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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
22 October 1996
Federal Environment Minister, Robert Hill has announced further details of a new senior level structure for the Environment Portfolio.
The top structure changes have been preceded by an extensive staff consultation process which involved briefings of staff throughout the Environment portfolio.
Meetings were also held with union officials and workplace delegates.
The consultation process with staff will continue as the details of the new structure are worked through.
The review of the portfolio structure was foreshadowed in the budget statement 'Investing In Our Natural Heritage' and follows an independent report 'Review of the Environment Portfolio' by Coopers and Lybrand.
The Coopers and Lybrand report found that there were major structural problems facing the portfolio.
The proposed changes will help prepare the portfolio for the delivery of programs under the $1 billion Natural Heritage Trust program, which will be funded through the sale of one third of Telstra.
Key features of the restructure
'Environment Australia' will be the title used by the environment groups of the Environment, Sport and Territories Portfolio. The new title of 'Environment Australia' is an important symbolic change to recognise that the environment functions have reached a point in their history where a new approach is needed to achieve the outcomes required by Government.
Environment Australia will consist of five major functional groupings:
An Environment Executive will replace the Environment Policy Co-ordination Committee. The Executive will meet weekly and its responsibilities will include determining, subject to the Minister's guidance on the Government's policies, the environment priorities for the portfolio as a whole.
The restructure will not impact on the statutory functions and independence of statutory advice from the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service (ANPWS) or the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC).
Environment policy work will be focussed in the Department with the authorities concentrating on their statutory wildlife, parks and heritage protection responsibilities. The AHC will continue to provide its advice to the Minister for Environment on heritage policy issues and to the Minister for Communications and the Arts in relation to cultural heritage in particular.
The new structure will become fully operational later this year following the development of sectional structures for each functional group. This process will be the subject of consultation with staff.
Senior Executive staffing of Environment Australia was also announced.
Australian and World Heritage Group: Ms Sharon Sullivan
Biodiversity Group (and Director NPWS): Dr Peter Bridgewater
Environment Priorities and Coordination Group: Mr Phillip Toyne
Portfolio Marine Group (and Chairman GBRMPA): Dr Ian McPhail
The position heading the Environment Protection Group will be filled in the near future.
Mr Barry Carbon, Executive Director of the former Environment Protection Agency will be retiring from the Australian Public Service. Mr Carbon has made a significant contribution to the portfolio during his period as Executive Director.
For further comment contact Matt Brown on (06) 277 7640 or 0419 693 515.