Labor has always strongly supported the Indigenous Rangers and the Indigenous Protected Areas programs. We increased the number of rangers when in government and worked closely with indigenous communities and Traditional Owners on important issues such as turtle and dugong management, national and world heritage listings. We also expanded the Indigenous Protected Area network.
The Indigenous Protected Areas program was funded under Labor’s previous environment programs such as Caring for our Country and as we refine conservation policies over this term it will definitely be included in the policy development process.
Along with the ranger program it recognises Indigenous Australians’ strong relationship to country. The land management and conservation work done by rangers is invaluable in the protection of our environment and Indigenous Protected Areas making up almost one half of Australia’s National Reserve System.
A Labor Government will provide over $230 million over 5 years to double the number of Indigenous rangers under the Working for Country program to over 1600 full-time equivalent rangers. We have made this commitment a number of times and it will be an election promise.
Labor will ensure Indigenous rangers are able to continue and expand their work in the management of cultural sites, heritage values, fire regimes, biodiversity, feral animals, weeds, land disturbance, pollution and climate change impacts.
By contrast, the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government has refused to provide job security for Indigenous rangers, leaving the Working on Country program mired in uncertainty.
Labor will fight to defend the Working on Country program and will include the Indigenous Protected Areas program in our policy mix. Labor is committed to conservation and helping close to the Indigenous disadvantage gap by achieving a broad range of cultural, social, education, health, employment and economic development outcomes.