Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2010
The department achieved significant and very tangible outcomes in 2009-10, from the creation of more than 2,750 jobs in the heritage component of the Nation Building and Jobs Plan to the purchase of 863 gigalitres of water entitlements in the Murray-Darling Basin, with 165 gigalitres for environmental watering. In the arts sector we saw the passage of the resale royalty legislation and the implementation of Artstart; and we made a major contribution to the government's Closing the Gap targets for Indigenous Australians both through the delivery of arts initiatives and in the natural environment through the Working on Country program and protected area management.
The energy efficiency programs, for which the department had responsibility until March 2010, saw more than one million Australian homes insulated, and resulted in a complete overhaul of the insulation industry to improve training, compliance, health and safety, and quality assurance of products.
These programs also stress-tested the agency, identifying areas that needed to change. Guided by the deputy secretaries, the department commissioned a series of independent external reviews to examine where and how our practices could improve to achieve outcome six of the department's 2009-10 Strategic Plan: that of organisational effectiveness.
By mid-2010 a dedicated change management taskforce had embarked on an ongoing program of practical reforms to improve governance, program management, business platforms and systems. We have actively used the Strategic Plan to guide reforms in our financial management, the acquisition and management of information and corporate services; aiming to reduce red tape and drive efficiencies.
The department has a significant and high impact reform agenda, which we continue vigorously to pursue. During 2010 - the International Year of Biodiversity - the department continued to develop material to inform the government's response to the review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) working towards a streamlined and more holistic approach to biodiversity conservation, and developed Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. We implemented Australia's first National Waste Policy, paving the way for groundbreaking product stewardship initiatives; and commenced construction of a National Water Market system. These are just a few high profile achievements I am pleased to report for 2009-10.
Outcome 1 - Conserving our natural assets
Caring for our Country
Under the $200 million Caring for our Country Reef Rescue program, nearly 1,400 land managers have received funding since 2008 to deliver water quality improvements for the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon.
The Environmental Stewardship Box Gum Grassy Woodland Project contracted 69 additional land managers, increasing the conservation effort to include more than 26,400 hectares of nationally endangered woodlands on private land.
The Working on Country Indigenous ranger program contracted over 590 rangers to manage the natural and cultural values of the Indigenous estate.
Marine policy and planning
A proposal in the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which would have legitimised whaling in the Southern Ocean, was defeated at the IWC annual meeting in June 2010. The Australian Government initiated legal action in the International Court of Justice against Japan's so-called 'scientific' whaling in the Southern Ocean.
A six-week Australian-New Zealand Antarctic Whale Expedition was undertaken in February and March 2010. The non-lethal research voyage was the first multilateral project undertaken as part of the Australian-initiated $14 million Southern Ocean Research Partnership.
Under the marine bioregional planning program, the first step in identifying marine reserves - identification of Areas for Further Assessment - was released for consultation in the South-west, North, North-west and East marine regions.
The updated Reef Water Quality Protection Plan was signed on behalf of the Queensland and Australian Governments by the Hon Anna Bligh MP, Premier of Queensland and the Hon Peter Garrett AM MP, the Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts, in September 2009.
Bush Blitz, which aims to provide a national snapshot of the biodiversity of the National Reserve System, was launched in February. Bush Blitz is a partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton, Earthwatch Institute Australia and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network. The launch was the official start to Australia's celebration of the International Year of Biodiversity.
Twenty-seven new parks and reserves were purchased for the National Reserve System, with help from $35.8 million through Caring for our Country. This protects a diverse range of habitats covering more than 1.1 million hectares.
The Djelk and Warddeken Indigenous Protected Areas in Arnhem Land were declared, creating a huge conservation corridor stretching from Kakadu's stone country to the Arafura Sea. Together these protected areas cover over two million hectares and are the culmination of years of work undertaken by the traditional owners and their representative Indigenous organisations. The Warddeken Indigenous Protected area is globally significant for its natural and cultural values and contains dozens of endemic plants and thousands of individual occupation and rock art sites, some of which record Aboriginal people's first contact with Europeans. The Djelk Indigenous Protected Area includes coastal and sub-coastal landscapes including islands, estuaries, rivers and internationally renowned wetlands, monsoon rainforests and tropical savannas.
Environmental regulation and compliance
The department continued to assess large, complex and economically significant projects under the EPBC Act. This year 66 proposals were approved under the Act including high profile projects like the Gorgon gas development off the north-west coast of Western Australia and the Northern Victoria Irrigation Renewal Project. Three projects were rejected by the minister during 2009-10 including the proposed construction of the Traveston Crossing Dam on the Mary River in South-east Queensland.
In February 2010 the minister endorsed the Victorian Government's program for the expansion of Melbourne's urban growth boundary, the first endorsement under the strategic assessment provisions of the EPBC Act. This is a groundbreaking new approach to Australian environmental impact assessment which points the way to more collaborative, streamlined and certain methodologies in the future. As well as providing certainty for developers and the community, the program will create a 15,000 hectare reserve for the protection of critically endangered grasslands, another 1,200 hectares of grassy woodland reserves, with other matters protected through the application of prescriptions that specify how nationally listed threatened species will be conserved in new urban developments.
Outcome 2 - Living and working sustainably
On 5 November 2009 the Environment Protection and Heritage Council agreed to the National Waste Policy: Less Waste, More Resources. This landmark policy sets the national agenda on waste and resource management to 2020. It includes the establishment of new national product stewardship legislation by the Australian Government to underpin schemes for reducing the environmental, health and safety footprint of manufactured goods and materials.
In the 2009 calendar year, Australian imports of ozone-depleting substances controlled under the Montreal Protocol totalled 104 tonnes of ozone-depleting potential (ODP) equivalents. This result is 74 per cent better than the target of 393.6 ODP tonnes that Australia is obliged to meet as a party to the Montreal Protocol.
On 31 March 2010 the National Pollutant Inventory annual report published emissions data for 4,214 facilities. Of the 87 substances reported, 54 had emission levels lower than the previous year.
Outcome 3 - Protecting Antarctica
In 2009-10 a total of 119 science projects were conducted within the Australian Antarctic program. The major field research projects undertaken included: ice drilling through the Amery Ice Shelf; retrieval of a 120 metre ice core from Mill Island; the second year of ICECAP (Investigating the Cryospheric Evolution of the Central Antarctic Plate); a geophysical aerial survey of the ice sheet near Casey station; marine research on impacts of fishing gear; research associated with an environmental assessment of sewage treatment at Davis Station; and a major whale research program.
Outcome 4 - Adapting to a future with less water
Major advances were made in preparing for the impacts of climate change by putting Australia's water use onto a sustainable footing through Commonwealth water purchasing and environmental water release, upgrading water infrastructure and water reuse systems in rural, regional and urban areas, and reforming the water market to facilitate trade and pricing that reflects the scarcity of the resource.
The Commonwealth water purchasing program to 30 June 2010 secured the purchase of 863 gigalitres of entitlements that over the long term will provide, on average, 591 gigalitres for the environment every year. Once the Commonwealth's ownership of these entitlements is formally recognised on the state water registers they become part of the Commonwealth's water holdings, which are managed by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
In 2009-10, 165 gigalitres of Commonwealth environmental water was committed for use in 29 rivers, wetlands and floodplains in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. This brings to 178 gigalitres, the total volume of water so far made available to rivers, wetlands and floodplains of the Murray-Darling Basin as a result of the Water for the Future initiative. While the results of environmental watering will take some time to emerge, early monitoring shows improvements to trees and aquatic plant life as well as animal species.
Work continued to address the ecological stresses on the Coorong and Lower Lakes Ramsar wetland complex in South Australia in cooperation with state agencies and the lakes community, including completion of pipelines delivering irrigation and potable water and seeding as part of bioremediation for the lake beds.
Significant progress was made in developing a smoothly-functioning water market through the introduction of Water Market rules under the Water Act 2007, which gives enhanced business flexibility to water users.
The roll-out of rural water infrastructure to improve water efficiency both on- and off-farm stepped up, with successful first round projects announced for the On-Farm Irrigation Efficiency program and the New South Wales Private Irrigator Infrastructure Operators program.
This comprehensive program of work is being underpinned by the best available science which included the completion and release during the year of three sustainable yields reports, on northern Australia, Tasmania and south-west Western Australia.
Outcome 5 - Protecting and enhancing Australia's culture and heritage
Arts, Culture and the National Portrait Gallery
Australia acceded to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on 18 September 2009 and the convention entered into force in Australia on 18 December 2009. Australia's accession to the convention will help to develop and maintain the cultural sector and protect valuable cultural expressions in Australia and abroad.
Collecting institutions were able to develop exhibitions and tour their collections nationally, with a particular focus on touring to regional Australia, through the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach program, which provided funding support of $1 million in 2009-10.
Support was provided for the employment of more than 560 Indigenous people in the arts and culture sector, as part of Closing the Gap in employment outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
The Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Act 2009 was passed by the Australian Parliament in November 2009 and received Royal Assent on 9 December 2009. The Act establishes the resale royalty scheme, under which visual artists and their heirs are entitled to receive five per cent of the sale price when their artworks are commercially resold for $1,000 or more. The scheme commenced on 9 June 2010.
In 2009-10 the National Arts and Disability Strategy was released. The strategy sets out the minister's vision for supporting, encouraging and promoting access and participation in arts and cultural activities by people with disabilities.
On 25 March 2010 the new National Portrait Gallery recorded its one millionth visitor, 15 months after opening to the public on 4 December 2008. The National Portrait Gallery building was the recipient of prestigious architectural awards including the Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Best Public Building.
Under the Heritage Projects (Jobs Fund) component of the economic stimulus package, 191 projects totalling $58 million were administered to support heritage projects that protect, conserve and promote Australia's heritage assets while providing immediate and ongoing employment and economic benefits through the creation of more than 2,750 jobs around Australia.
Seven places were added to the National Heritage List: Great Artesian Basin Springs: Witjira-Dalhousie; Great Artesian Basin Springs: Elizabeth; Porongurup National Park; Cheetup Rock Shelter; Ningaloo Coast; Cascades Female Factory Yard 4 North; and the Tarkine as an emergency listing. At 30 June 2010 there were 89 places on the National Heritage List.
In January 2010, the Australian Government submitted a World Heritage nomination for an area of over 700,000 hectares on the Ningaloo Coast, Western Australia. The nomination recognises the outstanding biological and geological heritage of the region and will be assessed by UNESCO for a decision in mid-2011.
Corporate Outcome - Improving organisational effectiveness
The year saw the implementation of the department's new outcome structure which was aimed at better aligning our work with government priorities. The Strategic Plan - Directions to 2014 provided the basis for DEWHA's business planning, linking to our key outcomes outlined in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2009-10.
The strategic plan outlined a sixth outcome - organisational effectiveness. As an organisation we should constantly seek ways to refine our strategies, improve our structures and deliver our internal services as efficiently and effectively as possible. In 2009-10 three major reviews were conducted. Two corporate reviews were conducted - one looking at the most sensible corporate arrangements and the other at our financial management and reporting systems. The third review looked at how best to ensure that our information and knowledge management systems provided shared access to information and that our work was evidence based.
The events of the past year have underlined the importance of continuing to embed effective risk management practices into the department's delivery of projects. The department has been highly proactive in its approach to identifying risks at a whole-of-department level. The consolidation of risk, project, procurement and grants management in a new governance branch was a significant reform for the department.
In addition a change management team was established in April 2010; its role is to oversee all change management processes underway in the department. Input from staff workshops and emails, feedback from the directors conference and senior executive round tables and recommendations from two high level reviews, namely the Independent Review into the Green Loans Program and the Review of the Administration of the Home Insulation Program, have helped the department identify its priorities for change.
Robyn Kruk AM
In this section
- Letter of transmittal
- Executive summary
- Outcome 1 - Conserving our natural assets
- Outcome 2 - Living and working sustainably
- Operation of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
- Operation of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989
- Operation of the product stewardship arrangements for oil including the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000
- Operation of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000
- Outcome 3 - Protecting Antarctica
- Outcome 4 - Adapting to a future with less water
- Outcome 5 - Protecting and enhancing Australia's culture and heritage
- Corporate Outcome - Improving organisational effectiveness
- Financial statements
- List of requirements