Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2012
Outcome 5: Strategies
As Australia is a signatory to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention), the department is responsible for developing and advocating for Australian Government policies and projects aimed at improving the operations and integrity of the World Heritage Convention. The department represents Australia at the World Heritage Committee and pursues key initiatives designed to increase the integrity of the World Heritage Convention and, where practical, contributes to improving World Heritage Committee policies and practices. In 2011-12 the department also provided assistance to Pacific Island countries for World Heritage activities through AusAID’s Pacific Public Sector Linkages Program (PPSLP), and the Australian Funds-In-Trust (AFIT).
The AFIT is an Australian Government contribution to a trust fund held by UNESCO and supports a suite of World Heritage activities in the Asia and Pacific region. Examples of Australia’s assistance under the AFIT include: supporting four Pacific Islands World Heritage Workshops; supporting Pacific Islanders to attend heritage training and World Heritage Committee meetings; and providing support to implement projects identified under the Pacific World Heritage Action Plan. The Pacific Heritage Hub is a priority regional action outlined in the Pacific World Heritage Action Plan 2015, adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2009.
The Pacific Heritage Hub aims to strengthen heritage in Pacific Island countries, increase communication networks, coordinate training opportunities and bring together donors and projects in the region.
Under the PPSLP, training activities have been delivered to build capacity towards implementing World Heritage Convention obligations for Pacific Island countries. Opportunities have been sought to provide training in heritage tourism and community governance, including facilitating the participation of Pacific Island countries at the Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference in Darwin during March 2012. Partnerships have been developed with non-government organisations and government counterparts to deliver activities.
In 2011-12 the department continued work on the Kokoda Initiative under the Second Joint Understanding on the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region (2010-15). This bilateral agreement expresses the commitment of the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments to work together to:
- maintain a safe and well-managed Kokoda Track
- enhance the quality of life for landowners and communities
- work towards the conservation of the catchment protection area
- build the tourism potential of the region
- work with all stakeholders to ensure the activities of the Kokoda Initiative are sustainable.
Under the Kokoda Initiative, the department provides funding to the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) to strengthen operational capacity, including supporting an adviser, finance officer, safety project manager, livelihoods officer and a part-time communications officer to work within the KTA. The department also provided the KTA with funding to deliver a livelihoods program focused on income generation for track communities, capitalising on opportunities presented by the trekking industry, and a grant to address track safety risks, including the maintenance of infrastructure.
To support improved land-use planning in the region, the department continued to support Papua New Guinea’s Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to develop mapping systems and databases. Support to DEC includes the deployment of an adviser within the agency and short-term placements of DEC staff in Australia to build capacity.
The department continues to work with the Kokoda Development Program to improve basic service delivery in health and education for track communities, with funding directly provided to this program by AusAID for 2011-12.
World Heritage management
In 2011-12 the department continued to support the protection, conservation and presentation of Australia’s heritage of outstanding universal value in consultation and cooperation with the relevant states.
The Australian Government provided $20 million to the Victorian Government for the protection and promotion of the World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. This funding will be used for a range of important works to help conserve the values of this iconic site, including conservation of the dome and restoration of the exterior facades. The department will monitor the four-year project through agreed progress reporting arrangements.
The department provides secretariat services for the Australian Convict Sites Steering Committee. In 2011-12 the committee met via teleconference twice to discuss matters of relevance to the 11 sites that together form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property. The department also hosted an intern from the Australian National University’s Museums and Collections Program who undertook a project for the committee. The project explored options for a collaborative online presence for the Australian Convict Sites and will form the basis for future work in this area.
Tourism opportunities for the Australian Convict Sites were also investigated in two reports commissioned by the department and received in 2011-12. The Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area (KAVHA, Norfolk Island) Tourism Master Plan provides a broad context for a range of heritage tourism issues and makes 21recommendations for implementation. The master plan was provided to the KAVHA Management Board in May 2012. In addition, the Australian Convict Sites Tourism Linkages Platform identified potential competitive visitor experiences that could be offered as a result of tourism trends and World Heritage listing of the overall Australian Convict Sites property. The report was provided to the Australian Convict Sites Steering Committee in June 2012.
The department, with the New South Wales Government and the Parramatta City Council, explored the implications of World and National Heritage listing in urban areas. In May 2012 there was agreement by officials at all levels of government to commission an assessment of the significant views and settings associated with Parramatta’s heritage sites, including Old Government House and Domain (one of the Australian Convict Sites), with specific reference to future urban development in the city centre.
The Australian Government provided $17 million in 2011-12 from the Caring for our Country initiative to assist the states to manage World Heritage properties to ensure their protection and promotion is consistent with undertakings under the World Heritage Convention. Activities funded include agreed on-ground priority projects and strategic management support projects including community consultation and coordination. Examples include a sum of $4.5 million provided to New South Wales for the eradication of rodents from the World Heritage listed Lord Howe Island Group. This funding, matched by the NSW Environmental Trust, will benefit the remarkable biodiversity of the island and residents. The department will play a role in the management of the project through agreed governance arrangements.Other projects that have been funded include work with neighbouring landholders to improve landscape connectivity in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, and research at Shark Bay into the effects of rising water levels on the Faure Sill and the stromatolite community.
The department provided advice in relation to the review of the Strategic Overview for Management of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, in consultation with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.
National and Commonwealth heritage listings
The minister added the West Kimberley (Western Australia), HMS Sirius Shipwreck (Norfolk Island) and the Jordan River Levee Site (Tasmania) to the National Heritage List, bringing the total number of places on the list to 97.
In 2011-12, 43 post offices across Australia, as well as the Edward Braddon Commonwealth Law Courts in Hobart, the HMS Sirius Shipwreck, and the ABC Regional Radio Studio, Wagin, Western Australia were added to the Commonwealth Heritage List.
Ahead of the centenary of Canberra in early 2013, the Australian Heritage Council is assessing public nominations of Canberra to the National Heritage List. The focus of the assessment is on the national capital as an outcome of federation, the seat of Australian democracy and a showcase of twentieth century town planning concepts. Formal statutory consultations and a broader consultation process commenced in late 2011-12.
National and Commonwealth heritage management
The department liaised with a number of Commonwealth agencies throughout the year on their heritage management obligations under the EPBC Act. Examples include pre-referral advice provided to the Australian National University and the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General in relation to works proposals, the Department of Finance and Deregulation for disposals, and the National Capital Authority on an amendment to the National Capital Plan.
In conjunction with the Australian Heritage Council meeting of 22 March 2012, the department organised a workshop to analyse and evaluate the methodologies for assessing aesthetic heritage values of natural places. The workshop was attended by the members of the council, external experts and departmental staff involved in assessments to the National Heritage List. A final report on the outcomes of the workshop made a number of recommendations for future directions to improve the current methodology.
The department works with other government agencies and the community to protect the cultural heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The work includes providing advice on proposals referred under the EPBC Act; supporting projects to identify, conserve and promote Indigenous heritage; and providing emergency protection to areas and assisting the minister to respond to applications under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (ATSIHP Act).
Under the ATSIHP Act the minister can protect areas and objects of traditional significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from threats of injury or desecration. This ‘last resort’ protection is available only when there is no effective protection under state or territory laws.
In 2011-12 the department supported the minister’s response to 50 separate applications to protect 22 areas and five collections of objects. Of these, 21 were new applications made during the year, similar to last year’s 20 new applications and below the long-term average of approximately 24 new applications per year.
Ten of the applications were not legally valid applications under the Act and another ten were withdrawn by the applicants. Six applications were resolved when the minister declined to make declarations, and 23 applications were under active consideration at the end of 2011-12. An additional application was resolved in 2009 under an agreement that continues to be monitored by the department.
During 2011-12 the department continued to work on possible reforms to the ATSIHP Act. The reforms were proposed in 2009, at which time it was noted that they might be incorporated in the EPBC Act. Subsequently the independent review of that Act recommended that the reforms to the ATSIHP Act should be included in an amended version of the EPBC Act. The Australian Government responded in August 2011, agreeing to consider this option, and electing to consult the Indigenous Advisory Committee as to the effectiveness of consolidating the two Acts. This work commenced in September 2011 and is ongoing.
The Australian Heritage Council
The Australian Heritage Council met six times in 2011-12, two of which were teleconferences. Council member Sharon Sullivan’s term expired during this year and Helen Lardner was appointed as an historic heritage expert.
The council has established closer ties with the Indigenous Advisory Committee, with several members from each body attending parts of the other’s meetings and contributions being made on a number of Indigenous heritage matters. This is consistent with the recommendation of the Hawke Review of the EPBC Act for increased communication between these expert advisory bodies to the minister.
The council recognised the need to improve approaches to Indigenous heritage assessment, protection and engagement and has proposed to hold a workshop on the topic.
Closer relations with the Threatened Species Scientific Committee have also been initiated, with a council member attending a committee meeting. It is expected that these ties will be strengthened in the next financial year. The Council Chair, Professor Carmen Lawrence, attended the Heritage Chairs and Officials meeting in Perth in February 2012.
The council assisted in the development of the Australian Heritage Strategy by holding a workshop with key heritage stakeholders—the outcomes contributing on a range of important issues regarding the conservation, presentation and management of natural, Indigenous and historic heritage.
The council also identified an increasing priority to improve management outcomes for listed places and for the development of a monitoring framework which would enable the council to gauge the effectiveness of management regimes and identify changes in heritage values and condition.
Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand
The Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand (HCOANZ) is a body comprising the chairs and chief executive officers of Australian and New Zealand statutory heritage agencies. The HCOANZ works to address matters of national importance. In 2011-12, the HCOANZ finalised the HCOANZ report on heritage sustainability-domestic building project, as well as national guidelines for heritage ruins.
The Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee
The Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee advises federal and state ministers on national and cross-cutting issues that affect Australia’s World Heritage properties. It is a forum for Australia’s World Heritage property managers to share information on place management and protection.
Iconic Sites Taskforce
The Iconic Sites Taskforce was established for a two-year term to advise the minister on matters relating to the protection and identification of iconic national assets. The taskforce met for the first time in June 2012 to identify opportunities and priorities for Australia’s iconic sites for the minister’s consideration in 2012-13.
Australian Heritage Strategy
The Australian Government is developing a national strategy for the recognition, protection, commemoration and celebration of heritage over the next decade to highlight the importance of heritage to all Australians and provide a common direction for heritage across Australia over the next decade. This high-level strategic framework will bring together the depth and diversity of Australian heritage and cover the three domains of heritage: natural, Indigenous and historic.
The strategy will also respond to key heritage findings of the 2011 state of the environment report, which identified that while our diverse natural and cultural heritage generally remains in good condition, it is being threatened by natural and human processes that do not reflect the true value of heritage to the Australian community.
A public consultation paper for the strategy was released in April 2012 outlining some of the current challenges and opportunities in the heritage sector. The period for public comment closed on 15 June 2012. The consultation paper and commissioned essays remain available for the information of stakeholders and individuals. Ninety-three submissions were received from all levels of government, professional organisations, community groups and individuals. These are published on the Australian Heritage Strategy website www.environment.gov.au/heritage/strategy/index.html.
Heritage grants programs
The department administers a range of grants to provide funding and advice to support heritage protection, conservation and interpretation.
Your Community Heritage program
The May 2011 Budget announced $4 million per year supplementation in 2011-12 and 2012-13 to build on the existing ongoing $4.42 million National Historic Sites program. The two-year Your Community Heritage program is aimed at helping the community tell its heritage stories, enhancing community engagement in heritage, bringing heritage online, protecting national heritage assets, and preservation and understanding of skills at risk of being lost.
In 2011-12, $7.9 million was provided to 235 projects to protect, conserve and enhance the values of significant historic heritage; to enhance the resilience of heritage places to withstand natural disasters such as floods, bushfires, storms and earthquakes; and to contribute to the management and the long-term sustainability of significant historic heritage sites. Around $0.5 million was provided to fund the development of the Community Heritage portal.
The program comprises the following subprograms:
- Protecting National Historic Sites
- Recovering from Natural Disasters
- Commemorating Eminent Australians
- Sharing Community Heritage Stories
- Celebrating Community Heritage
- Bringing Heritage Online.
Indigenous Heritage Program
The department administers the Australian Government’s Indigenous Heritage Program, an ongoing annual competitive grants program that provides $3.645 million annually to identify, conserve and promote the Indigenous heritage values of places important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The program is delivered in cooperation with the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ Indigenous Coordination Centres, as part of the whole-of-government delivery of services to Indigenous Australians.
In 2011-12 the Indigenous Heritage Program provided funding for 45 projects across Australia: three in New South Wales; 10 from the Northern Territory; 13 from Queensland; four each from South Australia and Victoria; and 11 from Western Australia. These projects not only conserve and promote Indigenous heritage but also contribute to Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage.
Recipients include shire councils, land councils, Elders groups, National Trust groups and educational institutions.
Australia’s maritime heritage
The department administers the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 through a cooperative arrangement with the states, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island under the Historic Shipwrecks Program. Under the Act the minister has delegated functions to officers within these states and territories. The department’s role is to coordinate administration nationally and in offshore waters, and to provide annual funding of $0.44 million to the relevant state and territory agencies. The funding is provided through a three-year service-level agreement with forward projected funding until 2014-15.
This cost-effective arrangement supports state and territory agencies that are best placed to enforce the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 in both Commonwealth and coastal waters while promoting a nationally consistent approach to maritime heritage conservation. Among other things the arrangement enables the Australian Government to maintain accurate and up-to-date records of Australia’s historic shipwrecks and their associated relics in the Australian National Shipwreck Database. During 2011-12, 14 shipwrecks off Tasmania, Western Australia and the Northern Territory were located or discovered within the jurisdiction of the Act.
Over the last two years the Australian National Shipwreck Database has been modernised to meet current statutory requirements and future needs. This work was completed in 2011-12. The database now offers online permit applications and a secure web portal for the minister’s delegates to carry out day-to-day administrative functions.
The department also provides funding to the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology for activities that support the aims of the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 by promoting the preservation of underwater cultural heritage, and the application of internationally accepted ethical standards in maritime archaeology. Two grants were provided to the institute in 2011-12: a grant of $15,000 was given to publish the institute’s annual bulletin and to host its annual conference (held in Brisbane in September 2011); and a further $12,000 grant was provided to assist Pacific Islanders to attend the inaugural Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage, held 8-12 November 2011.
The department appoints and trains inspectors under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 and investigates suspected breaches of the Act. In 2011-12 training was undertaken in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Three serious breaches were investigated, resulting in two successful prosecutions. Court proceedings are pending in the third case. Following last year’s successful prosecution for possession of 1433 undeclared historic shipwreck relics, the department removed a further 300 relics from that person in January 2012. The relics were handed to the Western Australian Museum.
The department supports ministerial declarations under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 including by arranging commemorative events where appropriate. Declarations were made on two occasions in 2011-12 (see Case study 2). The department also helped to coordinate the involvement of the United States Embassy in a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin. United States Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich presented a historic shipwreck relic to the new Defence of Darwin Museum. The relic had been taken illegally from the SS Florence D (1942) and recovered by the department following an investigation in 2011.
The department also coordinates the development of national policies and procedures relating to the conservation of shipwrecks and other underwater cultural heritage. In September 2011 the department conducted a national workshop for government heritage officers and heritage consultants. This was the first step in the formulation of national underwater cultural heritage planning guidelines for use by government heritage agencies and private consultants. The department continued to participate in a national project that aims to develop methods for the rapid excavation of shipwrecks that are under threat of destruction. During April-May 2012 an officer from the department participated in the first excavations of the Clarence shipwreck in Port Phillip, Victoria. The project is funded in part through a $0.5 million Australian Research Council linkage grant.
The department is undertaking an ongoing review of the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. One aspect of the review is whether Australia should ratify the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. Ratification of the convention would require the scope of the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 to be expanded to include protection for all underwater cultural heritage. During the year the department consulted with other Commonwealth government agencies about the possibility of ratification. The department also received funding from the Netherlands to attend an expert round-table in The Hague to discuss possible ratification of the convention by the Netherlands.
Australia has a treaty with the Netherlands concerning old Dutch shipwrecks (the Agreement between the Netherlands and Australia), which is a schedule to the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. Under this treaty the department supports collaborative work with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Both Dr John Bach OAM and Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton, Australia’s members on the Australian and Netherlands Committee for Old Dutch Shipwrecks, retired after 39 years of participation. Replacements are expected to be appointed during 2012-13.
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981
The department uses regulation and compliance activities, cooperative partnerships with state and territory governments, and provision of information to improve awareness of the EPBC Act to protect and conserve the environment. Further detail is provided in the report on the operation of the EPBC Act.
Species and ecological community listings and information
The minister decides whether to list a species or ecological community as threatened under the EPBC Act upon consideration of advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) on the eligibility of those items for listing. In 2011-12, based on assessments completed by the TSSC, six species and six ecological communities were listed, and seven species were transferred from one category of threat to another. At 30 June 2012 a further 120 species and 16 ecological communities were being assessed for possible listing. More detail on the listings is provided in the report on the operation of the EPBC Act.
To achieve consistency between Australian Government and state and territory threatened species lists, and to promote the exchange of information, the Australian Government has both formal and informal partnerships with all states and territories. These partnerships allow for targeted expenditure of limited conservation resources and facilitate the best possible conservation outcomes for threatened species. Under these partnerships, state or territory government agencies usually assess species endemic to their jurisdiction, before providing information to the Australian Government for assessment under the EPBC Act.
During 2011-12 the department progressed work to identify ecological communities that have the highest priority to be assessed for potential listing as matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act.
Part of the prioritisation process focuses on endemic ecological communities listed by states and territories in the ‘endangered’ and ‘critically endangered’ categories that are likely to benefit most from additional protection under the EPBC Act. In 2011-12 assessments were completed on two state-endemic ecological communities (one in Western Australia and one in Queensland) and work progressed on two others. All new listing advice for ecological communities at the national level contain clear links to state and territory-listed ecological communities and vegetation/ecosystem classification systems.
In addition, a strategic national ecological communities workshop was held in March 2012, with experts from across Australia, to refine prioritisation principles for national listing and identify possible gaps on the national list.
The EPBC Act provides for the making or adopting of recovery plans and conservation advice when a species or ecological community is listed. Recovery plans set out the research and management actions needed to stop the decline and support the recovery of listed threatened species or threatened ecological communities.
The department, with the relevant state and territory government environment agencies, made substantial investment in the recovery of threatened species and ecological communities through developing and implementing recovery plans.
While the department has continued to adopt recovery plans developed by state and territory governments, it also progressed the development of several new plans that are being facilitated by the department and that are to be made directly instead of adopted under the EPBC Act. Collaboration with state and territory governments and other stakeholders remains an essential element of recovery plan development under this approach.
While the department aimed to complete 60 recovery plans during 2011-12, 27 came into force. Many other recovery plans were close to completion, with stakeholder comment and scientific advice needing to be addressed in finalising them.
Protecting our natural assets
The EPBC Act provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places, defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance. It also regulates the potential impacts of activities on Commonwealth land, the impacts of actions carried out by Commonwealth agencies and the international movement of wildlife and wildlife products.
Environment assessments under the EPBC Act ensure that development is undertaken in a way that supports the protection and recovery of the Australian environment.
The EPBC Act provides for consistent and transparent regulation of activities with the potential to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance. Such activities and projects from all industry sectors are referred to the department for assessment.
In 2011-12 the department continued to assess large, complex and economically significant projects from all industry sectors under the EPBC Act. Of the 412 new referrals received, 132 referrals were determined to be controlled actions requiring further assessment and approval under the EPBC Act, 151 were determined not to be controlled actions, and 94 were determined not to be controlled actions subject to them being undertaken in a particular manner. Seventy-five proposals were approved subject to conditions and one proposal was determined to be clearly unacceptable. Key projects approved included:
- the Wheatstone project to be undertaken by Chevron Australia Pty Ltd, which involves the construction and operation of a liquified natural gas and domestic gas plant, including onshore and offshore facilities
- the Olympic Dam copper, uranium, gold and silver mine, processing plant and associated infrastructure
- various iron ore proposals to be developed in the Pilbara Bioregion, Western Australia.
Assessment bilateral agreements
EPBC Act assessment bilateral agreement allows the Commonwealth to avoid duplicating assessment processes by delegating the responsibility for conducting environmental assessments under the EPBC Act to the states and territories and, in some cases, state and territory approval decisions. If a proposed action is assessed under an accredited state/territory process, the action still requires a separate approval decision under the EPBC Act. Alternatively, if proposed actions are covered by an approval bilateral, then they will be assessed and approved by the states and territories in accordance with accredited management arrangements or authorisation processes. No further approval is required from the Commonwealth minister under the EPBC Act. To be accredited, state and territory processes need to meet best practice criteria set out in the EPBC Act and its Regulations.
On 13 April 2012 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reaffirmed its commitment to high environmental standards, while reducing duplication and streamlining environmental assessment and approval processes. COAG agreed that governments will work together to achieve reform outcomes. This work will include prioritising the development of bilateral arrangements for accreditation of state and territory assessment and approval processes.
On 21 March 2012 a new bilateral agreement was entered into by Western Australia and the Commonwealth and replaced the previous bilateral agreement. This followed changes to Western Australian environmental legislation in 2010, which introduced a new Public Environmental Review environmental impact assessment process. The new bilateral accredits this process under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (WA).
The bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland accredits specified Queensland environmental impact assessment processes in assessing actions under the EPBC Act. On 14 June 2012 the bilateral agreement was amended to strengthen cooperative arrangements between the Commonwealth and the Queensland Government. In particular, the amended agreement provides a mechanism to ensure that if the Queensland Government believes that the agreed requirements cannot be met, then it will provide early written notification and seek the Commonwealth’s agreement to complete the environmental assessment work.
As of 30 June 2012 assessment bilateral agreements under the EPBC Act were in place between the Commonwealth and all jurisdictions except New South Wales. The New South Wales assessment bilateral agreement expired in January 2012, and a new agreement is being negotiated between the Commonwealth and New South Wales.
Under section 146 of the EPBC Act, the minister may agree to assess the impacts of actions under a policy, plan or program, including, but not limited to:
- regional-scale development plans and policies
- large-scale industrial development and associated infrastructure
- fire, vegetation/resource or pest management policies, plans or programs
- water extraction and use policies
- industry sector policies.
Within this context a strategic assessment can cover any number of projects that would otherwise need to be separately assessed under the EPBC Act.
Strategic assessments continue to break new ground and promote ecologically sustainable development and facilitate adaptive management methodologies. These approaches are collaborative between tiers of governments, and have the capacity to better align Commonwealth and state/territory processes while achieving ecological sustainability through consideration of environmental assets at the landscape scale. This therefore provides a tool for reducing regulatory burden by considering Commonwealth and state/territory environmental planning issues in a single assessment process.
Strategic assessments give greater certainty to developers, landholders, planners, industry, governments and the community as it allows for individual future developments to proceed without further assessment if they are consistent with the approved policy, plan or program. This provides considerable scale for dealing with environmental issues in a more holistic and proactive way and allows for cumulative impacts to be considered early in planning processes.
The Commonwealth entered into four new strategic assessments in 2011-12:
- Two comprehensive strategic assessments for developments and activities that may impact on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. This comprises two separate agreements with the Queensland Government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to assess:
- the GBRMPA’s management arrangements for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area
- Queensland’s coastal zone planning and development framework for the area adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
- The Perth and Peel region urban development strategic assessment with the state of Western Australia.
- The development of Heathcote Ridge in Sutherland Shire, Sydney, with the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council in New South Wales.
The minister endorsed and/or approved the following strategic assessments:
- Molonglo Valley plan, Australian Capital Territory
- Western Sydney growth centres, New South Wales
- Midlands water scheme, Tasmania (involving three stages, with two stages approved as of 30 June 2012).
The department completed a review of strategic assessments to inform best practice. The report A guide to undertaking strategic assessments (2011) is available on the department’s website at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/guide-to-strategic-assessments.html.
Preserving the marine environment from pollution
The Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 fulfils Australia’s international obligations under the London Convention and Protocol. In 2011-12, 14 sea dumping permits were issued by the department.
The Sea Installations Act 1987 regulates construction and operation of human-made devices, equipment and other installations in the marine environment to ensure they are operated safely and are environmentally sound. No sea installation permits were granted by the department this year.
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC)
In 2011-12 the department provided professional, accurate and timely advice to the TSSC which resulted in listing decisions being made for 13 species and six ecological communities and the provision of advice on key threatening processes under the EPBC Act.
All relevant statutory deadlines were met in 2011-12, with the TSSC operating efficiently and effectively to ensure key outcomes were met.
The TSSC completed and provided assessments for 28 species and nine ecological communities in 2011-12. Nominations were received for 18 species, five ecological communities and three key threatening processes for the assessment period commencing 1 October 2012. Work on the list-alignment process with state and territory government agencies continued.
The department also provided secretariat and other support functions for the TSSC, which enabled the smooth running of three major committee meetings, several committee working groups, species-specific external stakeholder workshops (including for koalas and dogfish) and the attendance of committee members at the Senate inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of Australia’s koala population.
In 2011-12 Professor Helene Marsh was appointed to the position of Chair of the TSSC, and Dr Michelle Heupel was also welcomed onto the committee.
The TSSC developed comprehensive listing and conservation advice for all species and ecological communities assessed during 2011-12. One hundred and thirty-one advices were published on Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database once they were approved by the minister.
Permit approvals and wildlife management
The international movement of wildlife and wildlife products is regulated under the EPBC Act. The Act provides for the regulation of export trade in specimens derived from regulated native species, imports and exports of species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the import of regulated live animals.
Export approval can be given provided the specimens have been derived from an approved captive breeding program, artificial propagation program, aquaculture program, wildlife trade operation, or a wildlife trade management plan.
The following wildlife programs were approved in 2011-12:
- three captive breeding programs
- Silke Weyland (butterflies)
- Venom Supplies
- Australian Museum (fringed jumping spider)
- three new and 14 revised artificial propagation programs
- one aquaculture program—Murray Darling Fisheries
- five individual wildlife trade operations (non-fisheries)
- two flora wildlife trade operations (Tasmanian Native Flora and Fillers, M&K Cole Ferns)
- three fauna wildlife trade operations (AIMS, Soul Home and Venom Supplies)
- one wildlife trade management plan (New South Wales Commercial Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2012-16).
The department completed 48 assessments for transfers of live animals for exhibition in zoos and aquaria. The department ensures that live animals only go to appropriate zoological institutions through a review process and facility assessment. The department completed 45 facility assessments for a wide range of animals, including koala, Sumatran tiger and western lowland gorilla.
In 2011-12, 617 permits for export were issued, and 1238 permits for import (both CITES and non-CITES specimens).
Mandatory conditions are attached to permits issued by the department authorising international wildlife trade under the EPBC Act. These conditions protect the environment and ensure that international wildlife trade is conducted in accordance with legal requirements and at a level that is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.
Compliance and enforcement
The department takes a strategic approach to ensure that EPBC Act compliance and enforcement is consistent, efficient and effective across the marine and terrestrial environments. This approach includes the development and maintenance of relationships with other compliance and enforcement agencies of the Commonwealth, states and territories.
In 2011-12 the department audited, or commenced auditing, six projects under the random compliance audit program. These projects were selected from approvals made since the inception of the EPBC Act and included: a residential development in Western Australia; two coalmines in Queensland; a surface-water management scheme in Victoria; a dam upgrade in Queensland; and the relocation of a Victorian wholesale market.
The strategic risk-based audit program focuses on specific areas such as industry sectors, geographical areas and protected matters. During 2011-12 the program focused on 13 projects, including seven in the mining and exploration industries, a residential development, an industrial development and a review of four approvals that included conditions requiring the establishment and management of habitat reserves and offsets. Overall, the audits identified a substantial level of compliance with conditions. Instances of non-compliance were addressed in accordance with the department’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
The department examined 448 new incidents or activities representing potential breaches of Part 3 of the EPBC Act in 2011-12. Sixty site inspections were undertaken to obtain information to assess whether alleged non-compliance actions had occurred and the department began 15 new cases of alleged breaches of the EPBC Act. Of these there were:
- two relating to Part 13A of the EPBC Act (illegal international movement of
- five relating to Part 3 of the EPBC Act (significant impact on matters of national environmental significance)
- eight relating to EPBC Act marine issues (marine reserve offences and marine
The EPBC Act provides a range of approaches for compliance issues, including prevention, remediation, civil penalties and criminal prosecutions for more serious breaches, and reporting on compliance and enforcement issues. In 2011-12, enforcement outcomes included 14 successful criminal prosecutions, six infringement notices, one enforceable undertaking and one conservation agreement.
EPBC Act compliance and enforcement activity is consistent with the department’s overarching Compliance and Enforcement Policy, which was updated in December 2009 following approval by the Attorney General’s Department and adoption by the minister. This policy provides regulated entities, stakeholders and the wider community with clear advice on how the department exercises its compliance and enforcement responsibilities across the entire range of legislation administered by the department. The policy is available on the department’s website at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/epbc-compliance-enforcement-policy.html.
The department’s Executive Board approved formal adoption of the new EPBC Act Compliance and Enforcement Policy on 21 February 2012. The new policy sits underneath the overarching Compliance and Enforcement Policy and is specific to the EPBC Act. The policy describes the department’s approach to, and the principles that guide, compliance and enforcement activities under the EPBC Act, promotes a consistent, transparent and fair approach to EPBC Act compliance and enforcement activities, and provides guidance for stakeholders and the wider community about how the department addresses potential contraventions of the EPBC Act.
Information on EPBC Act compliance and enforcement activities in terrestrial reserves is in the annual report of the Director of National Parks.
The Supervising Scientist Division
The Alligator Rivers Region, some 220 kilometres east of Darwin, contains a number of former, current and potential uranium mines, including:
- Ranger, which is currently in operation
- Nabarlek, situated in Arnhem Land, where mining has ceased and rehabilitation is underway
- Jabiluka, which has been in long-term care and maintenance since December 2003
- the Koongarra Project Area, which was incorporated into the surrounding World Heritage Area by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in June 2011.
Ranger, Jabiluka and Koongarra are surrounded by but not part of Kakadu National Park. However, a number of small former uranium deposits that were mined during the 1950s and 1960s and finally rehabilitated between 2003 and 2009 are located in what is now the southern portion of Kakadu National Park. The Supervising Scientist Division monitors and conducts research into environmental management at these sites.
To achieve its objectives, the Supervising Scientist Division:
- plays a key role in supervising the environmental aspects of regulatory arrangements applying to uranium mining within the region
- works closely with the Northern Territory Government’s regulatory body and other stakeholders to ensure that regulatory decisions are based on the best available scientific knowledge
- regularly audits and inspects existing and former uranium mine sites within the region
- undertakes detailed, independent, scientific investigations into incidents, breaches of approval conditions and environmental requirements of uranium mining operations
- oversees the regulation of uranium mining in the region to ensure that the government and community can be confident that regulation is meeting expected standards
- undertakes an ongoing independent, comprehensive, chemical, biological and radiological monitoring program designed to detect any potential effects of uranium mining in the region
- undertakes targeted scientific research to optimise the monitoring programs and to provide early warning of any potential effects of uranium mining on the environment of the region.
Map 5.1: Alligator Rivers Region, Northern Territory
Protection of matters of national environmental significance
- The department continued to assess large, complex and economically significant projects from all industry sectors under the EPBC Act in 2011-12. Of the 412 new referrals received, 151 referrals were determined not to be a controlled action, 94 referrals were determined not to be a controlled action subject to being undertaken in a particular manner and 132 referrals were determined to require formal assessment and approval under the EPBC Act. Seventy-five proposals were approved under the EPBC Act and one project was deemed clearly unacceptable by the minister.
- The Commonwealth entered into four new strategic assessments in 2011-12, including a comprehensive strategic assessment for developments and activities that may impact on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. In 2011-12, the minister endorsed and/or approved three strategic assessments, including:
- Molonglo Valley plan, Australian Capital Territory
- Western Sydney growth centres, New South Wales
- Midlands water scheme, Tasmania (involving three stages, with two stages approved as of 30 June 2012).
- Based on assessments completed by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, the minister listed six new species, including the listing of the koala as vulnerable in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, and six ecological communities as threatened under the EPBC Act. Guidelines and landholder factsheets were also published for seven ecological communities.
- There were 448 new incidents reported to the department, which were assessed for compliance. Sixty site inspections were undertaken to obtain information to assess whether alleged non-compliance actions had occurred. The department audited, or commenced auditing, six EPBC Act-approved projects under the random compliance auditing program and focused on 13 EPBC Act-approved projects under the strategic risk-based audit program.
- A number of significant investigation-related activities were completed, resulting in 14 successful criminal prosecutions, six infringement notices, one enforceable undertaking and one conservation agreement.
- During 2011-12, 14 reviews of wildlife permit holder compliance were conducted. Of these reviews, all 14 were completed and finalised. Two thousand four hundred and twenty-five seizure and caution notices were issued by Australian enforcement authorities for the import of suspected CITES specimens without appropriate permission.
- The department worked closely with partner agencies to manage wildlife compliance by sharing intelligence and resources. This included state and territory wildlife counterparts, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Australian Federal Police, CITES Management Authorities in other countries, Interpol, and some non-government organisations. The department has continued to provide information sessions to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to assist with their enforcement of CITES at Australian borders. Sessions have been held in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne and included both new-recruit and in-service training.
- The department continued to participate in the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking (CAWT), becoming the Chair of CAWT from 1 May 2012. The department draws on its ongoing CITES-related activities and initiatives on illegal wildlife trade to implement CAWT objectives.
- The department, in partnership with the relevant state and territory government environment agencies, made substantial investment in the recovery of threatened species and ecological communities through developing and implementing recovery plans. The minister or his delegate approved the adoption of 27 national recovery plans under the EPBC Act, covering 36 species and nine ecological communities.
- A regional recovery plan for threatened biodiversity on King Island was finalised ready for adoption under the EPBC Act. The plan was developed by the Tasmanian Government in consultation with the King Island community and the department. Upon adoption, it will add to the five other regional recovery plans adopted in recent years to better integrate recovery with other planning initiatives across a defined area of the landscape.
- Significant progress has been made on regional recovery plans for the Fitzgerald Biosphere, Christmas Island and Mary River, as well as 24 ecological community plans, 77 single species plans and 20 multi-species plans.
- The Species Profile and Threats database collates information about listed species and ecological communities. A total of 131 new or updated profiles were undertaken in 2011-12.
- The department worked closely with CSIRO to develop a method for carrying out a national flying fox monitoring program, due to commence in 2012-13.
- During 2011-12 the department supported the minister in finalising a new bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and Western Australia, and in clarifying the roles of the Commonwealth and Queensland under their existing agreement. As of 30 June 2012, bilateral agreements were in place between the Commonwealth and all jurisdictions except New South Wales.
Royal Exhibition Buildings and Carlton Gardens. (National Trust of Australia)
Quality Row, Kingston, Norfolk Island. (Mark Mohell)
Old Government House & the Government Domain. (Steve Wray)
The Supervising Scientist Division
The adequacy and content of research activities in the Alligator Rivers Region, including those of the Supervising Scientist Division, are regularly reviewed by the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee. This statutory committee, established under the provisions of the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978, comprises stakeholder representatives and a majority of independent scientific experts. The committee provides a report to the minister after each meeting. Both reports from the committee during 2011-12 were highly complementary of the Supervising Scientist Division research program.
The West Kimberley is an iconic living landscape. Sheer escarpments, spectacular waterfalls and limestone ranges created by ancient coral reefs are the backdrop to a place that weaves together a remarkable account of the evolution of the Australian continent, with Aboriginal history dating back more than 40 000 years. The region’s remoteness has created a haven of biodiversity that supports plant and animal species found nowhere else in Australia. The West Kimberley also tells the story of European exploration and settlement, from William Dampier’s landing place to the development of rich and vibrant pastoral and pearling industries that continue today.
In August 2011 this magnificent region was given Australia’s highest form of heritage recognition by being included in the National Heritage List. The West Kimberley National Heritage place covers more than 19 million hectares of land and sea and includes the north Kimberley coast and islands from Cape Leveque to Cambridge Gulf, the Kimberley Plateau, King Leopold Ranges, Devonian Reef, Roebuck Bay and the Fitzroy River and its floodplain.
The West Kimberley assessment was one of the largest and most complex ever undertaken by the Australian Heritage Council and a dedicated team of officers in the department.
Departmental staff consulted widely to bring together all of the outstanding Aboriginal, historic, natural and aesthetic heritage values of the region. The heritage team worked closely with the Kimberley Land Council and Kimberley Traditional Owners to identify Indigenous heritage values and stories. Thirteen native title groups participated in the national heritage assessment process and gave their informed consent to the inclusion of their stories and their traditional land and sea country in the listing. Some of those values include the well-known painted images of Wanjina and other creator beings and ancestors found in numerous rock shelters and caves across the region. These paintings represent a stunning visual record of an ongoing Aboriginal painting tradition that is considered one of the longest and most complex rock art sequences anywhere in the world.
The West Kimberley National Heritage listing also provides insights into the biological and geological processes that have shaped our continent. The place preserves a unique record of ancient life in Australia, including the only prints of a sauropod (a large, four-legged, plant-eating dinosaur) found on the continent, and the Gogo fish fossils, whose remarkable preservation provides a rare insight into the evolution of life on earth, including the development of live birth and the earliest four-limbed vertebrates. The National Heritage values of the West Kimberley National Heritage place are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The listing will help to ensure that heritage values are part of decision making and heritage protection will be balanced with the social and economic aspirations of the Kimberley community.
Bardi dancer Frank Davey Jr. with Minister Tony Burke at One Arm Point on the day the West Kimberley was included on the National Heritage List. Permission granted to use the photograph from the Kimberley Land Council. (A. Tatnell)
The Devonian Reef at Windjana Gorge in the West Kimberley National Heritage place. (D. Harkess)
Dinosaur trackways in the Broome sandstone in the West Kimberley National Heritage place. (D. Harkess)
Case Study 2: Australia protects US warships lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea
On 7 May 2012 at a moving ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Minister Tony Burke declared the shipwrecks of the USS Lexington, USS Sims and USS Neosho as protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. United States Ambassador Mr Jeffrey Bleich responded on behalf of the US Government, thanking the Minister for the declaration. Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon. Warren Snowden MP, and Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith MP, also attended. The practical result of this declaration is that any actions that may result in the damage, interference, removal or destruction of these shipwrecks or their relics are now illegal.
The stars of the ceremony were four Coral Sea veterans. Two Australian veterans from the battle, Mr Derek Holyoake and Mr Gordon Johnson, both served on the HMAS Hobart. Mr Johnson told of his experience as a young radio operator on the Hobart and gave an interesting historical perspective of the battle.
Two United States veterans, Mr J Harry Frey and Mr Cecil Wiswell, who both served on the USS Lexington, also attended. Mr Frey delighted the audience by telling how he had the presence of mind to liberate the ships’ containment of pineapple sorbet as everyone was ordered to abandon ship, carrying in his helmet and sharing it with his shipmates as they waited for rescue.
The declaration coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, in which the ships were sunk. The Battle of the Coral Sea saw the genesis of the alliance between Australia and the United States.
This work is part of the department’s ongoing cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that was formalised in 2010 with the signing of a memorandum of understanding on maritime and underwater cultural heritage. The shipwreck positions were identified as a result of archival research led by the department and NOAA in the United States. To coincide with the announcement of the declarations, the department also gave a presentation on shared maritime heritage to staff at the NOAA headquarters in Washington DC.
To mark the declaration of these three shipwrecks the department produced a booklet titled Friends across the Pacific: Shared WWII maritime heritage of Australia and the United States.
Mr Gordon Johnson, US Ambassador to Australia, Jeff Bleich and Minister Tony Burke. (Andrew Tatnell)
Case Study 3: Listing of koalas
On 30 April 2012 the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon. Tony Burke MP, listed the koala (combined populations of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory) as vulnerable under the EPBC Act. This decision followed a rigorous scientific assessment process that involved significant public and expert consultation and consideration of the findings of the Senate Inquiry into the status, health and sustainability of Australia’s koala population. The minister made his decision based on advice he received from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee.
It is widely recognised that koalas are under serious threat from habitat loss, urban expansion, vehicle strikes, dogs and disease. However these threats are not evenly distributed, with koala populations seriously declining in some parts of the country but remaining stable (or even increasing) in other areas. In some parts of Victoria and South Australia, koalas are eating themselves out of suitable foraging habitat and need to be actively managed. This is why the minister listed Australia’s most at-risk populations in Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, as threatened under national environmental law. Funding was also announced under the National Environmental Research Program ‘Emerging Priorities’ to help find out more about koala habitat and fill information gaps that will assist with future conservation of koala populations.
More information can be found at www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/species/koala.html.
Baby koala clinging onto sapling branches. (Dave Watts)
Further case studies related to protection of matters of national environmental significance can be found in the report on the operation of the EPBC Act.
Case Study 4: A new paradigm for assessing water quality performance downstream of the Ranger uranium mine
The Ranger uranium mine, located 250 kilometres east of Darwin, is completely surrounded by, but excluded from, the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia (see map of the Alligator Rivers Region earlier in this chapter).
To ensure the protection of the Ramsar-listed Magela Creek wetlands downstream of the Ranger mine, and the people who live there, the department conducts a comprehensive water quality monitoring program, including continuous monitoring of key water quality variables. This monitoring shows that concentrations of mine-derived solutes in the Magela Creek downstream from the Ranger mine can fluctuate rapidly due to changes in creek discharge and mine-water discharge.
These fluctuations result in exposure levels of aquatic organisms to mine waters that are different to the laboratory toxicity tests which apply a constant concentration and longer duration of exposure. The laboratory tests are used to produce site-specific trigger values, which represent ‘safe’ levels above which environmental harm could occur for the key mine-derived solutes. As such, these trigger levels may overestimate the effects of shorter-time exposures of mine waters.
To address this issue, the department completed a major project to quantify the toxic effects of short-duration pulse exposures of magnesium to six local aquatic species (see www.environment.gov.au/ssd/research/ecotoxicology.html). Magnesium was assessed because it is the primary indicator of mine inputs to Magela Creek, and is also the one that is most likely to approach or exceed its water quality trigger value. Pulse exposure durations of four, eight and 24 hours were tested, based on analysis of five years’ of continuous monitoring data.
The ultimate aim of the project is to develop a model from which water quality trigger values can be inferred for any given exposure duration measured in Magela Creek.
Using the Australian and New Zealand Water Quality Guidelines methodology, toxicity data obtained from over 50 tests were used to derive trigger values for both magnesium and electrical conductivity (Table 1). Electrical conductivity is the key variable that is continuously monitored in Magela Creek and can be used to reliably estimate magnesium.
Toxicity testing in the laboratory. (Andrew Harford)
|Exposure duration||99% species protection trigger value|
|Magnesium (mg/L)||Electrical conductivity ( µS/cm)|
|Continuous (3-6 days)||3||42|
Once the trigger values were derived for the four discrete exposure durations, a model of the relationship between trigger value and exposure duration was constructed using the line of best fit.
Figure 1: Model of the relationship between water quality trigger value (for magnesium and electrical conductivity) and exposure duration
The model allows trigger values to be inferred for any pulse duration between four and 72 hours. During the 2012-13 wet season, this model will form the basis for a magnesium/electrical conductivity trigger value framework that will enable improved interpretation of the potential for environmental effect of transient pulses of electrical conductivity (and magnesium) in Magela Creek downstream of the Ranger mine.
This project highlights how the Supervising Scientist Division is continuing to develop improved water quality assessment methods through targeted research.
Program 5.1: Environment Protection and Heritage Conservation
|Provision of funding to assist the protection, conservation and promotion of nationally significant heritage places.||$20 million provided to the Victorian Government for the protection and promotion of the Royal Exhibition Building. $4.5 million for the eradication of rodents on Lord Howe Island. Grant programs were successfully administered, delivering funding to support heritage protection, conservation and interpretation. $7.9 million was provided to 235 projects to assist the protection, conservation and promotion of nationally significant heritage places.|
|Development of an Australian Heritage Strategy, which provides national leadership in heritage management, conservation and celebration.||Consultation continues on the development of the Australian Heritage Strategy. It is anticipated that the final strategy will be released in the final quarter of 2012-13.|
|Provision of advice and direction on effective management practices for nationally significant heritage places.||Advice provided to New South Wales and Queensland governments to facilitate the drafting of a Strategic Overview for management of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World and National Heritage place.|
|Fund the state and territory National Trusts to enhance and promote Australia’s heritage.||$970,000 provided for 10 projects in 2011-12.|
|Assist Papua New Guinea to identify and protect the values of the Kokoda Track and surrounding region.||Under the Kokoda Initiative, $4.391 million was provided to meet the long-term objective of the sustainable development of the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region and protection of its special natural, cultural and historical values by working towards the five goals set out in the Second Joint Understanding (2010-15) between Papua New Guinea and Australia.|
|Assist Pacific Island countries to manage and protect their World Heritage sites.||Assistance provided through the Australian Funds-In-Trust for projects in 4 countries (Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Cambodia). Activities also included a regional workshop on World Heritage, and support for attendance of representatives from Pacific Island Countries to the World Heritage Committee meeting. Pacific Public Sector Linkage Program activities for strengthening World Heritage and protected area governance are being successfully implemented in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.|
|Deliverables||2011-12 Budget Target||2011-12 Results|
|Funding provided for projects to celebrate nationally significant historical places [$].||$4.425m||$8.49 million was provided to 235 projects to assist the protection, conservation and promotion of nationally significant heritage places.|
|Countries assisted in our region to identify or protect their World Heritage [#].||3||Assistance provided through the Australian Funds-In-Trust for projects in four countries (Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Cambodia). Activities also included a regional workshop on World Heritage and support for attendance of representatives from Pacific Island Countries to the World Heritage Committee meeting. Pacific Public Sector Linkage Program activities for strengthening World Heritage and protected area governance are being successfully implemented in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.|
|Projects funded to protect and conserve nationally significant historical heritage places (including memorials to eminent Australians) [#].||20||45 (consisting of 33 places for Protecting National Historic sites, 6 for Commemorating Eminent Australians and six for Recovering from Natural Disasters).|
|Funding provided to state and territory agencies to help protect and manage shipwrecks and their relics that are in waters covered by the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 [$].||$0.44m||Nationally, a significant amount of work was delivered in 2011-12 against the Historic Shipwreck Program’s 6 objectives of: administration; Australian national shipwreck database; shipwreck survey, site monitoring and fieldwork; community engagement; conservation, research and publication; and other activities.|
|Grants provided to identify, conserve and protect Australia’s Indigenous Heritage [#] [$].||50
|The Indigenous Heritage Program provided $3.6 million to 45 projects to identify, conserve and promote Indigenous heritage places. The program was successfully administered, delivering funding to Indigenous communities to support heritage protection, conservation and interpretation of places important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The program contributes to the Australian Government policy of Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage.|
|Key Performance Indicators||2011-12 Results|
|Grants are awarded, executed and acquitted in line with the government’s standards and legislative requirements.||$8.49 million was provided to 235 projects to assist the protection, conservation and promotion of nationally significant heritage places.|
|Places added to the Commonwealth Heritage List or National Heritage List are assessed in a rigorous and timely manner.||46 places added to the Commonwealth Heritage List. 3 places added to the National Heritage List.|
|An Australian Heritage Strategy is launched by 30 June 2012.||The Australian Heritage Strategy was not launched by 30 June 2012 due to extended periods of consultation. A final strategy will be released by the final quarter of 2012-13.|
|Australian Heritage Week takes place in April 2012 in conjunction with the National Trust of Australia.||387 events registered on the Australian Heritage Week website www.heritage-week.govspace.gov.au. This website won the international Interactive Media Award for Outstanding Achievement for a government website, and the site received over 7000 hits following its launch in March 2012.|
|The Kokoda Track remains safe and accessible, and regional values are protected.||Funding provided to the Kokoda Track Authority to manage track operations, including funding for the Livelihoods program, safety activities and organisational support. Assistance was also provided to the Papua New Guinea Department of Environment and Conservation for the implementation of activities that contribute to achieving the goals of the Second Joint Understanding.|
|Governance systems and management plans for East Rennell (Solomon Islands) and Chief Roi Mata’s Domain (Vanuatu) World Heritage sites are improved.||Multiple activities implemented to improve governance systems for protected area management, enabling Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to better meet their obligations under the World Heritage Convention. This included implementing effective governance mechanisms, which allow for community management of World Heritage sites while ensuring the State Party can meet international obligations under the World Heritage Convention. Key achievements included election of the community management committee for the East Rennell World Heritage site, establishment of Vanuatu World Heritage Advisory Group, and establishment of networks between regional World Heritage properties (including Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and Vanuatu).|
Program 5.2: Environmental Regulation
|Develop a draft government response to the EPBC Act review for government consideration and implementation.||The Australian Government’s response to the report of the independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act1999 can be viewed at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/review/publications/final-report.|
|Develop information and tools to make it easier for stakeholders to comply with the EPBC Act and the Sea Dumping Act 1981.||
|Maintain and improve our legislative and administrative systems to increase the efficiency of our business processes and deliver increasingly high-quality, legally robust and consistent decisions.||As detailed in this chapter and the report on the operation of the EPBC Act, the department placed a major emphasis during 2011-12 on progressing the broad regulatory reform package detailed by the minister in August 2011 which aims to reduce regulatory burdens and duplication within and across jurisdictions. This work has included:
|Develop scientifically rigorous and appropriate environmental performance criteria for the operation, closure and rehabilitation of uranium mines in the Alligator Rivers Region.||A final round of aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling was completed for five Ranger mine-impacted and eight reference water bodies elsewhere in the Alligator Rivers Region. Analysis of results from this work was completed and provisional water quality closure criteria have been produced for the Ranger mine.|
|Develop bilateral agreements and strategic assessments with state and territory governments, in accordance with EPBC Act requirements, to increase the effectiveness of cooperative environmental protection efforts.||Assessment bilateral agreements are being maintained with all states and territories. These allow states and territories to assess project impacts on matters of national environmental significance on behalf of the Commonwealth.|
|Key Performance Indicators||2011-12 Results|
|EPBC Act assessments are completed within statutory timelines.||86% of all statutory decisions under the EPBC Act were made within statutory timeframes. This includes permits, listings, recovery plans and environmental impact assessments. Further detail can be found in the report on the operation of the EPBC Act.|
|Assess or investigate all reported compliance incidences under the EPBC Act.||The department considered all allegations of non-compliance under the EPBC Act. 448 incidents or activities representing potential breaches of Part 3 of the EPBC Act were examined by the department. Additionally, 2425 potential breaches of Part 13A of the EPBC Act were received and assessed, involving issuance of 1600 seizure notices and 825 caution notices.|
|State and territory government accredited processes are recognised and incorporated into the operation of the EPBC Act.||The department commenced work to deliver the COAG agreement of April 2012 to fast-track the development arrangements for accreditation of state and territory assessment and approval processes with agreements finalised by March 2013.|
|Key Performance Indicators||2011-12 Budget Target||2011-12 Results|
|Statutory decisions under the EPBC Act made within statutory timeframe [%].||95%||86% of all statutory decisions under the EPBC Act were made within statutory timeframes. This includes permits, listings, recovery plans and environmental impact assessments. Further detail can be found in the report on the operation of the EPBC Act.|
|Instances of uranium concentration of surface water downstream of Ranger mine exceeding six micrograms per litre [%].||0%||No instances|
The department has historically met its KPIs for Programs 5.1 and 5.2.