In November 1997, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed in principle to the Heads of Agreement on Commonwealth/State Roles and Responsibilities for the Environment. Subsequently, all heads of governments and the Australian Local Government Association signed the agreement.
In the agreement, the States and Territories and the Commonwealth agreed that reform in the following five areas was needed to develop a more effective framework for intergovernmental relations on the environment:
- matters of National Environmental Significance;
- environmental assessment and approval processes;
- listing, protection and management of heritage places;
- compliance with State environmental and planning legislation; and
- better delivery of national environmental programmes.
A number of key aspects of the Heads of Agreement have been implemented by the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Heads of agreement on Commonwealth/State roles and responsibilities for the environment between the:
- Commonwealth of Australia;
- State of New South Wales;
- State of Victoria;
- State of Queensland;
- State of Western Australia;
- State of South Australia;
- State of Tasmania;
- Australian Capital Territory;
- Northern Territory of Australia; and
- Australian Local Government Association.
The Parties acknowledge that, subject to the resolution of outstanding issues, it is desirable for the matters set out in this Agreement to be reflected in amendments to the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE). However, the Parties agree that implementation of this Agreement should not be delayed by the formal process of amending the IGAE.
For the purpose of this Agreement, 'State(s)' means a State or Territory named as a party to this Agreement.
- Agree on the need for reform in the following five areas to develop a more effective framework for intergovernmental relations on the environment:
- matters of National Environmental Significance;
- environmental assessment and approval processes;
- listing, protection and management of heritage places;
- compliance with State environmental and planning legislation;
- better delivery of national environmental programs.
- Agree that a national partnership between all levels of government on environment issues must be based on the following principles:
- co-operation -
the achievement of environmental goals should be enhanced by increased co-operative efforts between the different levels of government and with stakeholders;
- effectiveness -
policy and program development and implementation should be undertaken to achieve improved environmental outcomes on the ground;
- efficiency -
unnecessary duplication and overlap between governments should be minimised;
- seamlessness -
policies and programs within and between governments should be designed and administered to ensure that clients experience integrated processes and interfaces;
- simplicity -
administrative and legislative systems should be simple to understand and designed to minimise
compliance costs; and
- transparency -
decision-making processes, accountability for decisions and delivery of policy and program outcomes should be clear and public.
- co-operation -
Policy development, program delivery and decision-making should be the responsibility of the level of government best placed to deliver agreed outcomes.
- Agree that the Commonwealth's involvement in environmental matters should focus on matters of national environmental significance as identified in Attachment 1 to this document.
- Agree that, in relation to proposals in which the Commonwealth and a State(s) have an interest, the Commonwealth's environmental assessment and approval processes should only be triggered by proposals which may have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance as identified in Part I of Attachment 1.
- Note that there is disagreement on how the triggers will operate in relation to nationally endangered and vulnerable species and endangered ecological communities, and places of national heritage significance.
- Note the intention of the Commonwealth to introduce legislation to remove the existing ad hoc and indirect triggers and replace them with triggers based on national environmental significance and to consult the States in the development and amendment of this legislation. This legislation will not come into effect prior to 1 July 1998.
- Note that the triggers for national environmental significance will require further definition through the Commonwealth's legislative review process.
- Note that the Commonwealth may apply its assessment and approval processes to meet its own obligations on the matters of national environmental significance identified in Attachment 1.
- Note that the Commonwealth also has interests and obligations for a range of other matters of national environmental significance in Part II of Attachment 1, but these are not triggers for the purpose of this clause.
- Note that the Commonwealth undertakes that it will not vary or add to the matters identified in Part 1 of Attachment 1 other than in consultation with the States.
- Agree that the environmental assessment and approval processes relating to matters of national environmental significance should be streamlined with the objectives of:
- relying on State processes as the preferred means of assessing proposals;
- limiting Commonwealth decisions to only those aspects of proposals concerning matters of national environmental significance;
- establishing a timely, efficient and co-operative process for dealing with proposals; and
- providing for the development of Commonwealth/State bilateral agreements which will enable accreditation of State processes and, in appropriate cases, State decisions (for example, agreed management plans) under Commonwealth legislation (and vice versa), noting that the Commonwealth legislation will not come into effect before 1 July 1998.
The agreed framework for reform is set out in Attachment 2.
- Agree to the rationalisation of the existing Commonwealth/State arrangements for the identification, protection and management of places of heritage significance through the development, within twelve months, of a co-operative national heritage places strategy which will:
- set out the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States;
- identify criteria, standards and guidelines, as appropriate, for the protection of heritage by each level of government;
- provide for the establishment of a list of places of national heritage significance; and
- maximise Commonwealth compliance with State heritage and planning laws.
- Note that indigenous heritage issues are being addressed in a separate process and are not covered by this Agreement.
- Agree to increased compliance by Commonwealth and State departments, statutory authorities, agencies, business enterprises and tenants with the relevant State's environment and planning laws in accordance with Attachment 3.
- Agree to establish more effective and efficient delivery mechanisms and accountability regimes for national environmental programmes of shared interest in accordance with Attachment 4.
- Agree that the parties will seek to resolve, out-of-session, the outstanding issues on how the triggers for the Commonwealth's environmental assessment and approval process will operate in relation to nationally endangered and vulnerable species and endangered ecological communities, and places of national heritage significance, and the scope of these triggers.
- Note that these triggers will not come into operation before 1 January 1999.
- Agree that nothing in this Agreement will affect any arrangements entered into, at any time, as part of a Regional Forest Agreement.
- Note the 1996 COAG endorsement of the outcomes of the Review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE) which required examination and reporting on ways to ensure that the role played by Local Government in environmental management receives increased recognition and better implementation in terms of the IGAE and that Local Government's role and involvement in processes to progress the objectives of the IGAE are clarified.
The Honourable John Winston Howard MP
Prime Minister of Australia
The Honourable Robert John Carr MP
Premier of the State of New South Wales
The Honourable Jeffrey Gibb Kennett MLA
Premier of the State of Victoria
The Honourable Peter Douglas Beattie MLA
Premier of the State of Queensland
The Honourable Richard Fairfax Court MLA
Premier of the State of Western Australia
The Honourable John Wayne Olsen MP
Premier of the State of South Australia
The Honourable Anthony Maxwell Rundle MP
Premier of the State of Tasmania
Kate Carnell MLA
Chief Minister of the Australian Capital Territory
The Honourable Shane L Stone QC MLA
Chief Minister of the Northern Territory of Australia
Councillor John Ross
President of the Australian Local Government Association
Matters of National Environmental Significance
For the purpose of this Attachment -
'Commonwealth responsibility' relates to meeting the obligations of those international agreements referred to and/or the administration of relevant Commonwealth legislation. Those responsibilities may be discharged in co-operation and/or consultation with the other parties to this Agreement.
'Commonwealth interest' relates to initiating or participating in the development of co-operative approaches for dealing with environmental problems, the establishment and delivery of programmes, and the provision of funding. Commonwealth interests may vary, from time to time, in relation to the particular matters of interest and the level of Commonwealth involvement.
1. World Heritage properties
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
2. Ramsar listed wetlands
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention).
3. Places of national significance
Commonwealth and State Heritage Ministers (and relevant Environment Ministers) have agreed to develop a co-operative national heritage places strategy. This strategy will: (i) set out the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States; (ii) identify criteria, standards and guidelines for the protection of heritage by each level of government; and (iii) provide for the establishment of a list of places of national heritage significance. The Commonwealth's responsibility and interest will be defined thereafter.
4. Nationally endangered or vulnerable species and communities
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the objectives of the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 to promote the recovery of species and ecological communities that are endangered or vulnerable, and prevent other species and ecological communities from becoming endangered.
5. Migratory species and cetaceans
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention), the Australia/Japan Agreement for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Birds in Danger of Extinction and their Environment (JAMBA), the Australia/China Agreement for the Protection of Migratory Birds and their Environment (CAMBA), the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (International Whaling Convention) and the Whale Protection Act 1980.
6. Nuclear activities
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to the assessment and approval of mining, milling, storage and transport of uranium and the development and implementation, in consultation with the States, of codes of practice as provided under the Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978 for protecting the health and safety of the people of Australia, and the environment, from possible harmful effects associated with nuclear activities.
7. Management and protection of the marine and coastal environment
Commonwealth responsibility involves meeting obligations contained in international agreements and in Commonwealth legislation in relation to waters outside those waters under State control pursuant to the Offshore Constitutional Settlement, except where formal Commonwealth/State management arrangements are in place (e.g. specific fisheries) or where waters are under Commonwealth direct management (e.g. the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park). The Commonwealth has responsibility for control of sea dumping in Australian waters.
Commonwealth interest involves co-operation with the States to develop strategic approaches to ensure the management and protection of Australia's marine and coastal environment.
8. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing greenhouse sinks
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in co-operation with the States, through specific programmes and the development and implementation of national strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and to protect and enhance greenhouse sinks.
9. Regulation of ozone depleting substances
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting obligations contained in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to take appropriate measures to help control, limit, reduce or prevent human activities likely to have adverse effects on the ozone layer.
Commonwealth regulation involves any proposal to import/export or manufacture substances which may result in depletion of the ozone layer. Commonwealth interest relates to the implementation of the national strategy for ozone protection in co-operation with the States.
10. Conservation of biological diversity (recognising that nationally endangered or vulnerable species and communities are covered under item 4 of this Attachment)
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting obligations contained in the Convention on Biological Diversity in co-operation with the States, including under the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity and through relevant programmes.
11. Protection and management of forests
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to the development and implementation of Regional Forest Agreements and the National Forest Policy Statement, and under relevant international instruments including the Rio Statement of Forest Principles, the International Tropical Timbers Agreement, the Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Forests and Agenda 21.
As indicated in paragraph 10 of the body of this Agreement, nothing in this Agreement will affect any arrangements entered into at any time as part of a Regional Forest Agreement.
12. Genetically modified organisms which my have an adverse impact on the environment
The Commonwealth has a responsibility to regulate the import and export of genetically modified organisms under the Quarantine Act 1908 and associated Commonwealth legislation. Any Commonwealth regulatory role in relation to the development, release or use of genetically modified organisms is subject to the development of nationally agreed arrangements.
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to the development of an agreed national approach concerning the control of genetically modified organisms to ensure that they do not adversely impact on the environment.
13. Agricultural, veterinary and industrial chemicals
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to environmental safety assessment and registration of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, and notification and environmental safety assessment of industrial chemicals under the national notification and assessment schemes.
14. Matters requiring national environment protection measures
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in the development of national environmental protection measures (NEPMs) jointly with the States through the National Environment Protection Council and a responsibility to implement NEPMs in relation to Commonwealth activities and places.
15. Management of hazardous wastes relating to Commonwealth obligations arising from the Basel Convention
The Commonwealth has a responsibility in relation to meeting the obligations contained in the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention) as implemented by the Hazardous Wastes (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 concerning the regulation of activities or proposals involving the international transboundary movement and disposal (including storage) of hazardous wastes.
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to the development and implementation of co-operative approaches to minimise the risks and adverse impacts arising from the movement and disposal of hazardous wastes.
16. Access to biological resources
The Commonwealth has a responsibility in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity and to regulating the import and export of biological resources under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982, the Quarantine Act 1908 and other relevant Commonwealth legislation. Any additional future Commonwealth regulatory role will be subject to the development of nationally agreed arrangements governing access to Australia's biological resources.
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to the development and implementation of a national approach to manage access to Australia's biological resources.
17. International trade in wildlife arising from obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
The Commonwealth has a responsibility in relation to meeting Convention obligations including regulation of the import or export of species covered by the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982.
18. Development and maintenance of national environmental and heritage data sets arising from intergovernmental arrangements and international obligations
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has a statutory responsibility for the national collection of statistics.
The Commonwealth's interest includes the identification, development, maintenance and interpretation of national environmental and heritage data sets in co-operation with the States.
19. Applying uniform national emissions standards to motor vehicles
The Commonwealth has responsibility for the development and implementation of uniform national standards for vehicles when they are first used in transport in Australia. Regulation through the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 has the objective of applying standards which meet the safety and environmental quality expectations of the community. The Commonwealth will exercise its responsibilities through the mechanisms provided by the National Environment Protection Council and the Ministerial Council on Road Transport.
20. Policies and practices of a State resulting in potentially significant adverse external effects in relation to the environment of another State, where the States involved cannot resolve the problem
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to resolving interjurisdictional differences on the environment where States do not agree and the proposal is referred through mutual agreement to the Commonwealth.
21. 'National interest' environmental matters as covered by the Telecommunications Act 1997
The Commonwealth responsibility is to ensure that telecommunications infrastructure is established and maintained having regard to matters of national interest specified in the Act including matters requiring special environmental consideration by the Commonwealth.
22. Quarantine matters
The Commonwealth responsibility is in relation to the regulation of the import and export of animal and plant material into and out of Australia as provided inter alia by the Quarantine Act 1908.
The Commonwealth interest involves co-operation with the States to avoid or minimise risks to the environment arising from the import and export of animal and plant material that could contain anything that could threaten Australia's native flora or fauna and their natural environment.
23. Aviation airspace management including assessment of aircraft noise and emissions
The Commonwealth has sole responsibility for all aspects of aviation airspace management and regulation including implementation of resolutions emanating from the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
24. Natural Heritage Trust Programmes
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in implementing programmes under the Natural Heritage Trust in accordance with the Natural Heritage Trust Act 1997 and the Partnership Agreements entered into with the States and Territories.
25. Implementation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to implementation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development.
26. Nationally significant feral animals and weeds
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to the development and implementation of measures and agreed programmes to control feral animals and weeds identified in national strategies, agreements, policies and control plans.
27. Conservation of native vegetation and fauna
The Commonwealth interest involves taking programme and co-operative measures with the States and other interested parties to conserve and manage native vegetation and fauna.
28. Prevention of land and water degradation
Commonwealth interest is in the development of agreed strategies and programmes to prevent and ameliorate land and water degradation particularly in relation to transboundary problems.
29. Matters that are from time to time agreed by the Commonwealth and the States as being matters of national environmental significance
30. The Commonwealth also has a responsibility and an interest in relation to proposals on Commonwealth lands and waters and proposals which are beyond the jurisdiction of States and Territories (e.g. foreign aid proposals)
Environmental approval processes
1. The Commonwealth and States will seek to establish bilateral agreements which will replace, wherever possible and appropriate, the case-by-case assessment and approval process. Where an activity or proposal ('proposal') is within the scope of a bilateral agreement, the environmental assessment and approval process will be dealt with by the relevant State and the Commonwealth in accordance with the provisions of that agreement.
2. For proposals other than those subject to a bilateral agreement, the case-by-case assessment and approval process will be streamlined to achieve more certain, timely and open decisionmaking.
3. Bilateral agreements will provide for Commonwealth accreditation of State processes and, in appropriate cases, State decisions (for example, agreed management plans). Bilateral agreements will also provide for State accreditation of Commonwealth processes and, in appropriate cases, Commonwealth decisions.
4. In particular, bilateral agreements will:
- detail the level of Commonwealth accreditation of State practices, procedures, processes, systems, management plans or other approaches;
- as appropriate, codify decisionmaking criteria and provide for delegation or recognition of decision-making, dispute resolution, reporting, public notification, information exchange, monitoring, auditing and review of the agreements based on their operation and effectiveness; and
- detail the level of State acceptance and accreditation of Commonwealth processes and decisions.
During the formulation of such agreements, the States will have regard to the implications for Local Government.
5. Where the Commonwealth considers that a proposal:
- is not covered by a bilateral agreement; or
- if covered by a bilateral agreement, is not being dealt with by the State in accordance with that bilateral agreement;
the Commonwealth may request a State to refer the proposal to it and that proposal will be dealt with under the case-by-case process.
Case-by-Case assessment and approval
Referral to the Commonwealth
6. Where the relevant State authority is formally notified of a proposal that does not fall within the terms of any bilateral agreement and:
- involves a matter of national environmental significance as referred to in Part I of Attachment 1; or
- the State considers may involve such a matter of national environmental significance;
the State shall refer that matter to the Commonwealth as soon as practicable after formal acceptance of the notification.
The States shall, in consultation with the proponent, ensure that before referral, the nature and scope of the proposal is clear and that adequate information is provided to the Commonwealth for decision-making.
Where a State and the Commonwealth agree to a more streamlined process than the one above, this different process will apply.
7. Proponents may refer proposals directly to the Commonwealth for a determination of whether a matter of national environmental significance exists once a formal notification has been made to the relevant State agency. On receipt of the proposal, the Commonwealth will notify the State of the referral and, in consultation with the State and proponent, ensure that the nature and scope of the proposal is clear and that adequate information is provided.
8. Where adequate information is not available under paragraph 6 or 7, the Commonwealth may seek further information necessary for its deliberations.
National environmental significance determination
9. Within four weeks of any referral from a State under paragraph 6 or a proponent under paragraph 7, or the subsequent provision of any necessary further information by a State or a proponent under paragraph 8, the Commonwealth will:
- determine whether or not a matter of national environmental significance exists in relation to a proposal; and
- where a matter of national environmental significance exists, determine the scope of Commonwealth interest in the proposal and the nature and extent of involvement that the Commonwealth wishes to have in the decision-making process, including details of the decisions the Commonwealth is required to take; and
- advise the relevant State and the proponent.
If the Commonwealth does not respond within four weeks of referral, or the provision of the necessary further information, then the State may proceed with decision-making on the proposal as though a determination had been made under paragraph 12 that a matter is not of national environmental significance.
As soon as practicable after the determination, the Commonwealth will produce written reasons as to why the matter is, or is not, of national environmental significance.
10. In the case of a proposal which may involve a matter of national environmental significance which is not referred to the Commonwealth under paragraphs 6 or 7, the Commonwealth may request a State to refer a proposal to it. The State will be obliged to respond within three weeks. The Commonwealth will determine, within a total of four weeks of such notification, whether there are matters of national environmental significance in relation to the proposal. The making of a determination will be subject to the nature and scope of the proposal being clear and adequate information being provided.
11. Where a difference of opinion exists about any of the matters referred to in paragraphs 9 or 10, the Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for the matters under consideration shall use their best endeavours to resolve the issues within four weeks of the difference of opinion arising. If there is no resolution of the matter the Commonwealth Minister will, within two weeks thereafter, determine whether a matter of national environmental significance exists in relation to the proposal and:
- produce written reasons as to why the matter is, or is not, of national environmental significance; and
- give public notice of the determination, the reasons for the decision, and the details of the decision-making process including the nature and extent of Commonwealth participation; and
- prior to such publication under (ii), advise the State and the proponent of all those matters.
12. If the Commonwealth determines under paragraphs 9, 10 or 11 that there are no matters of national environmental significance in relation to a proposal, such a determination is binding in relation to environmental considerations and the proposal will be considered in accordance with State environment approval processes.
13. The parties agree that the Commonwealth determination on national environmental significance under paragraphs 9, 10 or 11 can only be reviewed in exceptional circumstances when either substantial new information has become available or where there has been a substantial and unforeseen change in circumstances which are critical, and of direct relevance, to the Commonwealth's determination. The parties agree to consult promptly in these circumstances.
Assessment and approval process
14. Where there is a determination that a matter of national environmental significance exists in relation to a proposal, the Commonwealth and the State or States concerned will, within six weeks of the determination, agree on the environmental assessment and approval process to be followed, the range of issues relating to national environmental significance matters to be addressed in the process and the timelines for the stages of the decision-making process. This will include the nature and extent to which the Commonwealth and the State(s) are to give full faith and credit to the results of these processes.
If there is no agreement within six weeks, the Commonwealth may determine, within an additional ten days, that a Commonwealth process will be followed in addition to any State process. The State(s) must be notified accordingly.
15. The Commonwealth and the States agree to legislate, as necessary, to implement this Attachment.
Prior to such legislation being introduced, each State will consult with Local Government on the implications of the provisions of this Attachment for Local Government.
The Commonwealth will ensure that its legislation provides a framework for the recognition and implementation of bilateral agreements.
Compliance with state environment and planning laws
- The States agree that all State statutory authorities, government business enterprises (GBEs), privatised organisations, departments and agencies will be subject to State environment and planning laws.
- Subject to paragraph 4, the Commonwealth agrees that the following entities will be subject to State environment and planning laws:
- all Commonwealth GBEs, non-GBE companies, statutory authorities whose primary functions are commercial, and business units;
- all non-Commonwealth tenants and persons undertaking activities on Commonwealth land;
- those Commonwealth departments, agencies and statutory authorities which elect to become subject to State environment and planning laws; and
- those Commonwealth departments, agencies and statutory authorities which are required by the Commonwealth to comply, following investigation of the feasibility of making them subject to State environment and planning laws.
- The Commonwealth will ensure that Commonwealth departments, agencies, and statutory authorities which are not covered by paragraphs 2 or 4, will operate and secure approvals in accordance with Commonwealth measures which are at least equivalent to the environment and planning laws of the State in which the Commonwealth activity or property is located. The parties agree that this would require Commonwealth departments, agencies, and statutory authorities to observe equivalent processes and procedures to those of the States. The Commonwealth will endeavour to adopt standards in managing its environmental responsibilities which reflect 'best practice' arrangements.
- The Commonwealth and the States agree that certain matters will be exempt from compliance with State environment and planning laws on national interest grounds. This exemption shall apply to:
- Specific matters relating to telecommunications, aviation airspace management including aircraft noise and engine emissions, and on-ground airport management.
- Matters agreed by the Commonwealth Minister responsible for an activity or place and the Commonwealth Environment Minister after consultation with the relevant State Minister or agency where the matter:
- would benefit from being regulated under a single national regime; and
- would be hindered significantly by differing State requirements;
- for which there are no practical alternatives.
- Matters relating to Australia's relations with other countries and international obligations, national security, national defence, and national emergencies.
- Matters agreed between the Commonwealth and the States.
- Where exemptions are permitted pursuant to this Attachment, Commonwealth activities will, as far as possible, be undertaken in a way that seeks to achieve at least the equivalent requirements of State legislation. The relevant Commonwealth Minister(s), in consultation with the Commonwealth Environment Minister, will be responsible for determining the means of achieving those requirements.
- The Commonwealth and the States agree that within two years of signing this agreement they will seek to legislate as necessary to implement this Attachment and will, as soon as practicable, amend any existing tenancy agreements necessary to give effect to this Attachment. Prior to such legislation being finalised, each State will consult with Local Government on the implications of the provisions of this Schedule for Local Government.
National environmental programmes
- The parties agree that between the three levels of government, the existing and potential overlap and duplication in environmental programme development and administration should be minimised. To achieve the best possible practical environmental outcomes, the Commonwealth and the States will undertake consultation to establish streamlined, effective and efficient delivery mechanisms, and accountability regimes, for environmental programmes of shared interest.
- The parties agree that programme delivery will be undertaken by the most appropriate level of government, consistent with effective, accountable and practicable delivery while achieving sound environmental outcomes.
- The parties agree that the Commonwealth will primarily focus on matters of national environmental significance and that such programmes may warrant co-operative action by the Commonwealth and a State or States. The major role for the Commonwealth in the administration of co-operative environment programmes is in the establishment, in consultation with the States, of goals, objectives, priorities, strategies and frameworks, and ensuring performance against agreed goals and outcomes.
- Where the Commonwealth or a State has identified a matter which it considers requires a programme of co-operative action, it will contact other governments which may have an interest. Consultation will then be undertaken between the relevant parties on the desirability of establishing a programme and the means to be used to achieve the desired environmental objectives. Where the Commonwealth has identified a need for a national programme of co-operative action which applies to all the States, the Commonwealth, after consultation with the States, will advise them of the Ministerial Council or fora in which the matter is to be considered. Where appropriate, arrangements will be made for consultation with Local Government.
- Where it is agreed between the Commonwealth and a State or States that a programme of co-operative action is required, the Commonwealth and the State(s) will enter into an agreement or arrangement which will include:
- overarching goals and objectives;
- the national environmental outcomes to be achieved;
- roles and responsibilities of participants;
- funding and delivery frameworks (including funding to achieve the matters in (e) below);
- the accountability regime, including performance indicators, monitoring, reporting and appraisal mechanisms (linked to performance based incentives) to be established to measure the achievement of environmental, administrative and financial outcomes; and
- provision for the establishment, as appropriate, of subsidiary agreements between the State(s) and Local Government where it has a statutory or financial interest in the programme.
- The Commonwealth agrees that State priorities will be taken into account in setting priorities for programmes that address matters of national environmental significance.
- The parties agree that while the Commonwealth will retain the flexibility to provide direct funding to community groups and other organisations, such as Local Governments and Indigenous communities, the Commonwealth will first consult with the relevant States on any such proposals, and only implement such arrangements on the agreement of the State or, failing such agreement, on the decision of the relevant Commonwealth Minister. In the event of such decision, the Commonwealth will have full responsibility for project administration and accountability.
- The parties agree that the contributions of funding sources will be properly and fully recognised.