2011-12 Federal Budget

2011-12 Federal Budget

11.05.2011 - Posted by Kane Travis

Today I opened the newspaper to see what our Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan had budgeted for our future. I scanned The Age for any leadership (and cash) on managing our catchments and waterways and, finding nothing, stepped up to The Australian, still with no results. Realising it was time to go to the source I read the transcript of Wayne Swan's speech to Federal Parliament presenting the 2011-12 Budget.

The most notable aspect of the speech for me was the total absence of environmental and indigenous affairs.

Those of us who have focused our careers on improving the health of our catchments and rivers know firsthand the level of investment that is required to turn around the last 200 years of our management. If the level of degradation and loss of species is not sufficient motivation, then we can now draw on a larger pool of science that describes the value of ecosystem services and the intrinsic link between health of the environment and health of communities.
Over the past few years I have been active in reviewing the way we measure and communicate success of our NRM investment and I have concluded we are not good at collectively telling a compelling story of our successes and the scale of challenges we face. If we are ever going to make a real impact in Canberra, we need to get better at working together. Service providers, catchment management authorities, state and federal NRM organisations need to firstly figure out how to reduce duplication, increase sharing of data and resolve issues of trust. From there we can then work out how to collectively come together to tell a compelling story regarding the issues of our environment and most importantly to communicate clearly how the investment to date has been instrumental in moving towards longer term outcomes.

It is a challenge, but if we want to create a step change in funding for natural resource management, one key element is our ability to collectively tell our story of issues and success in a much more compelling way.