The Australian Greens expressed dismay as the Government slashed heritage funding by almost one third in the budget.
Greens heritage spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said funding for the Heritage Division of the Environment Department was taking one step forward and ten back.
"Funding will be reduced by 30 per cent over four years, starting with a cut of $6.1 million; from $19.435 million in 2010/11 to $13.33 million in 2011/12. Over the next four years, compared to 2010/11 levels, heritage will be gutted to the tune of $23.27 million, while the Government has promised $8 million in project grants spread over two years. Over all, the division will be $15.27 million worse off over four years.
"These cuts will rip the guts out of the division's ability to do its job - protecting this country's heritage sites.
"The Heritage division is already under-funded. As it stands, only 107 of the 337 places on the Commonwealth Heritage List have management plans in place or being prepared. Of the 89 places on the National Heritage List only 40 have finalised plans, and nine places have no plans at all, including the Dampier Archipelago. Slashing 30 per cent of the funding will exacerbate an already dire situation.
"The Australian Greens successfully negotiated for $60 million to be allocated for heritage conservation in last years' economic stimulus package. Minister Burke's own website states that this package created 2750 new jobs and funded 190 projects. The heritage portfolio offers a unique and sustainable area for job creation, conservation and education that should be developed by the Gillard government, not destroyed, which is essentially what these cuts will do."