Major Issues and Highlights, by Division


Australian Transport Safety Bureau
Business and Information Services Groups (formerly Corporate)
Cross-Modal and Maritime Transport
Economic Research and Environment (incorporating the Bureau of Transport Economics)
Executive Services Group
Land Transport
Regional Services, Development and Local Government
Territories and Regional Support


click here to go to Airports home page

Contact: Martin Dolan
First Assistant Secretary
Airports Division
Phone: (02) 6274 7613

Overview of Performance

The Governments objectives for Australia's major airports entail the provision of effective airports infrastructure with increased private sector involvement. Importantly, they also focus on measures to protect the community from the adverse environmental effects of airport operations.

In meeting these objectives, Airports Division balanced airport operation, community interests and environmental concerns in dealing with airport developments, such as the upgrading of Canberra Airport. It continued its efforts to minimise the impact of aircraft noise on communities surrounding airports through community consultation and, where appropriate, implementing noise insulation programs.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Sydney's Future Airport Needs

Airports Division performed research and policy tasks on the complex issue of Sydneys future airport needs, culminating in the Governments announcement in December 2000 that it would be premature to build a second major airport in the city. Sydney Airport would be able to handle the air traffic over the next ten years, with Bankstown Airport being made available as an overflow airport for Sydney. The new owner of Bankstown Airport would be encouraged to extend the main runway so it could handle regular passenger aircraft, and to build a new passenger terminal, subject to the completion of necessary environmental assessments.

Slot Management Scheme

The Slot Management Scheme came into effect in 1998 and provides a system for the allocation of arrival and departure slots at Sydney Airport within the maximum movement limit. The Scheme is a planning mechanism aimed at reducing congestion and delays.

In association with the decision on Sydneys future airport needs, the Minister announced that the Government would be amending the Slot Management Scheme at Sydney Airport. The proposed amendments include the capping of regional service peak hour slots at current levels to maintain access to Sydney Airport for regional communities.

Airports Division prepared a draft amendment to the Sydney Airport Demand Management Act 1997 and assisted in the preparation of a public discussion paper detailing the proposed amendments to the Slot Management Scheme. To meet airline scheduling lead times, the amendments were finalised in May 2001 and are to come into effect for the start of the Northern Winter Scheduling Season in October 2001.

Badgerys Creek Site

The Government decided to retain ownership of the Badgerys Creek airport site and develop legislation to protect the site from incompatible development in surrounding areas. Airports Division developed options for drafting and implementing appropriate legislation.

We continued to oversee management agreements for the Badgerys Creek site and off-site properties. We maintained close liaison with the Australian Government Solicitor in progressing the remaining compensation claims arising from the compulsory acquisition of airport site properties. Only three claims remain outstanding.

Airport Sales

Airports Division arranged studies and provided policy advice in support of the Governments consideration of the sale of the Sydney basin airports. Following the Governments announcement in March 2000 to proceed immediately with the sale of Sydney Airport, we provided extensive support to the Office of Asset Sales and Commercial Support (OASCS) to ensure that the sale process met the objectives and requirements of the Airports Act 1996. We also supported to OASCS in its sale of Essendon Airport.

Canberra Airport Upgrade

Airports Division undertook negotiations and made arrangements with the operator of Canberra Airport to implement the Governments decision to upgrade the Airport to international wide-bodied jet standard. The upgrade of the Airport will enable VIP Boeing 747 aircraft to fly directly to Canberra.

Aircraft Noise

Airports Division worked with the International Civil Aviation Organisation Committee on Aviation Environment Protection on its development of aircraft noise standards, aviation engine emissions policy and environment-related aircraft operational practices. At the fifth Committee on Aviation Environment Protection meeting held in Montreal in January 2001 member States, including Australia, agreed to a new aircraft noise standard for subsonic jet aircraft that would apply to new prototypes of jet aircraft certificated from 1 January 2006. Over time the new standard will lead to substantially decreased aircraft noise.

Environmental Regulation

The lessees of 20 Federal airports have developed environment strategies that have been approved by the Minister for Transport and Regional Services. The strategies encompass measures to prevent or minimise:

  • environmental pollution at airport sites;
  • impact on biota or habitat; and
  • interference with sites of heritage value or sites of significance to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.

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Australian Transport Safety Bureau

click here to go to Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) home page

Contact: Kym Bills
Executive Director
Australian Transport Safety Bureau
Phone: (02) 6274 6456

Overview of Performance

A key transport objective of the Government is to maintain and improve safety. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) contributed to this objective by undertaking investigations, research and analysis, administering the Black Spot Program and publicising key safety data and findings.

We also encouraged preventive action and, where necessary, made recommendations based on transport investigations, with a view to improving levels of safety for passengers, transport professionals, the general public and freight, as well as to reduce the community costs of transport accidents. We completed our road safety research management program and achieved our targets for the publication of road safety statistical information. In January 2001 ATSB was accepted as a member of the International Transportation Safety Association. The ATSB website continued to be highly popular, increasingly comprehensive and user friendly. We met requests for 8 878 items of safety information in a timely fashion.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Aviation Safety

ATSB published 103 reports on aviation investigations in 2000–01, well below the capacity estimate of up to 230 in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2000–01. The main reason for this was the decision to reclassify minor occurrences where investigation could not be justified as the best use of available resources. However, these occurrences were entered into ATSB's safety database. In 2000–01 we published air safety investigation reports of significant public interest, including a report of the systemic inquiry into the AVGAS fuel contamination and the accident investigation report into the QF1 Bangkok 747 runway accident. Important safety recommendations issued included those related to the maintenance problems of Ansett 767 aircraft.

Marine Safety

ATSB published seven reports on marine investigations in 2000–01. Of significant public interest was the Marine Investigation Unit report into the grounding of the Malay flag Bunga Teratai Satu on Sudbury Reef south of Cairns on 2 November 2000. ATSB's Marine Investigation Unit continues to be active in the International Maritime Organisation, particularly in the areas of ship fires, lifeboat accidents and the analysis of casualties involving groundings and collisions. The Marine Investigation Unit chairs the Marine Accident Investigators International Forum.

Rail Safety

ATSB made progress during 2000–01 in developing a national rail safety occurrence database. We expect that the database will be operational in 200102. ATSB's rail safety staff were heavily involved in developing Commonwealth multi-modal safety investigation legislation. ATSB also assisted Standards Australia to develop rail investigation guidelines. At the request of the Victorian Minister for Transport, through the Victorian Department of Infrastructure, ATSB has been investigating a derailment involving the Xpress passenger train at Wodonga in April and an accident at Footscray in June.

Road Safety

ATSB coordinated the National Road Safety Strategy for 2001–10 and the National Road Safety Action Plan for 2001 and 2002, which were launched by Ministers comprising the Australian Transport Council in November 2000. The new strategy has a national target of a 40 per cent reduction in the road fatality rate over 10 years from 9.3 deaths per 100 000 population to 5.6.

In administering some 440 Black Spot Road Safety Program projects across Australia, ATSB assisted the Government in reducing the national road toll through improvement in road conditions in critical areas. The Bureau of Transport Economics conducted an evaluation of the program, and the excellent results were published in August 2001.

We undertook 51 vehicle safety investigations to assist the Treasury under the Trade Practices Act and monitored the effectiveness of 111 vehicle safety recalls.

Senator the Hon. Ron Boswell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, released a number of ATSB's road safety research and statistical reports throughout the year. These reports included:

  • the expert group on fatigue report, Options for Regulatory Approach to Fatigue in Drivers of Heavy Vehicles in Australia and New Zealand;
  • Novice Driver Safety Information; and
  • the report on Bull Bars and Road Trauma.

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click here to go to Aviation home page

Contact: Robyn Beetham
First Assistant Secretary
Aviation Division
Phone: (02) 6274 7392

Overview of Performance

The Governments objectives in aviation embrace a wide range of domestic and international issues. Domestically, it is concerned to ensure safe, efficient air services for the Australian community. Internationally, its objective is to ensure that Australians have maximum access to overseas markets and service providers, in relation to both passenger and freight transport, through the freeing up of trade.

Accordingly, Aviation Division has played an important role in enhancing the quality of domestic aviation services through:

  • further improvements in our safety arrangements;
  • improved services to regional and remote areas; and
  • the protection of consumer interests, which includes measures to enhance carriers liability obligations and to protect the security of passengers.

We have continued our pursuit of greater access to overseas markets, achieving further progress in the liberalisation of aviation services, including the finalisation of our first open skies agreement.

A number of events during the year, including the grounding of Ansett's Boeing 767 fleet on 12 April 2001, focused public attention on the regulation of aviation safety in Australia and the role of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. We worked closely with industry and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to facilitate a better understanding of roles and responsibilities within the Government's aviation safety framework.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Bilateral Aviation, Consultations and Agreements

On 20 November 2000, Australias first open skies air services agreement was concluded when our Minister and the New Zealand Minister for Transport, Mark Gosche, signed a memorandum of agreement in Melbourne. The agreement removes all impediments to Australian and New Zealand carriers operating trans-Tasman, domestic and beyond services from either country, subject to the necessary safety approvals.

We concluded new access arrangements with 14 other bilateral partners, with increased levels of liberalisation. In relation to freight, open skies arrangements are now a standing offer to Australias bilateral partners. Dedicated freight capacity is unconstrained between Australia and 22 other countries.

Policy Development and Implementation

Australia is pursuing liberalisation of air services in the World Trade Organisation and put Australias case for the expansion of the Air Services Annex to the Council on Trade in Services at two special meetings in Geneva in late 2000.

International Civil Aviation Organisation

DOTARS led the Australian delegation to the third meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Facilitation Panel in Montreal and played a major role in the Panels work, which is concerned with enhancing the movement of passengers and freight through international airports.

Consumer Protection

We undertook a number of initiatives during the year to advance the interests of aviation consumers. These included the release in January 2001 of a departmental discussion paper, dealing with the ratification of the Montreal Convention 1999, and proposing enhanced liability protection for passengers. The Damage by Aircraft Act 1999, which came into force on 8 November 2000, improves compensation for third parties on the ground who suffer death, injury or damage from aircraft. In January 2001 we circulated to industry a discussion paper on the adoption of an Aviation Family Assistance Plan, the aim of which is to ensure that in the event of a major accident, all airlines operating to, from and within Australia are able to fulfil their responsibilities to passengers and families of passengers.

Coordination of the Use of Satellite Technology

The Australian Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Coordination Committee developed a draft national strategic policy on GNSS. When finalised, the policy will assist in achieving coordinated, efficient use of GNSS technology in transport and non-transport sectors.

Aviation Safety

We worked closely with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in pursuing a number of mutual objectives. These included:

  • the development of a new suite of regulations to govern the provision of air traffic, rescue and firefighting services at airports, expected to be implemented in late 2002; and
  • negotiations with the United States regarding the establishment of a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement.

The first stage of the bilateral agreement was a United States assessment of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which was favourable, and the next step is a return visit by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to assess the compatibility of the United States system.

Remote Air Service Subsidy Scheme

Following the Government decision to provide an additional $5.2 million for the Remote Air Service Subsidy scheme over four years from 2000–01, DOTARS has let new contracts for continuation of passenger services (involving over 200 remote communities). We are now in the process of expanding the scheme to include additional communities. We have extended the schemes quality, as well as range, by ensuring passenger services are provided on all routes.

Sydney 2000 Olympics

DOTARS played an important advisory role in relation to the planning and implementation of aviation facilitation and security requirements for the Sydney 2000 Games held in September–October 2000. The overwhelming success of Sydney Airports handling of Olympic arrivals and departures was testimony to the work of many Commonwealth and State agencies and the aviation industry. We were pleased to play a part in the resounding success of the Sydney 2000 Games.

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Business and Information Services Groups (formerly Corporate)

Contact: Rosanne Kava
General Manager
Business Group
Phone: (02) 6274 8177
Faye Powell
General Manager
Information Services Group
Phone: (02) 6274 7302

Overview of Performance

Business Group and Information Services Group provided administrative, financial, legal, and information and people management services to the Departments Divisions to facilitate their delivery of business outputs and administered items.

In accordance with Government policy and to improve the cost-effectiveness of services that DOTARS delivers, Business Group is undertaking the market testing of corporate services, as well as managing a number of business process improvement projects as part of its Output Pricing Review.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Market Testing of Corporate Services

In response to the Governments policy of market testing corporate services, Divisional Support Units and the Corporate Division combined on 21 May 2001 to form Business Group and Information Services Group. This reorganisation rationalised functions, provided centralised service delivery and responded to the increased demand for information technology support. For more information, see Part 4 Competitive Tendering and Contracting.

Output Pricing Review

An Output Pricing Review was initiated during the year in response to the Governments requirement for DOTARS to enter into a multi-year pricing agreement for the provision of its outputs from 200203.

The review revised the accrual outcome and outputs framework, developed an Activity Based Costing system, inspected the departmental performance management framework and commenced an examination of the major departmental processes.

By the end of 2001, all reviews will have been completed and the departmental executive will have considered the recommendations regarding further process re-engineering, structural adjustment and possible technology investment.

Human Resource Management

Active human resource management continued to be a characteristic and major strength of DOTARS. Key achievements included:

  • further development of the Results Through People management framework;
  • updating the Secretary's Statement of Future Skills Requirements; and
  • improvement in the reporting of people management information.

Leadership was a prominent theme. We:

  • implemented a Leadership Program;
  • investigated diagnostic and feedback tools, such as 360 degree feedback for implementation in 200102; and
  • have been developing a leadership profile.

Further details on these activities are provided in Part 4.

Information Technology and Telecommunications

The Departments Information Technology and Telecommunications (IT&T) operations continued to be provided and managed by Advantra Pty Ltd, as the Departments primary external IT&T service provider. A small team remains in-house to handle policy, security, strategy, management of out-of-scope services, advice on IT&T issues and management of IT&T contracts.

Advantra and departmental staff continue to work together to foster a positive working relationship. There were, however, some instances where DOTARS exercised its contract rights to impose service penalties against Advantra for periods of disruption.

Advantra completed its rollout of the new Standard Operating Environment in May and decommissioned the BANYAN Vines network afterwards. The new Standard Operating Environment provides DOTARS with an industry standard network environment with improved features.

Online Strategy

DOTARS is committed to the priorities outlined in the Government Online Strategy, and to adopting online technologies to provide better services and improve business practices. We published our Online Action Plan, required under the Strategy, and achieved its milestones for 1 December 2000 in relation to forms online, payment of suppliers by electronic funds transfer and new standards for our website(s). We are working to implement other e-commerce solutions for activities such as procurement and revenue collection.

The Government Online Strategy has also provided the impetus to extend the concept of readily accessible information on government services using a regional entry point. We are working collaboratively with other Commonwealth agencies on the regional entry point to enable people to interact with government via the Internet without needing to understand the details of how government is structured and the roles and responsibilities of different agencies.

Financial and Budget Management

Substantial work was carried out this year in further enhancing the Departments financial and budget management systems and processes. Major areas of activity included:

  • commencement of an upgrade of the Departments SAP-based financial and human resource management systems to version 4.6C (planned to be complete early in the new fiscal year);
  • review of accounting policies with the aim of new asset accounting policies and revised Chief Executives Instructions; and
  • enhanced internal reporting and accounting systems controls.

The SAP upgrade will enable DOTARS to capitalise on its existing investment in the SAP system, to further improve its internal and external reporting arrangements, and to enable the production of enhanced business systems.

Relocation of Departmental Headquarters

DOTARS finalised the relocation of its Canberra-based staff to new refurbished premises and the majority of staff are now co-located at 111 Alinga Street, Canberra City. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has relocated to a completely refurbished building at 15 Mort Street. New laboratories and data analysis rooms were provided for ATSB as part of the project.

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Cross-Modal and Maritime Transport

Contact: Greg Feeney
First Assistant Secretary
Cross-Modal and Maritime Transport Division
Phone: (02) 6274 7663

Overview of Performance

Government objectives for cross-modal and maritime transport include enhancing Australias international competitiveness through integrated, seamless, accessible and sustainable transport systems. In particular, transport and logistics systems need to make use of new technologies and be responsive to community needs, enabling Australian business to compete in global and regional, as well as domestic, markets.

To this end, Cross-Modal and Maritime Transport Division increased its focus on the freight logistics industry and transport linkages with Australias major trading partners. It has also assisted the maritime sector improve its productivity, with significant gains being made in the areas of stevedoring and increasing coastal freight by international shipping. The maritime sector is now sufficiently efficient to provide some significant competition to the road and rail sectors and help facilitate seamless transport links throughout the entire chain.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Australian Freight Transport Logistics Industry Action Agenda

Action agendas are key elements of the Governments policy of building partnerships with industry to achieve sustainable economic growth in a competitive global environment. In 2000, the Minister announced the development of a new Action Agenda for the Australian freight transport logistics industry to address impediments to growth and develop a national plan of action to achieve a sustainable, internationally competitive freight transport logistics industry.

The Minister appointed the Steering Committee for the Action Agenda in January 2001. It represents a diverse range of industry expertise, including leading transport operators and logistics specialists, and major customers of freight transport logistic services. The Committee had its first meeting in February 2001 and identified three focus areas business process re-engineering, education and training, and industry directions. Working Groups have been established to examine the three areas in detail and report findings back to the Steering Committee.

Great Barrier Reef Review

In November 2000 the Minister released the terms of reference for a review of actions to improve ship safety and pollution prevention in the Great Barrier Reef. The review is to build on existing measures aimed at protecting the reefs unique environment from possible damage by shipping activities and at minimising the risk of ship-sourced pollution.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is coordinating the review, in consultation with the Queensland Department of Transport, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and DOTARS. A steering committee comprising senior officials from these agencies is overseeing the review and addressing legal, technical, operational, commercial and indigenous issues involved. Input is being sought from interested parties, including maritime industry, environmental groups, indigenous communities and other relevant Commonwealth and Queensland departments and agencies. The steering committees final report is to be presented early in 200102.

International Activities

The Minister visited China, 812 April 2001, and signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the transport sector with the Senior Executive Vice Chairman of the State Development Planning Commission, Mr Zhang Guobao. This provided for the establishment of a Joint Working Group on Transport, which will be a useful forum for Australian-Chinese dialogue and cooperation. The first of many projects to be undertaken by the Joint Working Group is a demonstration project that will design a single electronic port and customs manifest and trial it for a year between an Australian and Chinese port. Related memoranda were also signed with the:

  • Ministry of Communications on cooperation in highway and waterway transport;
  • Ministry of Railways on cooperation in rail transport; and
  • Aviation Safety Office of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China on cooperation in aviation safety investigations.

The International Symposium on Safer Shipping in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Region was held in Sydney, 67 March 2001. It was organised and chaired by DOTARS on behalf of the APEC Transportation Working Group, and funded by APEC and DOTARS.

Sixty recommendations which will form the basis for a draft ministerial statement on safer shipping in the APEC region were put forward for consideration by APEC Transportation Ministers at their next meeting.

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Economic Research and Environment (incorporating the Bureau of Transport Economics)

Contact: Tony Slatyer
First Assistant Secretary, Economic Research and Environment
Executive Director, Bureau of Transport Economics
Phone: (02) 6274 6801

Overview of Performance

The Government has sought to improve understanding of the economic factors influencing the transport sector and regional Australia, and to achieve transport systems which are sustainable.

To this end, the Bureau of Transport Economics (BTE) completed several research projects, and disseminated a range of other information products. The BTE Transport Colloquium provided a forum for discussion of a wide range of current and potential future transport policy issues in the areas of transport safety, infrastructure investment, local roads, regional aviation, salinity and greenhouse.

The Environment Group provided advice to Ministers and worked with industry on several key environment policy issues affecting this portfolio: these included the preparations for, and outcomes of, international climate change negotiations and domestic measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Environment Group also worked with other Commonwealth agencies to ensure a strategic approach to environmental issues, such as dryland salinity and water quality which have impacts across sectors and regions and the Governments Fuel Taxation Inquiry. The Group has also worked with State and Territory agencies to progress the implementation of the National Greenhouse Strategy and to further approaches to sustainable transport through the National Transport Secretariats work for the Australian Transport Council in this area.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Bureau of Transport Economics Publications

BTE publications in 2000–01 were:
Report 103, Economic Costs of Natural Disasters in Australia
Working Paper 44, Spending on Local Roads
Working Paper 45, Brisbane-Melbourne Rail Link: Economic Analysis
Working Paper 46, Regional Impact of the Port of Mackay
Working Paper 47, Regional Impact of the Port of Gladstone
Information Sheet 17, Freight between Australian Cities


The Bureau also circulated draft reports on Transport and Greenhouse and on Regulation of Infrastructure: Impacts on Investment.

Economic Costs of Natural Disasters in Australia (Report 103)

This report provided a first step in better understanding the costs of natural disasters in Australia. A framework for estimating the costs of natural disasters was established.

The report estimated that 265 disasters occurred between 1967 and 1999 and cost the Australian community $37.8 billion in 1999 prices, at an average cost of $1.1 billion per year or $85 per person per year.

Spending on Local Roads (Working Paper 44)

This report presents results of BTE research on local road funding.

For 199798, the most recent year for which complete data is available, the study results show that:

  • Council spending on local roads totalled $2.7 billion $1.4 billion in city areas and $1.3 billion in country regions;
  • Funding came from four sources: Commonwealth roads grants (13 per cent), State grants (11 per cent), the private sector (5 per cent), and councils own funds (71 per cent). (The private sector figure is uncertain because of data problems and may be lower).

Brisbane-Melbourne Rail Link: Economic Analysis (Working Paper 45)

Australian Transport & Energy Corridor Ltd (ATEC) completed a pre-feasibility study of a new rail corridor linking Melbourne and Brisbane and passing through a number of regional centres. The ATEC study considers the financial viability of the project by comparing benefits and costs for private sector investors.

The Bureau undertook an economic benefit-cost analysis of the project. The net present value was estimated to be over $8 billion, with a benefit-cost ratio above six, at a 4 per cent discount rate. The analysis relies significantly on information and estimates contained in the ATEC financial pre-feasibility study.

Environment Group

The Environment Group:

  • participated in development of policy options as part of the National Transport Secretariats project Improving the environmental performance of the transport sector;
  • began consideration of options for the Energy Grants Credits Scheme to replace the Diesel and Alternative Fuels Grants Scheme and the Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme;
  • worked with the aviation industry and international aviation and climate change bodies considering options to mitigate the impact of aviation on climate change;
  • managed the Departments responsibilities under the National Greenhouse Strategy; and
  • managed the Departments interests in relation to the natural resource management reforms, including the National Action Plan on Salinity and Water Quality.

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Executive Services Group

Contact: Andrew Wilson
Acting Assistant Secretary
Executive Services Group
Phone: (02) 6274 7611

Overview of Performance

The Executive Services Group (ESG) was established in December 2000 to provide support to the Departments Executive, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretary.

ESG provided a wide range of support services to assist in the Departments delivery of its outputs.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Standing Committee on Transport Review

Arising from a decision of Ministers at the November 1999 meeting of the Australian Transport Council (ATC), a comprehensive review of the direction and performance of ATC and its supporting senior officials, the Standing Committee on Transport (SCOT), was undertaken. The review included an examination of the structure and content of ATC and SCOT agendas, with a view to focusing more on key strategic issues of national importance, as well as an examination of the ATCs subordinate committee structure and business processes.

Initiatives aimed at improving the quality of support provided to ATC by SCOT and its substructure were endorsed and progressively implemented following completion of the review in October 2000. The effectiveness of the new arrangements will be monitored by SCOT to ensure Ministers expectations continue to be met.

Corporate Governance Review

In April 2001 ESG commissioned an external review of the Departments internal governance arrangements to determine gaps in process and structures and obtain advice on improving the overall efficacy of the governance arrangements. The review, which was not completed within the year, found that the Departments governance arrangements were soundly based but that some additional measures may be needed to fully capitalise on the work to date. Areas which need additional focus will be addressed in the final component of the work, which will be completed in 200102.

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Land Transport

Contact: Bill Ellis
First Assistant Secretary
Land Transport Division
Phone: (02) 6274 7651

Overview of Performance

Government priorities for land transport are to improve accessibility, environmental sustainability and safety.

To meet these objectives during 2000–01, the Land Transport Division delivered a range of transport policies, administered various road and rail infrastructure programs, and monitored the facilitation and regulation aspects of the road and motor vehicle industries.

Of note were our roles in leading-edge research into crash test standards to improve motor vehicle safety, in road transport reform and in improvements in the trucking industry.

In addition, we successfully managed the commencement of the Roads to Recovery Program by developing a secure website and email system to enable electronic funds transfer and interaction with over 700 councils throughout Australia. We also commenced work on a scoping study for the Government on the options for an east coast very high-speed train network.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Australian National Audit Office Audit Management of the National Highways System Program

During 1999 and 2000, the Australian National Audit Office conducted a performance audit of the Management of the National Highways System Program. The final report of the audit was tabled on 8 February 2001. The report contains six recommendations, five about program administration, which DOTARS has accepted, and one about the administration of the relevant legislation, which is being addressed.

The key issue raised by the report was that DOTARS failed to declare the full extent of funds credited to the Australian Land Transport Development Special Account (the ALTD Account) under the hypothecation provisions of the Australian Land Transport Development Act 1988 (the Act). Under the Act a certain proportion of excise on petrol and diesel fuel is earmarked for expenditure on programs. Unless the Minister administering the Act determines another rate, a default charge rate of 4.95 cents per litre applies. A different rate had not been determined by successive Ministers since 199394. This meant that by operation of the legislation, more money was credited to the ALTD Account than was spent on programs funded under the Act. Although there is no legal requirement to spend all the money credited to the ALTD Account, the annual reports of the ALTD program should have correctly reported the full balance of the Account rather than just the amount expended under the ALTD program.

The unspent credit does not mean that there has been a shortfall in road funding. Over the years since the Act was introduced, governments have made decisions to fund road programs, formerly funded under the Act, through other programs and legislation. Governments have, since 199495, spent $2.9 billion more on roads than the amount credited to the ALTD Account under the hypothecation provisions over that period.

To remove the excess credit to the ALTD Account, determinations under the Act to ensure that the amount credited to the account is equal to the expenditure under the Act have been made for the years 199495 to 19992000. These determinations brought the balance of the ALTD Account to zero as at 30 June 2000.

Sydney/Canberra Very High-Speed Train

In December 2000 the Commonwealth Government announced the termination of the Sydney-Canberra very high-speed train (VHST) tender process on the grounds that it was not convinced that the Speedrail consortiums bid met the no net cost to government criteria.

However, the Commonwealth Government believes that very high-speed rail could be part of Australias transport future. Accordingly, it announced it would negotiate with the States and the ACT to undertake a comprehensive scoping study examining options for an east coast VHST network, linking Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, and major regional and coastal centres along the route. DOTARS is managing the scoping study.

Vehicle Safety Standards

In December 2000, Land Transport Division hosted a workshop in Melbourne to provide an opportunity for international vehicle safety researchers to review the performance characteristics and handling procedures of the recently developed advanced side impact dummy. We also finalised a study into the effects of key parameters on the outcome of side impact testing, including choice of test dummies, direction of impact, impact speed and a number of design features of the crash barrier used to deliver the impact. We presented the results at the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles conference in Amsterdam in June 2001.

Following an announcement by the Government in May 2000, we have continued to ensure that used imported vehicles being supplied to the Australian market for the first time meet all applicable requirements. The new arrangements include implementation of a Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme, which will require that all used vehicles imported into Australia meet Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme criteria. The legislation for implementation of the schemes was introduced into Parliament in June 2001.

Road Transport Reform

Land Transport Division continued to work with the National Road Transport Commission (NRTC) and the States and Territories to progress national road transport reforms. In particular, the Commonwealth emphasised the importance of progressing two key reforms in the Third Heavy Vehicle Reform Package, which was endorsed by the Australian Transport Council in May 2000. These key reforms are the:

  • Heavy Vehicle Driver Health and Safety Reform, which focuses on driving hours and fatigue management; and
  • Compliance and Enforcement Reform.

These reforms are pivotal to improving safety standards and extending the concept of chain of responsibility throughout the supply chain. To assist with fast tracking the Compliance and Enforcement Reform, the Commonwealth made a $100 000 contribution to the NRTC. The Commonwealth also secured a contribution of $90 000 from the Workplace Relations Ministers Council to add to $130 000 previously contributed by the Commonwealth for the Reform.

The Commonwealth reached agreement with NSW for the implementation of higher mass limits on the Newell Highway from 1 July 2001. This will provide a continuous route for vehicles with road-friendly suspensions to carry heavier loads from Victoria to Queensland resulting in productivity gains for industry and savings for business and consumers. The Commonwealth has taken a lead role in encouraging national implementation of higher mass limits and is continuing to work with States and Territories to extend available routes.

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Regional Services, Development and Local Government

Contact: Sema Varova
First Assistant Secretary
Regional Services, Development and Local Government Division
Phone: (02) 6274 8050

Overview of Performance

The Governments objectives for Australias regions include enhancing the economic prosperity, employment prospects and social well-being for people in regional, rural and remote communities, and providing services and lifestyles comparable with those experienced by most Australians. This involves supporting regional communities in defining and prioritising their needs, and collaborating in building self-sustaining regions and communities.

Regional Services, Development and Local Government Division contributed to the Governments objectives by consulting with regional communities to identify areas of concern, and addressing these in partnership with Commonwealth agencies, State, Territory and local governments and the private sector.

A key initiative developed during the year was the Regional Solutions Program, aimed at assisting regional communities to develop innovative approaches to structural adjustment, infrastructure provision, resource management and service delivery.

The Northern Australia Forum was another such initiative and created awareness of northern Australias potential as an investment location. These initiatives complemented the intergovernmental framework of principles for regional development, agreed between the three levels of government.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Regional Solutions Program

The Regional Solutions Program is a Commonwealth Government initiative to help regional and rural communities find local solutions to local challenges. The program is based on flexibility and the belief that the one size fits all approach is not the answer for capacity building in regional Australia. The program provides some $86 million over four years to enable communities to put into action development projects that will lead to stronger local economies and improved access to services. Since the Regional Solutions Program was launched on 27 October 2000, about 1000 applications for funding have been received.

More Accessible Government

The more accessible government initiative aims to improve access to grant programs and streamline grant administration, particularly for regional, rural and remote communities. The process furthers collaborative work by Commonwealth Departments to achieve these outcomes.

GrantsLINK is the first product of the more accessible government initiative. GrantsLINK is an innovative new website that offers all communities the grants information they need, including advice on preparing applications. GrantsLINK was developed to assist communities to find a clear path through the many Commonwealth grants programs. GrantsLINK makes access easy, fast and straightforward, by bringing together grant information from across the Commonwealth into one website. Grants application forms have also been simplified.

Rural Transaction Centres Program

Rural Transaction Centres (RTC) Program is a Commonwealth Government initiative to assist people living in smaller rural towns to have the same access to basic services that people in larger towns and cities take for granted, including Commonwealth, State and local government services as well as banking, postal and other services needed by the community. In 2000–01, the RTC Program funded 75 business plans and 64 project assistance grants. A Field Officer Network was established in late February 2001 to work with communities to facilitate the development of business plans, negotiate agreements with potential service providers and assist in the establishment and operation of centres.

Framework for Cooperation

The Division chaired the Commonwealth, State, Territory and Local Government Regional Development Task Force. It coordinated and organised a meeting of Commonwealth, State and Territory Regional Development Ministers and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) for November 2000. The Ministers and ALGA agreed to a framework for increasing cooperation and collaboration between all levels of government on regional development matters. The framework set out the roles of each sphere of government in regional development and the principles governments will adopt to achieve better economic, social and environmental outcomes for regional Australians.

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Territories and Regional Support

click here to go to Territories home page

Contact: Mike Mrdak
First Assistant Secretary
Territories and Regional Support Division
Phone: (02) 6274 7390

Overview of Performance

The objective is for Territories which provide for their residents the same level of services, responsibilities and opportunities as is enjoyed by Australians in comparable communities. Accordingly, the Territories and Regional Support Division focuses on delivering services at State and local government level to regional and Territory communities and on administering programs that support them.

In 2000–01 the Division developed and provided special flood relief programs to communities affected by the November 2000 floods in northern NSW and southern Queensland, and to communities on the NSW north coast severely flooded between January and March 2001. These programs have provided essential assistance in restoring the communities.

Major Issues and Highlights, 2000–01

Jervis Bay Territory

DOTARS continued to advance social justice issues in the Jervis Bay Territory through the Justice Issues Group. A Canberra Institute of Technology accredited course was held during the year to train volunteers for an Aboriginal Interview Friend Program. This program is designed to provide support and assistance to indigenous people who have been taken into police custody.

A Jervis Bay Territory Liaison Group involving the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council, HMAS Creswell, Jervis Bay Territory Administration, Parks Australia, Jervis Bay School and the Australian Federal Police (Jervis Bay) was formed. This Group has a focus on community-building activities.

Indian Ocean Territories

Following the 1999 Commonwealth Grants Commission Report on the Indian Ocean Territories, an additional $2.9 million in funding was made available from 2000–01 to provide the equivalent of State-type services and assistance grants available on the mainland. Funding was also committed from 19992000 to continue the capital works upgrading program that commenced in 1992. This upgrading program will continue until 200304.

The role of Western Australian (WA) agencies in the provision of services to the Territories has increased in line with the Commonwealth objective of providing services at standards and levels comparable to those of similar mainland communities. For example, water and sewage services on both Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island are now provided by the WA Water Corporation.

Improvements in telecommunications services to the Territories have been made possible by funding provided through the Networking the Nation Program ($310 000 to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and $283 000 to Christmas Island), and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands top-level Internet domain name trust fund (Dot CC).

We have entered into a contract with National Jet Systems to provide scheduled air services between the Indian Ocean Territories and the Australian mainland. Services have increased to twice a week for both Territories.

Proposed Space Launch Facility for Christmas Island

The Government announced on 22 June 2001 that up to $100 million is to be provided through the Strategic Investment Initiatives Program to enable Asia-Pacific Space Centre to establish a space launch facility on Christmas Island.

In support of this project, funding is being provided for common use infrastructure involving upgrading of the Islands airport and provision of an alternate port facility. These projects will be delivered through the Departments capital works program for the Island.

Norfolk Island

The Commonwealth and Norfolk Island Governments are currently working on the joint Norfolk Island Land Initiative that will see, wherever possible, Norfolk Islanders, like other Australians, owning the land on which they live or operate their business.

At the intergovernmental meeting in June 2000, the Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government announced the Commonwealth's in principle agreement to withdraw from ownership of certain types of Crown land on Norfolk Island. Land in the Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area and the Norfolk Island National Park is not included in the Land Initiative.

The Commonwealth and Norfolk Island Governments have continued throughout the year to work together to review the Norfolk Island Plan, and to develop a local heritage regime, plans of management for public reserves, and road, building and health codes. The Commonwealth has also engaged environmental consultants to assess what, if any, national environmental significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 may exist on Crown leasehold land identified for future transfer.

Regional Flood Mitigation Program

Recognising the need to address the problem of repeated flooding in rural towns and regional centres, the Commonwealth Government announced the Regional Flood Mitigation Program in May 1999, in partnership with the States, Territories and local government. The Commonwealth Government provided $20 million over three years. Under the general funding arrangements, the Commonwealth contributes one-third of project costs. States are required to at least match Commonwealth funding, and may contribute more, with local authorities meeting the balance of project costs.

In the 2000–01 Budget, the Commonwealth Government announced a new $40 million program over four years to assist State and Territory Governments and local agencies reduce the risk and damage caused by floods in regional, rural and outer metropolitan areas of Australia. This will have significant benefits for the safety, economic prosperity and employment of people in those parts of Australia most prone to floods and cyclones. The three levels of government will be working together to more effectively reduce the vulnerability of communities at risk by extending the program to outer metropolitan areas, increasing the quantum of funds available for mitigation, and committing funds over a four year period from 200102.

Federal Flood Recovery Fund

In November 2000, the Commonwealth Government announced a $10 million Flood Recovery Fund to provide extra support to the rural and regional communities in the severely flood-affected areas of central and northern New South Wales and southern Queensland. The Fund was in addition to Federal assistance under the Natural Disaster Relief Arrangements.

Local Government Authorities, Aboriginal communities and incorporated, not-for-profit community service organisations, groups and clubs were eligible to apply for grants for clean-up of public and community facilities, the provision of community services to meet the demand created by the floods and for community facilities reinstatement and reconstruction.

Access to the fund was extended to the communities that were severely flooded between January and March 2001.

Commonwealth Flood Assistance Package Business Grants

In November 2000, the Commonwealth Government announced grants of up to $10 000 to reimburse for the cost of cleaning up small and medium businesses inundated by flood waters in the November floods in central and northern New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Eligible costs for reimbursement include cleaning, hiring cleaning equipment, replacing floor coverings, restocking and repairing fixtures and fittings.

Access to the grants was extended to businesses in the communities that were severely flooded between January and March 2001 on the New South Wales north coast.

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