budget.

“The Federal Government is continuing its commitment to creating a sustainable Australia and conserving our precious environment for the future,” Environment Minister Tony Burke said.

“This Budget targets our investment in a sustainable Australia to where it is needed most, to secure a healthy environment on land and at sea.

“In partnership with landowners, communities, businesses and governments across the nation, the Federal Government is delivering on its reform agenda.

“Through programs such as the Caring for our Country initiative and the recently announced Biodiversity Fund, we will continue to improve biodiversity, help protect iconic sites like the Great Barrier Reef, and support farmers to improve their practices,” Mr Burke said.

The Federal Government will also continue to introduce new projects under the Environmental Stewardship program.

These programs will complement new policy initiatives such as the Wildlife Corridors Plan.

Further, priorities for the next phase will expand to include a focus on protecting and sustainably managing our marine environment.

Indigenous land management continues to be a priority for the government through the Working on Country program, which was recently expanded under the government’s Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — Jobs Package to deliver an additional 50 ranger positions in the Northern Territory.

Protection of the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef will be strengthened with funding of $8 million over two years from the Caring for our Country program to ensure that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority can continue its management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and community-based Reef Guardian programs effectively.

This measure will be complemented by funding of $12.5 million over four years commencing in 2013–14 for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. The foundation protects and preserves the Reef by coordinating strategic research in such areas as reef resilience and climate change.

“Our iconic Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s treasures, and we are determined to ensure its resilience and diversity into the future,” Mr Burke said.

“Funding available through Caring for our Country and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation will ensure that the Reef’s unique values are protected.”

The Budget will also ensure that Australia’s influence in Antarctica is maintained, with $23.1 million over two years from 2012–13 directed to Australia’s ground breaking Antarctica Airlink, $6.7 million over two years from 2012–13 for shipping support and $11.2 million in 2012–13 to ensure Australia’s four Antarctic and sub-Antarctic stations remain fully operational.

“One hundred years after Sir Douglas Mawson’s heroic expedition, Australia continues to assert its presence in the Antarctic, leading collaborations in scientific projects with major Antarctic nations,” Mr Burke said.

“The research undertaken through our stations is of international importance, particularly relating to climate change.”

The investment made in Australia’s Antarctic program continues to deliver financial benefit to the Tasmanian economy with approximately 60 per cent of expenditure paid to Tasmanian staff and suppliers.