Territories and Regional Support
Contact Rosanne Kava
First Assistant Secretary
Territories and Regional Support Division
Phone (02) 6274 8177
LINKS TO PORTFOLIO OUTCOME
The Territories and Regional Support Division provides policy advice and services relevant to the interests of regional, rural and remote Australian communities including Australia's self-governing and non-self-governing territories, linking our remotest regions to national objectives and planning.
Jervis Bay Territory
Following agreement between the Prime Minister and Premier of New South Wales (NSW) the Department has commenced preliminary discussions with NSW officials about a greater role for the NSW Government in service provision in the Jervis Bay Territory, and the potential for a closer association between the Territory and State.
The Department advanced social justice issues in the Territory, notably access to community service orders and the Aboriginal interview friend facility, through the establishment of the Justice Issues Group which will be developed further in the coming year. A new contract with the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council for grounds maintenance commenced, following a tender process.
The Department initiated an agreement with Integral Energy to maintain electricity infrastructure in the Territory. An agreement was established with Shoalhaven City Council for fire services. Contracts with LJ Hooker Jervis Bay (housing management), Jirgens Contracting (maintenance of municipal services) and Asset Services (maintenance of commercial buildings) were evaluated and extended for a further year.
Indian Ocean Territories
The Department provided assistance and evidence to the Commonwealth Grants Commissions inquiry and subsequent 1999 Report on Indian Ocean Territories, including material on the full accrual cost of service delivery. The report concluded that most Commonwealth, State and local government type services are provided at levels equivalent to those found in comparable communities. Additional funding for areas identified by the Commission has been approved by the Government in the 200001 Budget.
The Department has entered into three new service delivery arrangements with the Western Australian Government, bringing the total number of arrangements in place to 27, with a further nine in various stages of development. Twelve arrangements were reviewed during the year and recommended for renewal.
In August 1999 and June 2000 inter-governmental meetings were held on Norfolk Island between the Commonwealth Government and Norfolk Island Government. Key issues discussed included the transfer of powers, health services, medical evacuations, rock-crushing facilities, the Commonwealth-Norfolk Island Land Initiative, the Norfolk Island heritage regime, immigration, and telecommunications infrastructure.
Full membership of the Ministerial Council on Gambling was secured for the Norfolk Island Government to ensure its inclusion in all Commonwealth Government initiatives concerning Internet gaming, consistent with the involvement of other State and self-governing Territory governments.
The Department, Norfolk Island Government and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs continued to work cooperatively to address the risk to mainland border control and security created by Norfolk Islands separate immigration regime. Strategies to resolve issues of mutual concern, including requirements for Australian visas, are being developed.
The Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) is an area of national and international significance overseen jointly by the Commonwealth and Norfolk Island governments. Highlights include the development of a draft business plan and draft financial management plan for the Board, progress on the review of KAVHAs viewshed, and consideration of the future use of the restored house at Number 9, Quality Row. Early this year the Commonwealth Government contributed $392 000 and in June 2000 an additional $71 800 for deferred maintenance to heritage buildings.
In 1998 the Commonwealth made available an interest-free loan to the Norfolk Island Government for works to make Cascade Cliff safe. Stabilisation works for this project were completed in June 2000 and a total of $2.77 million ($2.18 million spent during the 19992000 financial year) has been drawn from the approved loan of $3.5 million.
Legislation to amend the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 to permit the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries was prepared as part of the Portfolio Bill. Debate of the Bill has been adjourned.
Australian Capital Territory
The Canberra Region Ministerial Forum, chaired by Senator The Hon. Ian Macdonald and supported by the Department, provides the ACT and regional business community, local federal Members and the ACT Government with a means to discuss and resolve issues of common interest. The Focus on Business event held in March 2000 received sponsorship of $50 000 in 199899 from the Department and has stimulated extra business estimated at between $5 million and $12 million for ACT region businesses.
The Department also participates in the Australian Capital Region Development Council which aims to enhance the economic development of the region. The Councils Industry Development and Promotion Program received $30 000 sponsorship from the Department in 1999-2000. The ACT Government received sponsorship of $60 000 for a study of the MICE (Meeting Incentive Convention and Event) market.
South East Queensland Regional Coordination Committee (SEQ2001 RCC)
The SEQ2001 RCC is a joint Commonwealth, Queensland Government and local government venture responsible for the development and oversight of a growth management strategy for South East Queensland. The Department supports the federal representative on the Committee and is a member of the Review Committee which is updating the growth management strategy and planning a comprehensive review.
Regional Flood Mitigation Programme
The Regional Flood Mitigation Programme was launched by the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government on 12 May 1999 with a Commonwealth commitment of $20 million over three years. In the first year of the program $5.5 million Commonwealth funding was approved for 43 priority projects, resulting in a total funding commitment from all three levels of government of more than $15 million. Projects funded include flood warning systems, levees, detention basins and channel improvements, all contributing to the improved safety of regional communities. Year two of the program has had a strong response, 240 expressions of interest received.
Through the program the Division has become involved in broader natural disaster mitigation issues. The National Emergency Management Committee agreed in November 1999 to an initiative proposed by the Department to undertake a Disaster Mitigation Research Study to address the lack of information in Australia on the cost of disasters and the savings that result from mitigation measures.
Cyclones Elaine and Vance Trust Fund
On 5 May 1999, a Trust Fund to assist victims of cyclones Elaine and Vance was established, comprising a $5 million contribution from the Commonwealth and $5 million from the Western Australian Government. In December 1999 the Trust Fund duration was extended to 31 December 2000; $8.996 million has been expended so far including $5.36 million of business assistance grants, $0.230 million in emergency accommodation assistance, $1.534 million for restoration of essential services, and $1.872 million for the reconstruction of community facilities.
Consultation in the Indian Ocean Territories
The Administrator for the Indian Ocean Territories, Bill Taylor, has placed a high priority on enhancing community consultation.
Mr Taylor established an Administrators Advisory Committee for each Territory in late 1999 to consider the broader public policy issues affecting the social and economic well-being of residents of the Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Members of the committees include the Administrator (Chair) and Deputy Administrator, representatives of the Shire councils, Chamber of Commerce, business associations, Chinese, Malay and Cocos Malay communities, womens associations, union representatives, tourism bodies, group training authorities, Australian Federal Police and Parks Australia. Each committee meets at least quarterly and in response to pressing issues. The Committee meetings prepare recommendations, where appropriate, for on-island and external authorities. Issues discussed thus far include on-island multicultural cohesion, future labour force needs and projections, and air services.
While the committees are in their early stages of development, there has been positive community feedback.
A section of the Administrator's Advisory Committee in Christmas Island considers the 1999 Commonwealth Grants Commission Report.
Left to right: Graham Nicholls (Deputy Administrator), Alan Fealy (representative of Indian Ocean Group Training Association), Councillor Mariam Kawi (representative of Islamic Council), Bill Taylor (Administrator), Michael Asims (Manager, Christmas Island Resort), Paul Maberly (on-island representative of Asia Pacific Space Centre).
ENVIRONMENTAL PERFORMANCEThe Territories and Regional Support Division has environmental management responsibilities for Australia's non-selfgoverning territories equivalent to State level responsibilities. In addition to meeting these responsibilities, all policy and program development takes into account the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD). The Division has also ensured that relevant parties are aware of the implications of the incoming Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The responsibilities and processes are met through strategies and programs outlined below.
Environmental management of the Indian Ocean Territories is provided at State level including advice and environmental monitoring, environmental impact assessment, pollution licensing, and community liaison services.
Rehabilitation of old mine sites on Christmas Island is carried out for future development purposes or for incorporation into the Christmas Island National Park. Phosphate Resources Ltd is required to contribute a self-funded levy for the rehabilitation. Other environmental obligations relate to dust suppression and noise reduction.
Environmental assessment of major capital works projects on Cocos (Keeling) Islands was undertaken in 19992000 including proposals for port facilities at Rumah Baru and the construction of sewage treatment systems on West and Home islands. On Christmas Island, the proponent of a satellite launching facility at South Point prepared a draft Environmental Impact Statement. The Minister for Environment and Heritage has now advised that there is no environmental reason the project should not proceed, provided the proponent accepts the stringent environmental conditions set out in the Environment Assessment Report.
Jervis Bay Territory funds a program for the treatment of sewage and water discharge which is then disposed of as grey water on the golf course at HMAS Creswell.
Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area on Norfolk Island is funded and jointly managed by a Board established by a Memorandum of Understanding between the Norfolk Island Government and the Commonwealth Government. The Board seeks to ensure that all decisions taken are consistent with relevant environmental and heritage requirements.
Regional Flood Mitigation Programme guidelines outline the assessment criteria for project applications. The four basic categories are: (i) effectiveness in mitigating the impacts of flooding; (ii) the economic effectiveness of the project; (iii) the social benefits of the project; and (iv) the environmental impact, positive and negative, of the project. These criteria are based on the principles of ESD and are reflected throughout the decision-making of the program.
The Divisions direct services to its Ministers and Parliamentary Secretary involved more than 320 items, of which 93 per cent were rated satisfactory.
A variety of mechanisms is in place to ensure that territory communities are consulted on decisions that will affect services provided to them, and includes Administrators' Advisory Committees, Community Consultative Committees, Justice Issues Group, and more formal review mechanisms including recourse to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Client Service Charters are maintained by each Territory Administration of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island, Jervis Bay Territory, and the Office of the Administrator of Norfolk Island. The Charters detail the range of services provided, expected standards of service, rights and responsibilities of clients, and ways in which clients can provide feedback about the standard of service. All the Service Charters were developed in consultation with clients and include access to independent channels of complaint such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Reviews of the terms and effectiveness are being undertaken in consultation with clients.
During 19992000 no formal complaints were received concerning the services provided by the Jervis Bay Territory Administration or the Office of the Administrator of Norfolk Island. The latter received several (verbal) compliments and messages of thanks. No formal complaints were received concerning the services provided by the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Administration. One residents concern about administration procedures for invitations to official functions at Government House was addressed. Four formal complaints were received concerning the services provided by the Christmas Island Administration, two related to health services and two public housing issues. All four complaints were resolved. The Christmas Island Administration also received numerous verbal and written compliments on services provided in the areas of health, port services and general administration.
TERRITORIES ASSET MANAGEMENT
Departmental assets on Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and in the Jervis Bay Territory are currently valued at more than $180 million.
In 1999 the Department made a commitment to the Commonwealth to develop a Departmental Strategic Asset Management Plan to address the acquisition and replacement of all departmental assets in the accruals environment. Consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers were engaged to assist in completing the plan. They were instructed to give particular attention to aligning assets with the delivery of services in the territories communities. The consultancy report, completed on 30 June 2000, will be used in analysing future strategic management options for territories assets.
During 1999-2000 a total of $18.44 million was spent on capital works projects in the Territories in line with the Governments objective of aligning public infrastructure with conditions in mainland Australia. It included $13.19 million on Christmas Island and $5.17 million on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and was consistent with the priority listing of capital works items in the Commonwealth Grants Commissions 1999 Report on the Indian Ocean Territories.
Major works items completed on Christmas Island included public housing units in Poon Saan and water supply system repairs, while work commenced on Poon Saan single persons units, Smith Point Road reconstruction, Jedda water main replacement and low voltage reticulation replacement. On Cocos (Keeling) Islands items completed include upgrading the West Island Health Centre, construction of a new technology centre at the school, a new water gallery on Home Island and wharf upgrading. Items commenced include lagoon navigation works, environmental monitoring and assessment of the Rumah Baru marine facility and high voltage reticulation upgrading. In the Jervis Bay Territory work commenced on upgrading the sewage treatment plant and the water supply reservoirs.
Download Performance Tables [PDF: 45 KB] as Adobe Acrobat PDF document.
Output 1.1 Policy advice and Ministerial services
Output 3.1 Services for regional, rural and remote communities, including Stateequivalent
services to the Commonwealths non-self-governing territories
Output 3.2 Administration of programs and grants for communities
Output 5.1 Collection of taxes and levies on behalf of the Commonwealth
Administered Item 1.1 Services to communities
Administered Item 1.2 Grants to States/Territories and local government