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10 December 1999
Ministers of the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC), meeting in Melbourne, Victoria on 10 December 1999, have in addition to their previous priority issues, agreed to new priorities to focus activities for the next two years.
During the past two years ANZECC has undertaken the promotion of Australia's water reform agenda to ensure environmental water issues have been addressed; endorsed the National Greenhouse Strategy; considered a range of native vegetation management issues; and managed the development of the National Packaging Covenant.
ANZECC has restated its commitment to the key priority areas of water for the environment, oceans, greenhouse, waste management and native vegetation.
For the next two years ANZECC has agree to focus on additional emerging priority issues including:
The Council endorsed the National Framework for the Management and Monitoring of Australia's Native Vegetation. The Framework provides a vehicle to implement the commitment made by Commonwealth and State Governments in 1998 to reverse the long-term decline in quality and extent of Australia's vegetation cover by June 2001. This is a major step forward in the protection of Australia's native vegetation.
The Council also endorsed Interim Work Plans prepared by all jurisdictions as the principle means of implementing the National Framework. Jurisdictions will continue to refine these Plans, including public consultation where appropriate, and will report back to the next Council meeting.
Ministers were pleased to note progress made with the National Packaging Covenant and stressed the need to sustain the significant momentum to ensure the speedy achievement of tangible benefits. The covenant aims to strengthen and ensure the long-term survival of kerbside recycling programs.
During the meeting Ministers also heard from representatives of Papua New Guinea's Government about the reform of that country's environmental legislation. Papua New Guinea is planning to amalgamate the current three separate pieces of legislation into one. This is intended to create a more transparent and accountable decision-making process. The proposed Environment Bill will focus limited resources on activities that pose serious environmental problems. It was noted that the implementation of the proposed environment regulatory framework would require support and that members of ANZECC would be willing to pursue this with Papua New Guinea.
Other major outcomes from the ANZECC meeting included: