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APPENDIX E-Report on ecologically sustainable development

This appendix reports on how we implemented the principles for ecologically sustainable development (ESD) set out in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). As required by section 516A of the Act, it explains:

  • how our activities accord with the five principles of ESD identified in the Act
  • how we administer legislation in accordance with ESD principles
  • how the outcomes we work towards, and are appropriated resources against, contribute to ESD
  • how our activities affect the environment and how we minimise harm to it
  • how we review and increase the effectiveness of measures to minimise harm.

How our Activities accord with ESD Principles

Examples of how our activities accord with ESD principles can be found throughout this report, starting with the first chapter (see 'Environmental performance', page 15). Further examples of how the department implemented the five ESD principles in 2005-06 follow.

The integration principle

To integrate environmental, social, economic and equity considerations into decision making, the department:

  • used government funding for a further 55 projects to help targeted regions deal with major economic, environmental and social changes through the Sustainable Regions Programme (page 137).
  • on behalf of the government, established an environmental trust fund in honour of Norfolk Island's late Deputy Chief Minister (page 147).

The precautionary principle

Lack of scientific certainty is not used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. For example, stringent emission standards were introduced for diesel cars, 4WDs and light commercials from 1 January 2006.

The intergenerational principle

To support conservation of the environment for the benefit of future generations, the department, in 2005-06:

  • made information on greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions of new cars available on its upgraded website (www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au), which received more than 180,000 visits
  • developed guidelines on the environmental criteria which apply to diesel road vehicles seeking access to the fuel tax credit which were approved by the minister in May 2006
  • established a formal heritage strategy to articulate how it protects the heritage assets it administers.

The biodiversity principle

The department takes into account biodiversity and ecological integrity issues in its policy work For example the department was a partner in the development of the National Maritime Emergency Response Arrangement to assist in protecting the marine environment from the consequences of severe pollution in the event of a maritime accident (page 88).

The valuation principle

The department continues to improve its valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms to ensure the true cost of activities-environmental, social and economic-is recognised.

How we administer Legislation in accordance with ESD Principles

Certain officers exercise decision-making powers and advise our ministers on the exercise of their powers under portfolio legislation and on other matters. The matters dealt with by the department and the Acts administered by the minister are set out in the Administrative Arrangements Order (AAO) for the Commonwealth of Australia. More than 20 Acts administered by the minister reflect ESD issues.

The main Acts relate to:

  • noise and emissions from aircraft and damage caused by aircraft (six Acts) and regulation of leased airports, including environmental protection (one Act)
  • protection of the sea and the marine environment (10 Acts)
  • motor vehicle safety, emission and anti-theft standards (one Act) and road transport charges (two Acts).

For a complete and up-to-date copy of the AAO, visit www.pmc.gov.au or www.comlaw.gov.au and search for AAO.

How our outcomes contribute to ESD

ESD is integral to our two outcomes: transport and regional services.

On behalf of the government, the department seeks to foster transport systems which are sustainable and efficient, as well as competitive, safe and secure. For more information on how we achieved this in 2005-06, see Chapter 3 (page 29).

In assisting regions to manage their own futures, particular emphasis is placed by the government on sustainable development, local development practices and natural disaster risks. For more information on how we achieved this in 2005-06 see Chapter 4 (page 124).

Additionally, the work of the Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics (BTRE) contributes to ESD through publications such as Greenhouse gas emissions from Australian transport: base case projections to 2020 which was released in August 2005.

How our activities affect the environment and how we minimise harm

While many of the department's activities have a positive impact on the environment, as highlighted in Chapter 1 and above, its day-to-day operations use resources such as electricity, water, petrol and paper. Waste is also created in various forms.

No breaches of environmental laws or licences by the department were reported during 2005-06. As at the date of preparation of the annual report, electricity consumption data for 2005-06 was not available. However, data for previous years is presented in the following figure.

Figure E.1 Trends in departmental electricity consumption

Figure E.1 Trends in departmental electricity consumption

Reducing environmental impacts

The first step in reducing the environmental impacts of the department's activities is to understand what our significant issues are and how these can be best addressed. To that end, the department commissioned an initial environmental review of its office-based activities. As a consequence of the review, the department will in the 2006-07 period implement actions to achieve the following objectives:

  • establish and implement environmentally responsible purchasing guidelines and procedures
  • reduce waste production
  • decrease water consumption
  • maintain energy efficient systems and reduce energy consumption
  • increase staff awareness and encourage the use of environmentally friendly and fuel efficient vehicles to reduce total CO2 emissions.
  • create greater environmental awareness among staff.

During 2005-06, the department took steps towards achieving some of these objectives, including:

  • developing purchasing guidelines that reference green office procurement principles
  • making paper recycling bins available in every work area
  • having all departmental staff take personal responsibility for the disposal of waste generated in the office.

These actions encourage paper recycling and reinforce the department's environmental commitment.

The department also began to develop its EMS intranet and internet sites. These sites will display our environmental policy for everyone to read. The planning and documentation of the department's EMS is nearly complete and meets the requirements of the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems-ISO 14001:2004. The EMS will be implemented in 2006-07. This will be an exciting time as the department makes measurable headway in achieving its environmental objectives.

When reconfiguring the national office in 2005-06, the department decided to reuse furniture, screens and other materials whenever possible. It took the same environmentally responsible approach to fit-outs in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

How we review and increase the effectiveness of environmantal measures

The department is a contributor to a detailed annual report on energy use in Australian Government operations published by the Australian Greenhouse Office which can be found at www.greenhouse.gov.au. As at the date of preparation of the annual report, energy consumption data for the department for 2005-06 was not available. However, data for previous years appears in Table E.1.

The department also contributes to an annual report on the government's implementation of National Environment Protection Measures, in accordance with the National Environment Protection Measures (Implementation) Act 1998.

The secretary's endorsement of the department's environmental policy in May 2006 was a significant milestone for our environmental management practices. The policy mandates the ongoing development of environmental programmes, in particular the implementation, maintenance and improvement of our Environmental Management System (EMS). It explicitly states that the department will implement measures to prevent pollution and comply with relevant legal and other environmental requirements. It also concentrates our efforts and resources into improving our environmental performance in purchasing practices, waste production, water consumption, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.

Table E.1 Trends in departmental energy consumption





Buildings and electricity

Office buildings

Area occupied

24,840 m2

29,159 m2

25,864 m2

28,235 m2






Area per person

24.0 m2/

25.9 m2/

23.2 m2/

21.3 m2/

Electricity used

10,110 GJ

10,785 GJ

11,041 GJ

12,259 GJ

Electricity used per personb

9,749 MJ/

9,561 MJ/

9,911 MJ/


Electricity used by area

407 MJ/m2

370 MJ/m2

427 MJ/m2

434 MJ/m2

Electricity sourced from renewable sources

not reported

not reported

not reported


Other buildings

Area occupied

1,306 m2

1,306 m2

1,306 m2

1,306 m2

Electricity used

97 GJ

101 GJ

91 GJ

118 GJ

Electricity used by area

74.3 MJ/m2

77.7 MJ/m2

69.7 MJ/m2

90 MJ/m2


Passenger vehicles

Total petrol used

100,159 L

122,828 L

135,269 L

124,425 L

Average fuel economy/ 100km

10.4 L

10.3 L

8.8 L

11.1 L

Total fuel used

3,425 GJ

4,201 GJ

4,657 GJ

4,267 GJ

Vehicle fleet compliance with green vehicle guide





Other transport

Total automotive diesel used

3,963 L

4,233 L

0 L

0 L

Total petrol used

0 L

2,656 L

0 L

0 L

Total fuel used

153 GJ

254 GJ

0 GJ

0 GJ

Total of the above

Direct energy consumed

13,785 GJ

15,342 GJ

15,789 GJ

16,644 GJ

Greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 tonnes)

not reported

not reported

not reported


GJ = gigajoules L = litres MJ = megajoules
a Occupants may include contractors and employees of contracted service providers as well as staff.
b The Australian Government's energy consumption target is no more than 10,000MJ per person per year.
c Transport statistics include senior executive and other departmental vehicles, but do not include vehicles that staff receive in lieu of remuneration under salary packaging.