Council of Australian Governments, November 1997
The Parties acknowledge that, subject to the resolution of outstanding issues, it is desirable for the matters set out in this Agreement to be reflected in amendments to the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE). However, the Parties agree that implementation of this Agreement should not be delayed by the formal process of amending the IGAE.
For the purpose of this Agreement, 'State(s)' means a State or Territory named as a party to this Agreement.
- Agree on the need for reform in the following five areas to develop a more effective framework for intergovernmental relations on the environment:
- matters of National Environmental Significance;
- environmental assessment and approval processes;
- listing, protection and management of heritage places;
- compliance with State environmental and planning legislation;
- better delivery of national environmental programmes.
- Agree that a national partnership between all levels of government on environment issues must be based on the following principles:
- co-operation -
the achievement of environmental goals should be enhanced by increased co-operative efforts between the different levels of government and with stakeholders;
- effectiveness -
policy and programme development and implementation should be undertaken to achieve improved environmental outcomes on the ground;
- efficiency -
unnecessary duplication and overlap between governments should be minimised;
- seamlessness -
policies and programmes within and between governments should be designed and administered to ensure that clients experience integrated processes and interfaces;
- simplicity -
administrative and legislative systems should be simple to understand and designed to minimise
compliance costs; and
- transparency -
decision-making processes, accountability for decisions and delivery of policy and programme outcomes should be clear and public.
- co-operation -
Policy development, programme delivery and decision-making should be the responsibility of the level of government best placed to deliver agreed outcomes.
- Agree that the Commonwealth's involvement in environmental matters should focus on matters of national environmental significance as identified in Attachment 1 to this document.
- Agree that, in relation to proposals in which the Commonwealth and a State(s) have an interest, the Commonwealth's environmental assessment and approval processes should only be triggered by proposals which may have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance as identified in Part I of Attachment 1.
- Note that there is disagreement on how the triggers will operate in relation to nationally endangered and vulnerable species and endangered ecological communities, and places of national heritage significance.
- Note the intention of the Commonwealth to introduce legislation to remove the existing ad hoc and indirect triggers and replace them with triggers based on national environmental significance and to consult the States in the development and amendment of this legislation. This legislation will not come into effect prior to 1 July 1998.
- Note that the triggers for national environmental significance will require further definition through the Commonwealth's legislative review process.
- Note that the Commonwealth may apply its assessment and approval processes to meet its own obligations on the matters of national environmental significance identified in Attachment 1.
- Note that the Commonwealth also has interests and obligations for a range of other matters of national environmental significance in Part II of Attachment 1, but these are not triggers for the purpose of this clause.
- Note that the Commonwealth undertakes that it will not vary or add to the matters identified in Part 1 of Attachment 1 other than in consultation with the States.
- Agree that the environmental assessment and approval processes relating to matters of national environmental significance should be streamlined with the objectives of:
- relying on State processes as the preferred means of assessing proposals;
- limiting Commonwealth decisions to only those aspects of proposals concerning matters of national environmental significance;
- establishing a timely, efficient and co-operative process for dealing with proposals; and
- providing for the development of Commonwealth/State bilateral agreements which will enable accreditation of State processes and, in appropriate cases, State decisions (for example, agreed management plans) under Commonwealth legislation (and vice versa), noting that the Commonwealth legislation will not come into effect before 1 July 1998.
The agreed framework for reform is set out in Attachment 2.
- Agree to the rationalisation of the existing Commonwealth/State arrangements for the identification, protection and management of places of heritage significance through the development, within twelve months, of a co-operative national heritage places strategy which will:
- set out the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States;
- identify criteria, standards and guidelines, as appropriate, for the protection of heritage by each level of government;
- provide for the establishment of a list of places of national heritage significance; and
- maximise Commonwealth compliance with State heritage and planning laws.
- Note that indigenous heritage issues are being addressed in a separate process and are not covered by this Agreement.
- Agree to increased compliance by Commonwealth and State departments, statutory authorities, agencies, business enterprises and tenants with the relevant State's environment and planning laws in accordance with Attachment 3.
- Agree to establish more effective and efficient delivery mechanisms and accountability regimes for national environmental programmes of shared interest in accordance with Attachment 4.
- Agree that the parties will seek to resolve, out-of-session, the outstanding issues on how the triggers for the Commonwealth's environmental assessment and approval process will operate in relation to nationally endangered and vulnerable species and endangered ecological communities, and places of national heritage significance, and the scope of these triggers.
- Note that these triggers will not come into operation before 1 January 1999.
- Agree that nothing in this Agreement will affect any arrangements entered into, at any time, as part of a Regional Forest Agreement.
- Note the 1996 COAG endorsement of the outcomes of the Review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE) which required examination and reporting on ways to ensure that the role played by Local Government in environmental management receives increased recognition and better implementation in terms of the IGAE and that Local Government's role and involvement in processes to progress the objectives of the IGAE are clarified.