With all the talk about Barnaby Joyce and the sale of Telstra I am reminded of the Natural Heritage Trust – established from the sale of T1. And this is what John Anderson said in the Australian Parliament on 19th June 1996:
This Bill will establish the Trust and provide for it to be known as the “Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Reserve”. The initial capital of one billion dollars to be invested in the Trust will come from the proceeds of the partial sale of Telstra.
In effect, the transfer of funds from the partial sale of Telstra into the Natural Heritage Trust represents a transfer from investment in a telecommunications company to an investment in natural capital. Maintaining and restoring this natural capital is an investment in the well-being of future generations of Australians.
And what has the Natural Heritage Trust achieved for the Australian environment?
Louis Hissink says
I presume Zilch.
Both sides of politics dissemble for gain.
It may help fund Landcare, I trust.
Well. er, quite a lot, really.
If you’d taken the trouble to Google them, you would have been led to:
… and you could have seen for yourself.
It’s my understanding that NHT has been another bountiful source of rural pork-barrelling with very limited ability to track the success of most of its programs. While there were many successful programs, there were also any number of dodgy dubious grants handed out pretty much at the whim of Robert Hill.
Graham Finlayson says
A lot of money handed out for bandaid type so called solutions for much deeper problems.
Plenty of “feel good” tree planting projects for erosion gullies etc, with no thought to what has caused the gully in the first place.
No real follow up or monitoring. There are better ways for the money to be spent on more beneficial projects.
Regret to say I largely agree with you Wilful. It has been directed to “doing things on the ground” which means planting trees and digging drains. Some has been directed towards developing the capacity to continuously deal with land degradation (after the Telstra money runs out), but not much. So when it’s all gone, we’ll have an assortment of small gestures in the right direction, the net effect of which will be 2/3’s of 3/5’s of not much.
A major problem with the democratic processes used to disburse the money means that everyone is entitled to a small amount, regardless of how little lasting benefit that will flow from each modest project. There are regional committees all over the nation who function as effectively as any other voluntary community group. The difficulty of choosing a few truely significant projects and backing them lonf and hard enough to become commercially sustainable in their own right is too hard because those who miss out will seek to tear the whole process down on all our heads.
In my pessimistic moments, I think the complexity of land degradation is too big for a democracy to tackle because the rights of the many individuals overwhelm the need for collective action. For this reason, I think any solutions have to be commercially motivated so that they persist longer than one elctoral cycle.