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Appendix 6 : Environmental performance reporting

This section reports on the incorporation of the principles of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) into the wide range of policies and programmes administered by the department.

The department's programmes and policies focus on national transport and logistics systems and regional services and development.

Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) is supported in the department's two outcomes:

  • A better transport system for Australia
    The department works collaboratively with state and territory governments to improve ecological awareness in the transport system.

  • Greater recognition and development opportunities for local, regional and territory communities
    The department works with local, regional and territory communities to achieve positive economic, environmental and social outcomes for all Australians.

Principle A: Decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations
Activity by division Effect of this activity on the environment

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
The ATSB supports the National Road Safety Strategy through road safety research, data collection and statistical analysis.


One of the objectives of the National Road Safety Strategy is to encourage alternatives to motor vehicle use, with the aim of reducing exposure to road trauma, as well as achieving environmental and other benefits.

Aviation and Airports
Exploring policy options for developing and implementing an appropriate land use planning regime to achieve the government's objectives. This approach includes developing policy options for attaining compatible land use around smaller and regional airports.


This approach is intended to lead to communities being exposed to lower aircraft noise levels and reduce restrictions on airport operations. This ensures long-term compatibility between economic imperatives (the need for airports) and environmental/health/social downsides (primarily aircraft noise).

Economic Research and Portfolio Policy
A core focus of work in the following areas relates to consideration in practical policy terms of the balance between and achievement of environmental, social and economic goals:

  • greenhouse policy
  • approaches to sustainable transport through the National Transport Secretariat
  • transport and regional research relevant to economic and environmental policy formation
  • natural resources and environmental policy development and advice
  • contributions to the National Water Initiative and Productivity Commission Inquiry into the impacts of native vegetation and bio-diversity conservation regulation
  • input to the Prime Minister's Energy Taskforce
  • contributions to the government's Climate Change Forward Strategy and National Greenhouse Strategy.


These activities result in better incorporation and consideration of ESD objectives and principles in policy development and subsequent decision making by governments.

Regional Programmes
Ongoing administration and funding of the Sustainable Regions Programme.


The aims of the programme include assisting eight regions across Australia to undergo major economic, social and environmental change to build a viable foundation for the future. The Australian Government assists locally-based advisory committees established under the programme to, for example:

  • formulate and test future development options for regions
  • identify and support specific activities to promote sustainable development
  • support community leadership in the development of local solutions
  • foster new ideas, community energy, drive and self-reliance
  • forge partnerships between the private sector and all three spheres of government.

A number of Sustainable Regions Advisory Committees have identified ESD issues as regional priorities.

Territories and Local Government
In December 2002, the department established the Jervis Bay Territory Public Health and Environment Working Group.


The Jervis Bay Territory Public Health and Environment Working Group brings together relevant government agencies and stakeholders in the territory to discuss, liaise, coordinate, and advise on issues of public health and environment within the territory.

The advice enables decision-makers to consider community, stakeholder, and expert views on environmental and public health issues therefore integrating key aspects of ESD.

Regional Flood Mitigation Programme Partnership Agreements with the states and territories.

Under the Regional Flood Mitigation Programme Partnership Agreements with the states and territories, the state/territory assessment committees assess and prioritise flood mitigation project applications. Project applications are required to describe economic, social and environmental objectives and these are taken into account in the assessment process.

The programme recognises the fundamental importance of Australia's floodplains to the commercial, social and ecological wellbeing of the nation. Responsible and sustainable floodplain management aims to reduce the current flood damage bill and limit where possible future damage, while continuing to manage and enhance the social, economic and environmental values of floodplains.

The department is seeking proposals for the construction of new electricity and supply infrastructure for Home Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Proponents have been asked to allow for renewable energy to be integrated with the main source of energy in the future. This will give Home Island the capability to supplement and reduce the use of fossil fuels.

The department is responsible for obtaining land and constructing housing and infrastructure associated with the Immigration Reception and Processing Centre on Christmas Island.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage granted exemptions under section 158 and 303A of the EPBC Act to proceed without the usual environmental impact assessment on the grounds that it is in the national interest to do so. Despite the EPBC Act exemption, processes were put in place to ensure the developments are carried out in a manner reflecting best practice environmental management. A number of measures were used to minimise negative environmental impacts. These included ensuring the submission of Environmental Management Plans by contractors and the appointment of an officer to provide environmental advice and oversight of the project.

Kingston and Arthur's Vale Heritage Area (KAVHA) Norfolk Island: For the financial year 2002-03 the Commonwealth contributed $520 000 to the KAVHA Norfolk Island Trust Fund, which is administered by the Norfolk Island Government. This contribution is allocated from the department's operational budget and is dispensed in accordance with cyclical and non-cyclical works programmes that are underpinned by a cost-sharing formula specified in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth and the Norfolk Island Government. The functions and objectives of the KAVHA Board relate to all ESD considerations.

KAVHA Board plans and strategies attempt to integrate objectives related to the national heritage values of the site and its significance to the Norfolk Island community as a place of residence, work, recreation, worship and government.

The Commonwealth Norfolk Island joint land initiative: In 2002-03 the following land bills were assented to by the Governor-General:

  • Planning Act 2002
  • Norfolk Island Planning and Environment Board Act 2002
  • Subdivision Act 2002
  • Heritage Act 2002
  • Roads Act 2002
  • Land Titles Act
  • Subdivision (Moratorium) Act 2003.

The Commonwealth Norfolk Island joint land initiative continued to progress a number of prerequisites that will result in a more robust land management regime for Norfolk Island prior to the transfer of selected Crown land to existing lessees. As part of the prerequisites, plans of management have now been prepared for all Crown reserves on Norfolk Island.

Transport and Infrastructure Policy
AusLink Green Paper.


AusLink is a national transport plan to integrate Australia's road and rail systems. It is designed to encourage, amongst other things, better planning, more responsible growth, more innovative solutions to infrastructure needs and continuous improvement.

Secretariat services for the Australian Bicycle Council.

Provision of secretariat services for the Australian Bicycle Council, established to coordinate implementation of the Australia Cycling National Cycling Strategy, 1999-2004. Australia Cycling has a vision of increased cycling for transport and recreation to enhance the well being of all Australians. Its goal is to double bicycle use by 2004. This will contribute to growth and improvements in transport, urban development, public health and the environment. In the 2002-03 financial year, the department provided sponsorship for the Connecting Cycling Conference to be held in November 2003 in Canberra and for a small amount of funding to enable completion of the Stage 1 Cycling Data and Indicators report.

The department supported the Australian Logistics Council in implementing the Australian Logistics Industry Strategy (previously known as the Freight Transport Logistics Industry Action Agenda).

The strategy, endorsed in March 2002 by the transport and logistics industry and in July 2002 by Cabinet, recommends actions that may impact on the environment and sustainability of the freight logistics sector, including:

  • Action 17: the freight logistics industry and governments review solutions-including those identified under the National Strategy for Intelligent Transport Systems (e-transport)-for increasing efficiency and reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions associated with freight movements, and implement strategies to promote awareness and support take-up.
  • Action 18: the freight logistics industry, users of logistics services and government agencies to undertake a full life-cycle assessment of several representative freight logistic chains to examine opportunities for applying the principles of reverse logistics to achieve improved environmental outcomes.
  • Action 19: the freight logistics industry, users of logistics services and government agencies to establish an awareness program of the technologies available to eliminate packaging waste from freight logistics chains.
  • Action 20: The freight logistics industry, in conjunction with government agencies, aim to develop and implement a national freight logistics accreditation scheme that encourages Australian firms to adopt the Australian Standard/New Zealand Standard(AS/NZS) International Standards Organisation (ISO) 14000 series and improve environmental management within the freight logistics industry. The Australian Logistics Council endorsed a resolution recommending to all involved in the transport and logistics business that they examine the use of the ISO 14001 standard and endeavour to adopt this standard as part of their on-going business.

Transport Programmes
The National Highway and Roads of National Importance programmes provide funding to state and territory governments for construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of Australian roads.


The Commonwealth seeks to minimise environmental degradation associated with the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of roads. Funding provided for projects is dependent on states and territories receiving appropriate environmental approvals under the EPBC Act and complying with any environmental conditions relating to those approvals.

The Commonwealth is providing up to $191.4 million for construction of the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway.

It is anticipated that this will prevent unnecessary environmental degradation resulting from construction of the railway. An Environmental Management Plan (EMP) was developed for the projects in 1997. The Commonwealth has agreements in place to ensure project proponents comply with requirements of the EMP and recommendations the Minister for the Environment made regarding the project.

Transport Regulation
The department's airport environment strategies provide the basis for airport lessees to manage the environmental impacts of their operations. The department and its airport environment officers work with airport operators and airport tenants to ensure a high level of compliance with the Airports Act 1996 & Airports (Environment Protection) Regulations 1997.

Airport environment officers monitor groundwater and stormwater quality. They also regulate on-airport noise and monitor any impact on local residents and on-site tenants.

Regulate the operation of aircraft that do not meet noise standards specified in Annex 16 of the International Civil Aviation Organization.


Airport Environment Strategies encompass measures to prevent or minimise at the leased Federal airports:

  • Environmental pollution at airport sites
  • Impact on biota or habitat
  • Interference with sites of heritage value or sites of significance to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander People.

Groundwater monitoring is an important benefit to the community, as groundwater flowing through the airport site is in some cases used for stock and irrigation off-site.

The department has restricted the operation of non-compliant aircraft only to those that are solely in the public interest and aircraft of historical significance. The later may only be operated at airshows, and for adventure type flight operations, where there is evidence of community support. The implementation of the new policy regarding historical aircraft put an end to the operation of adventure flights over the Blue Mountains World Heritage Conservation Area.



Principle B: If there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation (ie. the 'precautionary principle').
Activity by division Effect of this activity on the environment

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
Conducts safety investigations and research.


The purpose of safety investigations and research is to reduce accidents and incidents that adversely impact on people and the environment.

Economic Research and Portfolio Policy
Development of the First National Strategy and Action Plan to Address Emissions from Urban Transport which was agreed by the Australian Transport Council (ATC) in August 2002.


It is widely accepted that the implementation of vehicle emission standards has made a significant contribution to reductions in air pollution in Australia's major cities. Noise standards have also reduced the level of traffic noise. The fuel consumption labelling standard is relatively new, but is anticipated to lead to reductions in fuel consumption from the new vehicle fleet.

2002-03 Vehicle Emissions and Fuel Standards Review.

The department is responsible for developing the Australian Design Rules (ADR) for vehicle emissions, vehicle noise and fuel consumption labelling. The objective of these measures is to minimise adverse impacts of motor vehicles on the environment in terms of urban air quality, noise disturbance and greenhouse gas emissions.

Territories and Local Government
Review of water supply and sewerage services in Jervis Bay Territory.


In 2002, the department initiated a review of water supply and sewerage services in Jervis Bay Territory. This review will provide guidance on a cohesive management strategy for the provision of these services, including measurable performance targets, in order to meet long-term management, development and environment protection needs of the Jervis Bay Territory.

Regional Flood Mitigation Programme Partnership Agreements with the states and territories.

Projects which identify community safety as the primary goal may opt for the introduction of mitigation measures which have an adverse impact on floodplain and riparian (pertaining to the bank of a river or other body of water) environmental values.

The department has begun to seek proposals for the operational and financial management of various business units in the Indian Ocean Territories by requesting proposals for the management of the airports in both territories.

Potential managers operate with due regard to the principles of ESD including through the development of Environmental Management Plans and Annual Environment Reports.

The department has prepared environmental assessment documentation for the proposed airport upgrade, additional port facility and upgrading of Linkwater Road on Christmas Island.

Preparation of the environmental assessment documentation will ensure that these projects are environmentally appropriate and that environmental impacts will be minimised. The Minister for Environment and Heritage subsequently approved these documents subject to conditions.

Commonwealth programmes in the Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) Norfolk Island.

The Commonwealth's involvement in KAVHA is for the conservation and enhancement of heritage values within the site. These are administered primarily through annual works programmes.

Transport Regulation
The development of legislation to implement regulations for the 'Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Ships' (Annex IV of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973/78 (MARPOL 73/78).


A precautionary principle is applied to enable government to take action to prevent pollution based on grounds of concern that pollution to marine environment could occur.

The department is the Chair of the Shipping Management Group which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the 41 recommendations contained in the Review of Great Barrier Reef Ship Safety and Pollution Prevention Measures. As part of this process, the department facilitated a submission to the International Maritime Organization to designate the Torres Strait region as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA)

Designating PSSA status to the Torres Strait region will help address the area's vulnerability to damage through shipping activities, increase marine safety and heighten awareness of the ecologically sensitive nature of the region.

The implementation of the 41 recommendations, in particular, the development of a Shipping Management Plan and Shipping Impact Study, will assist in improving the marine environment and ship safety of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait.



Principle C: The principle of inter-generational equity-that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.
Activity by division Effect of this activity on the environment

Aviation and Airports
Developing policy options for attaining compatible land use around smaller and regional airports.


Exploring policy options for developing and implementing an appropriate land use planning regime to achieve the government's objectives. This ensures long-term compatibility between economic imperatives (the need for airports) and environmental/health/social downsides (primarily aircraft noise).

Developing ways to describe aircraft noise that are easily understandable by the non-expert.

The type of information produced allows, for example, noise sensitive persons to be aware of aircraft noise exposure before they consider whether to buy a house near a flight path. This approach is aimed at reducing tensions between airports and their surrounding communities, which can result from communication breakdowns over reporting of what constitutes aircraft noise. This ensures ongoing compatibility between economic imperatives (the need for airports) and the environmental/health/social downsides of aircraft noise.

Economic Research and Portfolio Policy
Development and application of Australia's Oceans Policy.


The department contributes towards whole of government policy and process for ecologically sustainable development in Australia's marine jurisdiction.

Development of the Green Vehicles Guide.

The development of the Green Vehicles Guide, which aims to inform consumers of the environmental performance of new vehicle models in terms of urban air pollution and greenhouse gas impact, will enable new vehicle consumers to factor environmental considerations into their purchasing decisions and choose more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Regional Policy
The department works in cooperation with Environment Australia and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry-Australia on programmes such as the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality and the extension of the Natural Heritage Trust.


The department, in co-operation with other government departments, facilitates the use of natural resources without compromising the vital facilities and services the environment provides.

Regional Programmes
Locally based advisory committees.


Locally based advisory committees reduce negative impacts on the environment through an increased awareness of these issues. Advisory committees assist in identifying and supporting specific activities to promote sustainable development. A number of projects have been funded that address local environmental priorities. A mandatory funding requirement is that all proposals must comply with relevant planning and environment laws. To measure effectiveness of outputs and outcomes of the programme, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems is developing an evaluation framework using performance measures and Regional Profiles produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for each region.

Territories and Local Government
The department commenced the installation of underground electrical cables running through the Booderee National Park.


This action will decrease erosion occurring in the vicinity of the existing cables, allow revegetation of the existing scar and reduce risk of fire danger caused by degradation of cables exposed to the elements. All projects are required to meet state and Commonwealth environmental, heritage and planning legislation.

Commonwealth involvement in the Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area (KAVHA) Norfolk Island.

Cyclical works programmes operate on three-year and five-year bases. Non-cyclical programmes include stabilisation work to prevent further deterioration of a structure or the landscape.

The department has begun to seek proposals for the operational and financial management of various business units in the Indian Ocean Territories by requesting proposals for the management of the airports in both territories.

Potential managers are to operate with due regard to the principles of ESD including through the development of Environmental Management Plans and Annual Environment Reports.

Transport Regulation
The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships was tabled in both Houses of Parliament and considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties as a prelude to Australian accession to the Convention and the development of implementing legislation.


Implementation of the Convention will prohibit the use on ships of anti-fouling systems which have an adverse effect on marine organisms.

Airport leases will be operated on a 49 year plus 50 year basis and allow for the preservation of heritage values and principles and the sustainable management of the environment.

Airport operators must consider the long term planning aspects of the airport against the heritage and environment qualities of the airport land.



Principle D: The conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making.
Activity by division Effect of this activity on the environment

Transport Regulation
The department has provided input into the activities of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Transportation Working Group.


These activities ensure that Australia's economic and social well being is recognised alongside the need for environmentally responsible, safe and cost effective maritime transport.



Principle E: Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted
Activity by division Effect of this activity on the environment

Territories and Local Government

Planned charges for water use on Christmas Island.

The department, through its service provider, is phasing in charges for all water use on Christmas Island in line with current practises in Western Australia and with the ESD principle of externalising costs of natural resources.

Licences issued for facilities to operate in the Indian Ocean Territories under the Environment Protection Act 1986 (WA)(CI)(CKI).

The department's contracted Island Environment Officer, has issued licences for facilities to operate in the Indian Ocean Territories under the Environment Protection Act 1986 (WA)(CI)(CKI). These licences impose conditions of operation on the facilities that remove or decrease environmental impacts of their operations.

The department works closely with Environment Australia (EA) to ensure environmental considerations under the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity & Conservation Act 1999 are preserved.

EA accredits the environmental processes under the Airports Act 1996.

Additional departmental activity fostering environmental awareness

In its own office based activities the department has agreed, through its Certified Agreement, to develop and promote initiatives that result in reductions in energy usage, waste generation and the cost of consumables. These initiatives will form the basis of a Departmental Energy Plan.

The department runs a successful paper recycling programme and energy conservation programme. Staff are encouraged to participate in these programmes through electronic bulletins on the department's intranet.

Building management systems apply to lighting and air conditioning and daytime cleaning obviates the need for additional lighting at night.

These systems are revised and fine-tuned regularly to achieve maximum results.

The department, through a survey, participated in the ANAO audit on Commonwealth ESD and environmental performance reporting. The ANAO report can be found at http://www.anao.gov.au/

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