Council of Australian Governments, November 1997
National environmental programmes
1. The parties agree that between the three levels of government, the existing and potential overlap and duplication in environmental programme development and administration should be minimised. To achieve the best possible practical environmental outcomes, the Commonwealth and the States will undertake consultation to establish streamlined, effective and efficient delivery mechanisms, and accountability regimes, for environmental programmes of shared interest.
2. The parties agree that programme delivery will be undertaken by the most appropriate level of government, consistent with effective, accountable and practicable delivery while achieving sound environmental outcomes.
3. The parties agree that the Commonwealth will primarily focus on matters of national environmental significance and that such programmes may warrant co-operative action by the Commonwealth and a State or States. The major role for the Commonwealth in the administration of co-operative environment programmes is in the establishment, in consultation with the States, of goals, objectives, priorities, strategies and frameworks, and ensuring performance against agreed goals and outcomes.
4. Where the Commonwealth or a State has identified a matter which it considers requires a programme of co-operative action, it will contact other governments which may have an interest. Consultation will then be undertaken between the relevant parties on the desirability of establishing a programme and the means to be used to achieve the desired environmental objectives. Where the Commonwealth has identified a need for a national programme of co-operative action which applies to all the States, the Commonwealth, after consultation with the States, will advise them of the Ministerial Council or fora in which the matter is to be considered. Where appropriate, arrangements will be made for consultation with Local Government.
5. Where it is agreed between the Commonwealth and a State or States that a programme of co-operative action is required, the Commonwealth and the State(s) will enter into an agreement or arrangement which will include:
- overarching goals and objectives;
- the national environmental outcomes to be achieved;
- roles and responsibilities of participants;
- funding and delivery frameworks (including funding to achieve the matters in (e) below);
- the accountability regime, including performance indicators, monitoring, reporting and appraisal mechanisms (linked to performance based incentives) to be established to measure the achievement of environmental, administrative and financial outcomes; and
- provision for the establishment, as appropriate, of subsidiary agreements between the State(s) and Local Government where it has a statutory or financial interest in the programme.
6. The Commonwealth agrees that State priorities will be taken into account in setting priorities for programmes that address matters of national environmental significance.
7. The parties agree that while the Commonwealth will retain the flexibility to provide direct funding to community groups and other organisations, such as Local Governments and Indigenous communities, the Commonwealth will first consult with the relevant States on any such proposals, and only implement such arrangements on the agreement of the State or, failing such agreement, on the decision of the relevant Commonwealth Minister. In the event of such decision, the Commonwealth will have full responsibility for project administration and accountability.
8. The parties agree that the contributions of funding sources will be properly and fully recognised.