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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Federal Government has launched a new initiative to encourage more Australian businesses and industries to include environmental goals as part of their everyday business planning.
Environment Minister Robert Hill today urged business and industry groups to take up the challenge, launching a guide which provides a suggested framework for public environment reporting in Australia.
"There's an international business trend towards including environmental sustainable goals as part of day-to-day business planning. This guide will be the bible for Australian businesses as they strive to meet that objective," Senator Hill said.
Three of Australia's leading industry groups; the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group have backed the guide and agreed to support the government's environment reporting initiative to encourage reporting across all industry sectors.
Senator Hill said environmental reporting was a useful business tool, not only in helping meet sustainable goals but also in increasing overall efficiency and profitability.
"By taking the lead and publishing this Australian framework for public environment reporting, the Commonwealth Government hopes to encourage more firms to keep an eye on the green bottom line."
Public environmental reports can include information on environmental policies, consumption of water, energy and raw materials, waste and emissions of greenhouse gases, regulation compliance and details of community consultation.
Senator Hill said the Federal Government would provide $240,000 in funding to allow the employment of environmental reporting extension officers to work with key industry and business groups. Over the next 12 months the staff will communicate with businesses to provide them with effective and practical ways to become more eco-efficient, Senator Hill said.
"The test for any strong economy is to not only achieve continued economic growth but to do so in a way that is environmentally sustainable."
Officially releasing the guidelines; A Framework for Public Environment Reporting: An Australian Approach, Senator Hill thanked organisations involved in their development including the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation and the Australian Industry Group.
"The Framework was developed with extensive consultation with business and the community. Issues covered in the framework document include: why a report should be published, the scope, parameters and performance indicators, consultation, distribution, feedback and independent verification.
"As a result of this initiative, I look forward to a much greater uptake of voluntary public environmental reporting by organisations, more consistency and continual improvement in reporting."
A national series of seminars and workshops begin in Sydney on March 15 at Australian Business's Parramatta Office.
A Framework for Public Environmental Reporting: An Australian Approach is available on the internet at: http://www.environment.gov.au/.
Senator Hill's office Rod Bruem 02 6277 7640, 0419 258 364