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Resource Assessment Commission Coastal Zone Inquiry - Final Report November 1993

Resource Assessment Commission, November 1993
ISBN 0 64429457

Chapter 1 Introduction

1.1 Terms of Reference

1.1.0 This report has been prepared by the Resource Assessment Commission in accordance with terms of reference issued by the Prime Minister on 10 October 1991. The terms of reference require the Commission to conduct an inquiry into the use and management of Australia's coastal zone resources. The report contains the Inquiry's assessment of matters relevant to the terms of reference and its recommendations for measures that should be taken to improve the management of Australia's coastal zone resources.

1.1.2 Appendix C provides background information about the Resource Assessment Commission and the Coastal Zone Inquiry and about the procedures adopted during the Inquiry.

1.1.3 The Inquiry's terms of reference are reproduced in Box 1.1. The Inquiry is required primarily to examine and report on the integrated management of building, tourism, mariculture and associated development in Australia's coastal zone. In doing so, the Inquiry has sought to identify the deficiencies of current management arrangements and propose solutions to improve their effectiveness, so that Australians obtain greater benefit from the use of the zone's resources. The Inquiry's proposed solutions take into account vital aspects of the quality of life for Australians: continuing economic development; maintenance of the environment through the sustainable use of resources and preservation of biological diversity and biophysical processes; and continuing social and cultural advancement.

Box 1.1 The Inquiry's terms of reference


Notice of Referral of a Resource Matter under s.16 of the Resource Assessment Commission Act 1989

For the purpose of decisions that the Commonwealth may make in the exercise of its powers,

I require the Resource Assessment Commission to conduct an inquiry into Building, Tourism, Mariculture and associated development in Australia's coastal zone.

The scope of the inquiry shall be to:
In preparing its report, the Commission should:
The report of the inquiry is to be given to me by 25 November 1993.

R J L Hawke
Prime Minister

1.1.4 Although the Inquiry is required to give particular attention to integrated management of the sectors mentioned in its terms of reference, issues arising from other important activities involving the use of coastal zone resources-agriculture, fisheries, shipping, mineral exploration and extraction, conservation, recreation, and other major industrial, commercial and service activities-and from the use of the zone by indigenous people have also been considered. The Inquiry has considered the management of coastal zone resources as a whole and has proposed management solutions that are applicable to current and potential uses of the zone and all major activities there.

1.1.5 Examining coastal zone management arrangements has required the Inquiry to investigate the policies, institutions, regulatory mechanisms and activities of all spheres of government. Each sphere has responsibilities and interests in the zone and influences the management and use of the zone's resources. The activities of individuals, community groups, indigenous organisations and business and industry are also influential. The Inquiry has been mindful of all these interests, responsibilities and activities in proposing management solutions.

1.1.6 Background and policy work done by the Commonwealth and state, territory and local governments, including the work of the special Premiers Conference held in October 1990, has also been taken into account, as have other relevant government activities and the findings of previous inquiries.

1.1.7 The Inquiry has paid particular attention to non-metropolitan areas. It did, however, take the view that this did not preclude consideration of issues arising in metropolitan areas, and it has considered such issues to the extent that they are relevant to recommendations for the coastal zone in general.

1.1.8 Although this Inquiry is specifically concerned with Australia's coastal zone resources, many of the solutions put forward in this report could be successfully applied elsewhere in Australia to achieve integrated and strategic management of natural resources.

1.2 Approach to the Inquiry

1.2.0 The Commission's approach to inquiries is prescribed in the Resource Assessment Commission Act 1989. Section 8 of the Act sets out a number of matters to be dealt with in conducting an inquiry (see Box 1.2). Section 7 of the Act requires the Commission to be guided by the policy principles adopted by the Commonwealth Government for resolving competing claims for the use of resources; these principles, contained in Schedule 1 to the Act, are set out in Box 1.3.

1.2.1 The Commission is committed to an open inquiry process and has provided opportunities for all interested parties to participate in the Inquiry. It has endeavored to gain a comprehensive understanding of people's attitudes and values in relation to coastal zone resource use and management. In particular, it has consulted and involved state, Northern Territory and local governments. For example, case studies of coastal zone management were undertaken with the collaboration of each of the state governments (see Appendix C).

Box 1.2 Section 8 of the Resource Assessment Commission Act

In the performance of its functions in relation to a resource matter the Commission shall, as far as practicable and subject to the terms of the referral of the matter:

  1. identify the resource with which the matter is concerned and the extent of that resource;
  2. identify the various uses that could be made of that resource;
  3. identify:
    • the environmental, cultural, social, industry, economic and other values of that resource or involved in those uses; and
    • the implications for those values of those uses, including implications that are uncertain or long-term;
  4. assess the losses and benefits involved in the various alternative uses, or combinations of uses, of that resource, including:
  5. losses and benefits of an unquantifiable nature; and
  6. losses and benefits that are uncertain or long-term; and
  7. give consideration to any other aspect of the matter that it considers relevant.

Box 1.3 Policy Principles: schedule 1 to the Resource Assessment Commission Act
  1. There should be an integrated approach to conservation (including all environmental and ecological considerations) and development by taking both conservation (including all environmental and ecological considerations) and development aspects into account at an early stage.
  2. Resource use decisions should seek to optimise the net benefits to the community from the nation's resources, having regard to efficiency of resource use, environmental considerations, ecological integrity and sustainability, ecosystem integrity and sustainability, the sustainability of any development, and an equitable distribution of the return on resources.
  3. Commonwealth decisions, policies and management regimes may provide for additional uses that are compatible with the primary purpose values for the area, recognising that in some cases both conservation (including all environmental and ecological considerations) and development interests can be accommodated concurrently or sequentially, and, in other cases, choices must be made between alternative uses or combinations of uses.

1.2.2 This report is based on four main sources of information: evidence presented to the Inquiry in submissions, hearings and consultations before and after the release of the Inquiry's draft report in February 1993; the reports of the state case studies; the findings of research projects conducted by staff of the Commission and consultants to the Inquiry; and comments on the Inquiry's draft conclusions and recommendations, published in August 1993.

1.2.3 Appendix C describes the Inquiry's public participation process including meetings, case studies, workshops and field trips organised by the Inquiry. Appendix D lists the reports and papers made publicly available during the course of the Inquiry. Submissions received by the Inquiry and details of the Inquiry's hearings are listed in Appendix E. Appendix F deals with the distribution of submissions, the transcript of hearings, and research reports.

1.3 Structure of this Report

1.3.0 Chapters 2 to 4 of the report describe the characteristics of Australia's coastal zone resources, future uses of these resources and their management. These chapters provide the basis for examining the major resource use issues in the zone and the capacity of existing regulatory and economic instruments and institutions to achieve integrated management.

1.3.1 Chapters 5 and 6 set out the Inquiry's framework and proposed approach to improving coastal zone management. They highlight the need for national action and describe the nature of such action. They set out the four essential elements of the Inquiry's proposed plan for better management of Australia's coastal zone-the National Coastal Action Program.

1.3.2 The Inquiry's recommended actions related to each element of the National Coastal Action Program and the relationship of the Program to other national strategies are described in detail in Chapters 7 to 17. Chapter 18 summarises the actions that governments and others must take to implement the Inquiry's recommendations. Chapter 19 lists the Inquiry's conclusions and recommendations.

1.3.3 It should be noted that in the remainder of this report, and unless otherwise specified, the term 'states' is used to refer to the states and the Northern Territory.