ACT Government Responses to Recommendations
This 2003 State of the Environment Report is the fifth produced for the ACT. Previous ACT reports were prepared in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2000. These reports also contributed to Regional State of the Environment Reports for the Australian Capital Region.
The production of an ACT State of the Environment Report is a requirement of the Commissioner for the Environment Act 1993 . The Commissioner may make recommendations to the Government arising from the assessment of a range of indicators. In this report the Commissioner has made twenty-five recommendations in for the following areas: air quality; climate change and greenhouse; conserving biodiversity; catchment quality; resource use; and community wellbeing. Furthermore the Commissioner has reported on progress towards sustainability.
The Commissioner has found that the ACT remained a great place to live during the reporting period, despite substantial impacts on the environment resulting from the extreme events during the reporting period, such as the bushfires, drought, heavy rains and dust storms. The Commissioner has made through his recommendations a range of constructive suggestions about how we may continue to improve our environmental performance.
In accordance with the Act the 2003 State of the Environment Report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on 31 March 2004. The preparation and presentation to the Assembly of a response by the Government is also a requirement of the Act.
This report is the final of five State of the Environment Reports prepared by the inaugural Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Joe Baker. Dr Baker retired from the position on 31 March 2004.
Recommendation 2003.1: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should use mobile air quality monitoring to measure and record air quality at busy intersections, near known point sources, and in other parts of Canberra that may be susceptible to high levels of airborne particles and other pollutants
The ACT Government currently operates two major air quality monitoring stations, which have recently been upgraded to measure particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5). An additional $50,000 has been set aside in 2004–05 to purchase additional monitoring equipment. It is envisaged that this equipment will be periodically relocated to give a more detailed understanding of particulate pollution across Canberra taking account of busy intersections, known point sources and areas that may be susceptible to high levels of airborne particles and other pollutants. Mobile air quality monitoring equipment would require substantial additional investment.
Recommendation 2003.2: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should examine how indoor air quality may be monitored in the ACT
ACT Health undertakes routine monitoring of air pollutants in the ambient environment. Indoor air quality is monitored on a case-by-case basis if a specific issue is identified in the ACT, as in all jurisdictions in Australia. For example, the ACT Health Protection Service recently undertook an examination of indoor air with special reference to environmental tobacco smoke. Indoor air quality is not routinely monitored in Australia.
The Environmental Health Council (enHealth) has established a working party to examine indoor air quality issues on a national basis. Recommendations from this working party are expected in 2004–05. The ACT is represented on this Council, and is participating in its deliberations on indoor air quality.
Recommendation 2003.3: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should promote and provide incentives for the use of low-emission vehicles by Government agencies
The Government is in the process of leasing a fleet of 25 hybrid low emission vehicles on a trial basis for evaluation. While there are supply difficulties, the ACT Government already has proportionately more hybrid vehicles in its passenger fleet than any other state or territory government or the Commonwealth.
The Government has entered into an initial one-year agreement with Greenfleet to offset vehicle carbon dioxide emissions for its entire passenger fleet by planting approximately 20,000 extra trees.
Recommendation 2003.4: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should immediately develop and resource long-term research and monitoring programs of at least 30 years duration into post-fire recovery of terrestrial and aquatic components of natural and modified Conserving Biodiversity ecosystems as part of a joint program with other research providers in States affected by fire
The Government has developed a foundation for long-term monitoring of post-fire response and recovery of vegetation in the ACT. Field surveys have commenced in Namadgi National Park. Established aquatic monitoring programs are also being continued. Links with other agencies, particularly through the Australian Alps Agreement, are being reinforced.
Recommendation 2003.5: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should seek funding for the long-term research in recommendation 2003.4 from the Commonwealth Government on the basis of the National Research Priority 'an environmentally sustainable Australia', announced in December 2002
The Minister for the Environment wrote in December 2003 to the Commonwealth Minister proposing a national on-line information base to assist in the overall fire research effort. The Commissioner's recommendation will be taken up in subsequent discussions with the Commonwealth.
Natural Heritage Trust funds were secured in July 2003 for post-fire audit and monitoring.
Recommendation 2003.6: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should implement an appropriate post-fire works and management program to protect water supply catchment, aquatic habitat and nature conservation values of the upper Cotter River, Murrumbidgee and Molonglo River valleys, and their tributaries
Expert advice is being provided on the most appropriate post-fire works and management program to protect water supply catchments. Advice received thus far has emphasised that it will be a long-term recovery process. Significant works have been undertaken in the water supply catchments. These works include rehabilitation of roads, tracks and stream banks, removal of sediment slugs and stabilisation of undercut bank areas, rehabilitation of sphagnum bogs and replacement of damaged monitoring infrastructure. Monitoring of the aquatic environment has increased with cooperative research measuring sediment loads and sediment movement, and fish and macroinvertebrate occurrence.
Research workshops have been undertaken to enable researchers in the post-bushfire catchment to interact and access other work.
Works undertaken outside the water supply catchments include road, track and stream bank stabilisation and revegetation.
The Government has undertaken aerial seeding in some of the burnt areas that were previously under production forestry management. The aim is to stabilise soil and reduce erosion. A monitoring program is being developed with the CRC for Freshwater Ecology for water quality.
Strategic planning by Government land management agencies has resulted in a significant fraction of roads being identified to be removed to reduce potential sediment loads. Riparian zones within forestry land have also been reviewed and increased relative to landform.
Substantial revegetation programs are underway in collaboration with Greening Australia and other community groups.
Recommendation 2003.7: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should assess the contributions of existing ACT Government pest plant control programs to achieving pest plant control, biodiversity conservation, and catchment management objectives and, if appropriate, trial alternative programs
The ACT Weeds Strategy outlines principles for determining priority weed control programs. The Government reports annually on implementation progress. A Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy being prepared to support delivery of the ACT Natural Resource Management Plan will provide a framework for assessing weed control program outcomes against natural resource management objectives.
Specific management plans have been developed for declared pest plant species and include targets for control over the next five years. Annual weed programs aim to ensure progress is made against these targets.
The Government will discuss with the Commissioner the establishment of a long-term study to further examine the contribution of pest plant control programs to achieving biodiversity conservation and catchment management objectives.
Recommendation 2003.8: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should undertake a catchment-by-catchment hydrological study of groundwater systems to assess water quality and quantity and its connectivity, spatial distribution and temporal variability
Environment ACT has commissioned groundwater studies on nine individual subcatchments. Further studies will be undertaken within other subcatchments as required.
Recommendation 2003.9: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should extend existing policy and management plans to include extreme event scenarios
In the light of recent of recent fire and drought events in particular, the Government is paying particular attention to accommodating the implications of these events in policy and management planning. This includes active collaboration at a national level.
Recommendation 2003.10: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should adopt the six recommendations in the ACT Greenhouse Strategy: 2002 Review of performance and options for the future, released in March 2003
On the 23 June 2004, Ms Tucker MLA and representative of the ACT Greens political party moved the following motion in the ACT Legislative Assembly: That this Assembly calls on the Government to:
- reaffirm the Territory's commitment to meeting the Greenhouse Gas Reduction target of reducing net greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2008, and reducing them by 20% by 2018; and to this end;
- commit to:
- introduce Greenhouse Benchmarks as a Retail Licence Condition for electricity retailers, in line with NSW;
- introduce a no-interest, low-interest or CPI-interest only loan scheme to facilitate house owners increasing the energy efficiency of their properties, and installing solar water heating, with particular attention to landlords;
- introduce an energy efficiency and water use rating system for commercial buildings, drawing on the best available Australian models;
- develop a program to retrofit current public housing to four star energy ratings in the short term, aiming for five stars in the medium term;
- introduce annual targets specifically for greenhouse emissions from transport in the ACT; and
- establish an additional dedicated position within Environment ACT (or other appropriate agency) to drive implementation of government targets and timelines for government agency reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
This motion was passed, with the support of Mr Brendan Smyth MLA, Ms Vicki Dunne MLA, Mr Steve Pratt MLA, Mr Bill Stefaniak MLA, Mr Greg Cornwell MLA and Ms Jacqui Burke MLA from the ACT Liberal Party; Ms Roslyn Dundas MLA from the Australian Democrats Party; and Ms Helen Cross, an Independent member.
The Government opposed the motion.
The Government is currently considering the implications of this motion. The cost of implementation is estimated at $114 million. The Government is also concerned that the motion has no scientific basis and was passed with no community consultation and may have no community support.
Recommendation 2003.11: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should put in place a reliable system for long-term uninterrupted weather monitoring in the ACT's water supply catchments
There are currently complete weather stations located at Bendora Reservoir, Corin Reservoir, and Googong Reservoir. A fourth weather station at Pierce's Creek was damaged during the January 2003 bushfires and has now been repaired. Work is currently underway to permit centralised, on-line recovery of data collected by these stations.
Recommendation 2003.12: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should ensure lower income groups have access to appropriate affordable housing
The need for affordable housing as part of a housing system that delivers choice to the community has been long recognised by the Government, and 'housing a future Canberra' is a key outcome area of the Social Plan.
The Government is committed to addressing affordability issues across the broad spectrum from homelessness and the risk of homelessness at one end, through to public and community housing, private rental and home ownership.
The Government is also committed to maintaining current levels of public housing, and has announced that an additional $33.2 million will be spent on housing. Of this, $20 million will be spent to purchase an additional 60 houses for public housing stock, $7 million will be spent to purchase approximately 20 houses for community housing stock, giving tenants a greater choice of accommodation options and $3 million will be spent for capital purposes for community housing.
Significantly, $3.2 million has been allocated for housing options, including an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Boarding house, to enable the Government to implement an important recommendation of Breaking the Cycle - The ACT Homelessness Strategy .
The Government, through its responses to the work of the Affordable Housing Taskforce, has announced a comprehensive and wide reaching package of measures designed to address declining levels of housing affordability.
The Government, through its work with the community in developing Breaking the Cycle - the ACT Homelessness Strategy , agreed to 82 actions to address the needs of those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and committed $13.4 million over four years, and on going funding in the out years, to establish a range of emergency accommodation services and supports for those most in need. New services have been funded for families with children, including single parent families headed by men, single people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and people exiting the criminal justice system.
Additional initiatives to improve housing affordability were funded in the 2004-05 budget. These initiatives include: ·
- $1.6 million for emergency accommodation
- an additional $20 million for affordable housing options
- reductions in the tax burden on private rental properties through changes to the threshold limits for land tax
- ?revising the eligibility criteria for stamp duty concessions
- targeting new land releases of 500 blocks over five years for first home buyers and people on low to moderate incomes
Recommendation 2003.13: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should implement programs aimed at reducing gaps in health outcomes for Aboriginal people
The ACT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Forum, a joint forum with membership from Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service, the ACT Government and the Australian Government, is currently developing a new ACT Health Plan for 2004-08.
A three-year funding agreement has been negotiated and signed with Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (2004–05 to 2006–07), for the provision of an expanded Aboriginal Midwifery Access Service, a Hearing Health Program, a Dental Health Program, a Mental Health Liaison Service, a Dual Diagnosis Program, and a Youth Detoxification Support Service.
Refurbishment of the Narrabundah Health Centre has commenced to prepare for the relocation of Winnunga Nimmityjah from Ainslie to Narrabundah in late 2004.
A feasibility study is being undertaken into the development of a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation service in the ACT that is tailored to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. The service will use national and international models of drug and alcohol rehabilitation to inform the process.
A Health Information Project has commenced, to address problems with the availability and quality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health information and statistics in the ACT. The project will improve the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Unit's ability to meet its national reporting obligations, and establish a repository for the ongoing collection of evidence to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy development.
Recommendation 2003.14: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should assist support services and facilities to keep pace with the increasing demands of an ageing population
The Government implemented the Building for Our Ageing Community strategy in December 2003. This strategy will address issues surrounding aged persons' accommodation in the ACT in the short term and for the next ten years and beyond.
The ACT Office for Ageing, within the Chief Minister's Department, is also facilitating a whole-of-government approach to implementing the Government's commitments in the Plan for Older Canberrans , which includes the key themes of affordable housing and accommodation, the knowledge capital, fairness in the workplace, health and community care, respite care, elder abuse prevention, transport, and concessions for seniors.
Older persons' housing has been a priority for the Government. More than 10% of public housing properties are designated for older persons. Some 45 units designated for people of pensionable age have been delivered since the 2001-02 financial years. This program will ultimately deliver a further 200 units by the end of 2006.
In addition, expenditure under the disability modification program has increased substantially and responds to the needs of existing elderly tenants, allowing them to ‘age in place'. Expenditure on this program was around $1.5 million in the 2003–04 financial year and similar levels of expenditure are expected to be achieved in 2004–05. Around 90 major modifications were carried out in 2003–04, together with close to 300 more minor but significant modifications. All modifications have assisted older tenants to remain in their homes.
The Government has also established an eight-person supportive accommodation unit (known as Betty Searle House) on the south side of the ACT. Betty Searle House was opened on 23 March 2004 and provides affordable, secure housing for women who are older than 55 years and have experienced family breakdown, including domestic violence or elder abuse.
The Government also funds the Council for the Ageing (COTA) to provide an Older Persons Housing Advisor to assist older people to access appropriate housing options.
Older people with a disability (aged 55 upwards) are also identified as a specific target group for improved arrangements in Disability ACT's four-year planning document, Future Directions: A Framework for the ACT 2004–2008 .
Under the 2003–08 Australian Health Care Agreements (AHCA), the Commonwealth Government will contribute $5.2 million in funding under the Pathways Home Program initiative to assist in the construction costs of a 60-bed sub-acute facility for rehabilitation and older person's special needs in the ACT and surrounding region. The facility will be located at Calvary Hospital, and a master plan for the development of the facility has begun.
The services to be provided through this new facility will address the needs of patients—particularly older patients—following hospitalisation. The aim is to maximise quality of life and independence and to enable greater confidence in returning home following hospital treatment. The facility will also provide enhanced care for older people who require hospital care for dementia and other related illnesses.
Funding was allocated in the 2003–04 Respite Budget Initiative to call for an open tender for the trial of a centralised booking and assessment service with the Home and Community Care (HACC) program, and for recurrent funding of innovative respite services. Respite care support and services will be provided to aged people, people with a disability, people with a mental illness, and people with chronic care needs due to injury, illness, or drug and alcohol use with a mental illness. The initiative will also provide Overnight Respite Care Service for aged and younger people with disabilities from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
ACT Health is working with the Commonwealth Government on an intermittent care proposal, which will focus on restorative care for older people who do not require acute care.
Recommendation 2003.15: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should increase professional development and employment opportunities for the young and disadvantaged
The ACT Government continues to fund the training of Apprentices and Trainees during times of near-record growth. Opportunities in the Building Industry have increased, offering real training opportunities to young people. The combination of work and training in the New Apprenticeship scheme builds skills and knowledge.
Disadvantaged groups figure significantly in training programs offered by the Department of Education and Training. The recent grants allocated under the Special Purpose Program features a wide range of training options for disadvantaged groups. The Adult and Community Education (ACE) grants provide further funding for disadvantaged ACT citizens.
The Government is establishing a new initiative with a focus on skills development for youth at risk. This was signalled in the Economic White paper as Recommendation 34 and within action 5.1 in The Social Plan . Individual case management and special training programs form the basis of this new approach to mentoring youth at risk. The contract process has been completed and the recruitment of suitable personnel is being finalised.
Recommendation 2003.16: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should improve access to support services and provide dedicated acute care, day and long-stay accommodation for children and adolescents with a mental illness
The ACT Mental Health Strategy and Action Plan 2003–08 outlines the need to investigate the accommodation and inpatient options for young people. The strategy focuses on improving the partnerships between the community and Government sector, and planning effectively for the provision of these services.
Specific actions included in the Plan relevant to this recommendation include:
- establishing a plan and feasibility study to assess the demand for inpatient services, including child and adolescent inpatient services
- enhancing coordination between inpatient and community-based mental health services
- establishing a peer support system for young people and their families experiencing their first admission within a mental health inpatient facility
- improving the awareness and understanding of mental health issues in accommodation providers
- collaboration with government and community agencies to ensure equitable access to supported accommodation for consumers with mental illness
- more active specialist mental health support for accommodation providers, where consumers with mental illness reside.
The Government provided $60,000 in the 2004–05 budget for a feasibility study into the provision of a child and adolescent inpatient unit. Funding of $105,000 was also allocated in the 2002–03 Respite Care Budget Initiative for Carers of People with a Mental Illness (COPMI). This funding has now been made recurrent.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service has a day program which caters for adolescents with moderate to severe mental illnesses. This program runs during school terms, and provides educational, group and individual therapy to all students.
The Eating Disorders Unit also runs a part time day program for young people suffering from an eating disorder. The program runs for three half-days per week and includes group therapy and meal supervision.
Recommendation 2003.17: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should implement the Sustainable Transport Plan ‘principles for managing change’ in the Draft Canberra Spatial Plan and manage parking to assist in achieving sustainable transport outcomes
The ACT Government has released The Sustainable Transport Plan and is funding priority projects in the 2004–05 budget.
The Sustainable Transport Plan provides the direction and actions to maintain the high levels of accessibility of Canberra and at the same time achieve a shift towards a more sustainable transport system over the next 20 to 30 years. With this plan, Canberra will achieve a transport system that has lower overall costs, particularly lower greenhouse gas emissions, lower air pollution, reduced accidents and lower health costs, and more transport options for the community. The proposed transport system will also support the achievement of the economic and social goals for Canberra as outlined in the Canberra Plan. Key elements of The Sustainable Transport Plan feature in the Canberra Spatial Plan , and complement the Government’s Sustainability Framework and Greenhouse Strategy . The Sustainable Transport Plan also helps deliver on the nationally adopted Charter for Integrated Transport and Land Use Planning.
The ACT Government has funded the priority initiatives under The Sustainable Transport Plan in the 2004–05 budget. These initiatives include:
- design of a busway from Belconnen to Civic
- construction of the first stage and design of further stages of a busway from Gungahlin to Civic.
These busway projects will include initiatives such as real time information system for Canberra’s public transport system and the development of new interchanges and stations on these routes. The Sustainable Transport Plan recognises the need to manage parking effectively to achieve its goals. The Government has initiated a study of parking strategies and policies to provide Government with recommendations about parking management policies. These parking management policies are one component of a series of interdependent implementation actions in The Sustainable Transport Plan .
Other relevant components of The Sustainable Transport Plan include a proposal to encourage the use of low-emission vehicles and the purchase of low-emission vehicles for the ACT Government fleet.
Recommendation 2003.18: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should develop data records for Community Participation and Heritage that meet needs for reporting purposes, including State of the Environment and State of Heritage reports
The ACT Government recently released the sustainability report Measuring our progress - Canberra’s journey to sustainability . This report used 29 headline and 50 supplementary indicators to measure progress towards sustainability. Indicators on volunteering, participation in cultural events, participation in physical activity and contact with family and friends were included in this report.
The data for these indicators was sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and provided a baseline from which to measure community participation in the ACT. As future reports are prepared there may be scope to conduct more detailed research into community participation with regards to people with disabilities and the Indigenous community.
Recommendation 2003.19: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should ensure that biodiversity conservation is always integral to ACT Government planning and management of landuse changes, post-fire recovery programs, and fire prevention programs such as fuel hazard reduction programs, expansion and management of the fire-trail network, creation of fire protection zones
In planning for changes in land use or management practices, the Government places a high priority on ensuring that biodiversity conservation requirements are fully considered in the planning and land management projects and processes.
The Fire Management Unit (Department of Urban Services), responsible for strategic planning, technical advice and coordination of fire fuel management, consults with biodiversity experts to ensure its activities adequately address biodiversity conservation issues.
Recommendation 2003.19: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should provide appropriate resources and support for improving the comprehensive, adequate and representative system of protected lowland woodland and grasslands in the ACT as outlined in the Draft Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy (as detailed in the priority tasks of Table 6.2 of the Strategy), and for ongoing management of these ecosystems
The Government announced in the 2003–04 Budget allocation of $1.67 million over three years for implementing priorities identified in the Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy. Two new rangers have been appointed, about 1000 hectares of woodland is being protected in new nature reserves, an education kit for primary schools has been produced, and weed control programs have targeted woodlands.
A native grassland conservation strategy is being prepared in 2003–04. This will examine the conservation priorities for native grasslands and the threatened species that inhabit them.
Recommendation 2003.21: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should stimulate and reward innovations to minimise resource use identified in outcomes in The Draft Canberra Spatial Plan, The Economic White Paper, the ACT Greenhouse Strategy: 2002 Review of performance and options for the future, the No Waste by 2010 Strategy and Think water, act water
Sustainability underpins and provides a long-term strategic direction for The Canberra Plan . The Canberra Spatial Plan has as a prime objective the creation of a more contained city in order to limit urban sprawl and make better use of resources. The Economic White Paper creates a Commercialisation Fund, which will target innovative technologies and support the government’s sustainability agenda. The Commercialisation Fund will complement the existing Knowledge Fund, which includes a sustainability assessment criterion.
The Canberra Plan objectives are further supported through fostering new economic activity associated with resource recovery, through empowering all sectors of the community to regard unwanted materials as resources with value, and through influencing Canberra’s development to enable best practice waste management.
ACT NOWaste has established the No Waste Awards for excellence in waste reduction. The Awards are open to all schools, businesses, government departments and community organisations in the ACT, which have actively implemented waste minimisation initiatives.
The No Waste Awards will not only encourage innovative solutions in waste reduction, but will also serve to promote innovative ideas which can be adopted by others.
The Government sponsors a Housing Industry Association award for best environmental practice and a Master Builders’ Association award for energy efficiency.
The Water Resources Strategy Think water, act water identifies rewards for innovations and actions to reduce water use. For example appropriate rebates for water efficiency measures. (Some funding for these rebates has been already provided in the third Appropriation Bill, and follow on funding is being sought through the normal Government budget processes.)
The 2004 Budget contained an initiative of $1.2 million over four years to fund a new home energy efficiency incentive scheme as part of the ACT Greenhouse Strategy . This is in addition to the existing solar hot water rebate scheme.
Recommendation 2003.22: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should, under section 158A of the Environment Protection Act 1997, report on the effectiveness of innovations implemented as a result of recommendation 2003.21
Innovations to minimise resource use are considered actions that support ecologically sustainable development, and therefore reporting on such innovations is already accommodated under section 158A of the Environment Protection Act 1997 .
Following Government approval and consultation with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, the 2004 Annual Report Directions was tabled in the Assembly in June 2004.
In relation to Ecologically Sustainable Development, the 2004 Annual Report Directions has enhanced reporting requirements and include:
Section 158A of the Environment Protection Act 1997 requires agencies to report on agency actions and initiatives taken during the reporting year to support ecologically sustainable development. This requirement is also reinforced by the Government’s People, Place, Prosperity, A Policy for Sustainability in the ACT (March 2003), which emphasises the importance of the ecological dimension of sustainability, along with the social and economic dimensions.
A list of information required is also included.
Recommendation 2003.23: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should identify and implement those water use and efficiency initiatives which will yield the greatest environmental, social and economic benefits
The Government has committed over $15 million of new funding over the next four years to water resources management.
- $5 million to achieving environmental objectives for improved river health in the Murray Darling Basin as part of the National Water Initiative
- $816,000 to improved catchment management
- $180,000 to catchment repair following the fires
- $954,000 for riparian habitat repair
- $8.7 million in the 2003–04 third appropriation and 2004–05 budget to implementing the ACT Water Resources Strategy, Think water, act water , which identifies water use and efficiency measures targeting the domestic, commercial and government sectors as well as providing a public information and awareness campaign.
Recommendation 2003.24: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should apply the revenue raised through the water abstraction charge directly to catchment management and water efficiency programs
Directly applying the revenue raised through the water abstraction charge to catchment management and water efficiency programs is inconsistent with the Government's policy of no hypothecation of revenue.
The water abstraction charge reflects those costs associated with water supply, use and management which are not directly faced by ACTEW. The water abstraction charge is calculated by estimating water supply costs and flow costs.
However the Government has made substantial investment in water resource management (as discussed at 2003.23) and in this financial year it is expected to exceed total funds collected through the water abstraction charge.
Recommendation 2003.25: In consultation with the ACT Office of the Commissioner for the Environment, the ACT Government should provide sufficient funding to achieve asset management standards for existing infrastructure; and ensure new infrastructure supports sustainable resource use
The Department of Urban Services has developed a Best Practice Guide for asset management to assist managers and staff to achieve asset management standards for existing infrastructure.
In 2004–05 the Property Forum, an inter-agency group established to coordinate ACT Government property matters, will coordinate the preparation of a comprehensive asset management report on the ACT's property assets.
The Government released two important asset management strategies in 2003–04. The first was the Public Housing Asset Management Strategy. The strategy will ensure that all of the 11,500 public housing properties are strategically managed for the ACT Government. This includes acquisitions, disposals, and refurbishment of properties to align the portfolio with changing social structures and tenant and prospective tenant needs. The assets will also be managed to respond to environmental standards particularly in the areas of energy and water efficiency.
The strategy protects the Territory’s investment in its public housing assets, including management of the preventative and regular maintenance and upgrade programs.
The Government also announced the Community Services Facilities Management Strategy for the 33 community facilities it owns and makes available to the community. That strategy includes a set of principles, that are: the facilities exist to support the community, that asset planning and management are an integral part of financial planning, to ensure efficient management of the asset in alignment with Government policy and that there should be effective internal controls for management and planning of assets. The strategy also requires that asset management decisions meet the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations, and that as the facilities are owned on behalf of the community, all aspects of maintenance, planning, renewal, acquisition and disposal of assets should be transparent to the community.
The Government is increasingly maximising the reuse or recycling of materials in all refurbishments to reduce the requirement for new materials and thereby reduced energy consumption required in their manufacture. For example, the demolished concrete from the Higgins shops refurbishment was used as road base at the site.
The Government Procurement (Principles) Guideline 2002 includes a provision that Territory entities must consider environmental sustainability in the procurement of goods, services or works. The ACT Government Procurement Board has issued Environmentally Sustainable Procurement Circular – 2004/07 to provide guidance to Territory entities in meeting this requirement.