The Commissioner is an independent statutory position which undertakes the following functions and activities:
- investigates complaints about the management of the environment by the Territory or a Territory authority
- conducts investigations as directed by the Minister
- initiates investigations into actions of an agency where those actions would have a substantial impact on the environment of the ACT
- produces state of the environment reports for the ACT and the 17 councils in the Australian Capital Region
- makes recommendations for consideration by government and includes in our annual report the outcomes of those recommendations
- resolves issues through mediation and conflict resolution
- undertakes an advocacy and awareness role on sustainability and environmental issues
Recent amendments to the Act
Amendments to broaden the scope of the Commissioner for the Environment Act 1993 took effect on 29 May 2012.
NEW PROVISIONS: COMMISSIONER FOR SUSTAINABILITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT ACT 1993.
Section 1 Name of the Act – Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment Act 1993
Section 2B Objects of Act – the objects of the Act are to:
- Ensure regular and consistent reporting on matters relating to the condition and management of the environment in the Territory; and
- Ensure regular reporting on progress towards ecologically sustainable development by the Territory and Territory authorities; and
- Encourage decision making that facilities ecologically sustainable development; and
- Enhance knowledge and understanding of issues relating to ecologically sustainable development and the environment; and
- Encourage sound environmental practices and procedures to be adopted by the Territory and Territory authorities as a basis for ecologically sustainable development.
Section 4 Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment - the Minister must appoint a person as the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment.
Section 12 – Functions – The Commissioners functions include an additional function (1)(a)(ii) issues relating to ecologically sustainable development in the ACT.
Section 13 – Complaints-An additional subject for complaint (13 (1)(b)) issues relating to ecologically sustainable development in the ACT.
Section 19 – State of the environment reports – 19(3) the Minister must within 6 months after the day of receiving a state of environment report present to the Legislative Assembly a statement that sets out the response of the government to the report. There is no longer scope for the Minister to present a statement to the Assembly giving reasons for why he is not presenting a response to a state of environment report to the Assembly, as was the case under the old Act.
Section 21 - Special reports – under 21 (2) the Minister must within 6 months after the day of receiving a special report (a special report is a report in relation to an investigation that the Minister has directed the Commissioner to conduct, or a report in relation to an investigation initiated by the commissioner and conducted into an issue of environmental significance to the Territory) present to the Legislative Assembly a statement that sets out the response of the government to the report.
What does an objects clause do?
This clause indicates the object that the legislature intended to achieve by enacting a particular piece of legislation. It is influential in guiding the interpretation and the administration of the legislation by decision-makers.
Our Office consists of a full time Commissioner, two Senior Managers; two Project Officers and an Office Manager.
Our vision captures our commitment to assist the community and government to undertake actions advancing sustainability and environmental security. This is achieved through advocacy, independent scrutiny, reporting and advice.
Advancing sustainability and environmental security through advocacy, independent scrutiny, reporting and advice.
Our values guide our work; our behaviours; and the way we interact with each other and our stakeholders.
Our values are:
- Independence - we empower through objectivity, transparent processes, honest delivery and appropriate confidentiality.
- Caring – our high regard for the environment and our community sustains our efforts.
- Innovation –we seek to use the best available knowledge to pursue solutions that may not be evident or even exist yet.
- Empathy – we have realistic approaches in recognising the realities faced by the individuals and organisations we engage with.
- Collaboration – we take an integrated and inclusive approach.
Events and thoughts from the OCSE’s 20 Years
Today – Monday July 1, 2013 - the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment celebrates 20 years in existence. This significant milestone has been due to the work and dedication of many staff, volunteers and community members. We are happy to share the celebration with you.
The Commissioner, Robert Neil speaks to former ACT Minister for Environment, Land & Planning Mr Bill Wood AM about the Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability & the Environments' 20 years.
Leading the Way: 20 years of the ACT Environment Commissioner
Environment Commissioners and Ministers Past and Present - Celebrate 20 Years of the Office
Left to Right: Prof Kate Auty, Victorian Environmental Sustainability Commissioner, Mr Bob Neil ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Mr Bill Wood AM, Mr Simon Corbell MLA, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Dr Joe Baker Inaugural Commissioner and Mr Shane Rattenbury MLA, Minister for Territory and Municipal Services.
Bill Wood AM Launching the 20 year history " Leading the Way".
Left to right -Cutting the Birthday cake inaugural Commissioner Dr Joe Baker, current Commissioner Mr Bob Neil and ex Commissioner Dr Rosemary Purdie.
Left to right Current Commissioner Mr Bob Neil, Victorian Environmental Sustainability Commissioner Prof Katy Auty and Minister Shane Rattenbury.