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Thursday, 9 June 1994
Page: 1617

Senator DEVEREUX —My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. Can the minister explain how the national pollutant inventory will benefit Australia? Will he advise whether any steps have been taken to involve the community in its development?

Senator FAULKNER —The government has committed $5.9 million over four years, which was announced in the Prime Minister's environment statement, to help develop a national pollutant inventory. This inventory will provide a very important improvement in our knowledge of the sources, nature and quantities of pollutants being released into our environment. This knowledge is essential for fully effective minimisation and management of emissions by industry and by all levels of government.

  The national pollutant inventory will meet important community `right to know' concerns by providing information on pollutants entering our environment. It will provide information that will allow industry to recover valuable materials unwittingly being lost and to reduce emissions. It will contribute to state of the environment reporting and it will also help Australia to meet its obligations under agenda 21.

  The inventory must be effectively focused on the most important pollutants and the reporting requirements must be appropriate to Australian conditions. We must ensure that the resources invested in the inventory produce the most useful results that are possible. Therefore, I am keen to ensure that the inventory's development is based on extensive community consultation. To this end, community workshops will be held in each capital city during late June and early July. These workshops will allow interested parties to address the issues raised in the national pollutant inventory discussion paper which was recently released.

  The workshops are intended to stimulate community discussion prior to the closing date for written submissions, which is 8 August of this year. I can report to the Senate that interest in the workshops is running high. Registrations from a wide cross-section of the community have been received. I invite honourable senators to contact any potentially interested stakeholders they may be aware of to ensure that they realise there is an opportunity to participate in this important consultative forum.

  The workshops I have mentioned are just one mechanism that we will be using to ensure that an effective and equitable inventory program is developed. The outcomes of the workshops will be considered in conjunction with written submissions on the discussion paper.