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Monday, 19 November 2012
Page: 9108

Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

(Question No. 2246)


Senator Bernardi asked the Minister representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, upon notice, on 3 October 2012

In regard to each department and agency under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and each Commonwealth authority under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 within the Minister's portfolio:

(1) Is information collected from stakeholders and the broader community; if so:

(a) what forms or other methods are used to collect information;

(b) how many of these forms are: (i) paper-based, (ii) electronic based; and (iii) both;

(c) do these forms request an estimate of the time taken to complete; if not, why not; and

(d) is data collected on how long it takes to complete each form; if so, can this data be provided.

(2) For each proposed regulatory initiative since August 2010:

(a) how many stakeholder consultations have been conducted; and

(b) have there been any complaints from stakeholders about the consultation process; if so, from whom.


Senator Conroy: The Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The portfolio collects information from stakeholders and the broader community.

(a) Information is collected using forms, both paper-based and electronic, and face to face interviews, formal advisory committees, stakeholder engagement programs, partnership arrangements with industry, public consultation periods, informal networks and meetings.

(b) The portfolio uses a large number of paper-based and electronic forms with the exact figure being unavailable.

(c) The review of Wetlands Australia magazine (published by the department) involved a survey of subscribers, authors and wetland NGOs and included an estimate of 10 minutes to complete the survey (eight multiple choice and two open questions). The Bureau of Meteorology conducts telephone and electronic-based surveys on public perceptions of weather and warnings. An indication about how long the survey would take is provided at the commencement of the phone call and in the opening paragraph of the electronic form. Generally, portfolio forms do not provide an estimate of the time taken to complete.

(d) For a current online survey regarding the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area Strategic Assessment, respondents have been asked how long it takes to complete the survey and this information will be available once the survey closes. However, generally speaking, the portfolio does not collect data on how long it takes to complete each form.

(2) (a) Regulatory initiatives since August 2010:

Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA)

The MDBA conducted 50 stakeholder consultations in relation to the Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan (August-December 2010) and 175 meetings were held during the 20-week consultation period on the Proposed Basin Plan — a draft for consultation (November 2011 to April 2012).

Commonwealth Environment Water Office (CEWO)

The CEWO released a Discussion paper - trading of Commonwealth environmental water for consultation between November 2011 and April 2012. The CEWO has been meeting with key stakeholder representatives in eight roundtable meetings as it seeks to finalise a position paper on trading.

Bureau of Meteorology (the Bureau)

The Bureau enters into a consultation process each time an amendment to the Water Regulations is considered. Persons named in the regulations are contacted directly in each consultation process. As the Regulations affects less than 250 organisations, the Bureau has worked directly with those organisations and consultation is ongoing. It is therefore not possible to specify a number of consultations.

Supervising Scientist Division (SSD)

The SSD conducts stakeholder consultation through the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee (ARRAC) which meets twice a year.

Great Barrier Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

A regulatory initiative has commenced which seeks to address the misuse of public moorings. Consultation with the Tourism and Recreation Reef Advisory committee which provides expert advice on tourism and recreation matters has been undertaken. The Office of Best Practice Regulation assessed that a regulatory impact statement for the proposed amendment would not be required.

Targeted consultation was undertaken from 9 to 23 February 2012 on an Environmental Management Charge for the disposal of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park ranging between $5-15 per cubic metre.

Proposed Preliminary consultation with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef Advisory Committees, specifically the Ecosystem Reef Advisory Committee, has commenced on Amendments to Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 to allow the inclusion of "assessment of heritage values" in the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report.

Amendments to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983 were introduced in December 2011 to increase protection to dugong within the Bowling Green Bay Species Conservation (Dugong Protection) Special Management Area. The amendments were largely developed through the initiative of local fishers as part of the Burdekin Regional Management Project. These changes have been developed in consultation with, and supported by, Queensland Seafood Industry Association, Fisheries Queensland, and the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.

Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)

Two stakeholder consultations have been conducted (from July-August 2011 and October-November 2011) regarding the Review of Heard Island and McDonald Island Marine Reserve Management Plan.

Three stakeholder consultations have been conducted (informal consultations during March-April 2011, and formal consultations during October-November 2011 and July-August 2012) regarding the Review of the Mawson's Huts Historic Site Management Plan.

Regulatory Reform Taskforce

The Regulatory Reform Taskforce conducted consultation for the Regulatory Proposal to Increase Protection for National Parks and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill. Consultation included public consultation, workshops, and roundtables (ministerial or departmental) since August 2010.

Marine Division

The Fisheries Adjustment Assistance Package (FAAP) is not a regulatory initiative but supports the implementation of a regulatory initiative. In the development of the FAAP there have been 11 formal meetings with stakeholders (including industry and state government stakeholders). A consultation paper was also released for public comment.

One regulatory initiative has been conducted in relation to Fisheries Assessments since August 2010, consisting of an interim declaration issued under the EPBC Act which provided for consultation with declaration affected parties.

Seven stakeholder consultation processes have been completed for Commonwealth Marine Reserves.

Environment Quality Division

The Hazardous Waste Review process has involved a round of consultation, through the release of an issues paper for stakeholder comment.

Stakeholder engagement and consultation was adopted as part of developing the National Waste Policy and the product stewardship legislation. In total, the consultations comprised release of nine separate public consultation documents, over 75 public meetings and over 150 bilateral meetings with stakeholders.

The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities has carried out stakeholder engagement activities in the lead up to and following the implementation of the Equivalent Carbon Price in relation to Synthetic Greenhouse Gasses on 1 July 2012 to 3 October 2012. These include:

16 Industry information sessions

27 meetings with industry

five national conferences/events

five activities associated with the distribution of material to stakeholder groups

four articles published into industry publications

19 fact sheets have been developed

two email alerts to industry notifying them of the changes following 1 July 2012

ongoing and regular meetings with Australian Government, state and territory governments/ bodies.

Parks Australia Division (including the Director of National Parks)

Since August 2010, four stakeholder consultations have been conducted related to the signature, ratification and implementation of the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing, which will have a direct bearing on Part 8A of the EPBC regulations.

During the preparation of four management plans for Commonwealth reserves, Parks Australia held meetings and consulted with a range of stakeholders.

(b) There were complaints from stakeholders about the community engagement process on the Guide to the Proposed Basin Plan.

In relation to the consultation on an Environmental Management Charge for the disposal of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, a total of 11 of the 63 submissions noted the consultation process to be unsatisfactory. The comments were received from stakeholders representing Port Authorities, the Queensland Government, the Queensland Resource Council, the tourism industry, non-government organisations, Local Marine Advisory Committees, Reef Advisory Committees and the general public.

The National Seafood Industry Association lodged a complaint with the department regarding the short timeframe in which they were given to submit a response to the discussion paper on the FAAP. The deadline for submissions was extended to allow five weeks for them to respond.

One comment about the consultation process regarding Fisheries Assessments not being 'sufficiently well advertised to the general public' was received verbally on 15 October 2012 by Ms Rebecca Hubbard, Marine Co-ordinator at Environment Tasmania.

A complaint from the Australian Land Based Anglers Association was received when comments were open for the Booderee National Park draft plan of management.

Complaints were also received from the Recreational Fishing Alliance of New South Wales and the Australian National Sportfishing Association after they were unable to prepare and send comments on the draft management plan for Booderee National Park within the 90 day public comment period.