Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

A National Sustainability Council for Australia

Media release
23 October 2012

Tony Burke, Minister for the Environment, today announced the establishment of a National Sustainability Council for Australia.

Mr Burke said the council would provide independent advice to the government on sustainability issues and produce public reports against a set of sustainability indicators.

"It was clear from the Sustainable Population Strategy that we need better information about how our economy, environment and society interact to inform better planning and decision making," Mr Burke said.

"That's why the Government announced the Measuring Sustainability program in the 2011-12 Budget.

"This program will allow for the collection of data guided by a set of sustainability indicators that will measure our progress while delivering capacity for better planning and decision making.

"The indicators will help us take a longer-term view and consider how actions and decisions today affect the opportunities available to future generations.

"The National Sustainability Council will report against the sustainability indicators every two years, highlighting key trends and emerging issues for policy and decision makers and communities around Australia."

The indicators will provide information about our economic, natural, social and human capital. They will cover a broad range of issues including housing supply, broadband internet connections, water consumption, recycling rates, ecosystem protection, educational attainment, feelings of safety, under- and unemployment and mental health.

"The Council will be chaired by Professor John Thwaites, chair of the Monash Sustainability Institute and ClimateWorks Australia,'' Mr Burke said.

Professor Thwaites' wealth of experience will be supported by members covering a breadth of disciplines and expertise.

More information on the National Sustainability Council and the sustainability indicators is at

National Sustainability Council


Professor John Thwaites, Chair of the Monash Sustainability Institute and ClimateWorks Australia


Mr Rod Glover, public policy and innovation expert, and former Deputy Secretary with the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet

Dr Tom Hatton PSM, Group Executive, Energy, CSIRO and Chair of the 2011 State of the Environment Committee

Professor Graeme Hugo AO, Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre and Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow at the University of Adelaide

Mr Mark Joiner, Executive Director Finance, National Australia Bank

Ms Romilly Madew, Chief Executive of the Green Building Council of Australia

Ms Sam Mostyn, company director and corporate sustainability advisor

Professor Sue Richardson AM, Principal Research Fellow, National Institute of Labour Studies, Flinders University