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Department of the Environment and Energy—Report for 2015-16, incorporating the report of the National Heritage Trust of Australia


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A N N U A L R E P O R T 2 0 1 5 - 2 0 1 6

Department of the Environment and Energy

Annual Report 2015-16

ii Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

© Commonwealth of Australia, 2016.

The Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 is licensed by the Commonwealth of Australia for use under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence with the exception of the Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth of Australia, the logo of the agency responsible for publishing the report, content supplied by third parties, and any images depicting people. For licence conditions see: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

This report should be attributed as ‘The Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16, Commonwealth of Australia 2016’.

The Commonwealth of Australia has made all reasonable efforts to identify content supplied by third parties using the following format: ‘© Copyright, [name of third party]’.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Australian Government or the Minister for the Environment and Energy.

ISSN (Print): 2204-4124

ISSN (Online): 2204-4132

Image credits Front and back cover: Sunset over Point Petit in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Western Australia (© Copyright Nick Rains and Department of the Environment and Energy)

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 iii ii Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Letter of transmittal

Letter of transmittal

iv Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

About this report

About this report The Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-2016 has been prepared in accordance with the requirements for non-corporate Commonwealth entities’ annual reports prescribed by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule). The requirements for content to be included in entities’ annual reports were approved on behalf of the Parliament by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit on 2 May 2016. The compliance index indicates where information required under the PGPA Rule can be found in this report (see Appendix 4).

Further information

For more information concerning this annual report contact:

Assistant Secretary, Analysis Branch Policy Analysis and Implementation Division Department of the Environment and Energy GPO Box 787 Canberra ACT 2601 Australia Phone: 1800 803 772 Email: ciu@environment.gov.au

This annual report is also available electronically at www.environment.gov.au.

Acknowledgement of country

The Department acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to them and their cultures and to their elders both past and present.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 v iv Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Table of contents

Table of contents

Letter of transmittal iii

About this report iv

1 Overview 2

Secretary’s message 2

Overview of non-financial performance 4

Overview of financial performance 8

Portfolio and Department structure 13

2 Annual Performance Statements 18

Statement by the Secretary 18

Departmental purposes and activities 19

Performance against departmental activities 21

Environment and heritage 21

Climate change 55

Antarctica 68

Water 75

Enabling activities 82

Corporate support 95

3 Management and Accountability 104

Corporate governance 104

Central policy support 108

External scrutiny 111

Work health and safety 122

Client services 124

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance 125

Management of human resources 129

Assets management 136

Procurement 136

Advertising and market research expenditure 138

vi Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Table of contents

4 Financial Statements 141

Department of the Environment and Energy 142

Natural Heritage Trust of Australia 225

5 Legislative reporting 246

Operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 246

Operation of the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997 279

Operation of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 281

Operation of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 284

Operation of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 286

Operation of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 290

Operation of the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000 293

Operation of the Water Act 2007 295

Operation of the Register of Environmental Organisations 302

Operation of the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 303

Appendices 311

Appendix 1: Statement of certification with PGPA Rule section 10 (Fraud systems) 312

Appendix 2: Entity Resource Statement 2015-16 313

Appendix 3: Expenses for Outcomes 315

Appendix 4: Compliance index—List of PGPA Rule requirements 322

Appendix 5: Corrections to material errors in the 2014-15 Annual Report 326

Navigation aids 329

Glossary 330

Abbreviations and acronyms 334

List of tables 336

List of figures 339

Index 340

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 vii vi Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

viii Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Birdlife taking flight over Moulting Lagoon, Tasmania (© Copyright Nick Rains and Department of the Environment and Energy)

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 1 viii Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

1 Overview

2 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

1 Overview

Secretary’s message In 2015-16, the Department, as stewards of Australia’s natural estate, supported the Government in achieving a healthy environment, strong economy and thriving community. Our work ranged from policy-making to program implementation, from scientific research to on-ground operations in Commonwealth national parks and Antarctica, and from regulation to knowledge-brokering in Australia and overseas.

This report presents our achievements for the year. For the first time, the annual report includes annual performance statements which explicitly connect the Corporate Plan 2015-16, our primary planning document, and our actual performance. This approach allows us to be transparent about how well we have achieved our purposes.

Looking at our responsibilities and activities for the year, there were some common areas of focus, achievement and opportunity.

In 2015-16, we continued to increase our investment in the science and information needed to support development and implementation of effective evidence-based policy. The Government’s investment in an integrated monitoring and reporting program for the Reef 2050 plan, for example, will enable better assessment of the effectiveness of the Government's investments to protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef’s values. The Bioregional Assessment Program provides tools for decision-makers to manage the cumulative impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining development on surface water and groundwater.

We are committed to actions each year that contribute to our long-term objectives, particularly for programs where the impact of our investment is measured over several years, like our Commonwealth environmental watering activities. The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder delivers environmental water to key environmental sites each year in line with the Murray-Darling Basin annual environmental watering priorities and the longer-term Basin-wide watering strategy. To assess the impact of environmental water use in key Murray-Darling Basin catchments, we are undertaking a long-term intervention monitoring project.

We are focused on ensuring integration of our policies and programs to improve our performance. For example, our natural resource management programs are targeting shared priorities. The Green Army program delivered projects cooperatively with local communities that, among other things, contribute to the Government's strategic priorities for threatened species, the Great Barrier Reef, heritage, remote areas and native vegetation.

Secretary Gordon de Brouwer (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 3 2 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Throughout 2015-16, we worked collaboratively with other Australian Government agencies, other governments, business and communities. Successful C-17A Globemaster flights to Antarctica, for example, were the result of collaboration between our Australian Antarctic Division and the Royal Australian Air Force and represent a step change in heavy-lift cargo capability for Australia’s Antarctic program. We continued to work with state and territory governments to streamline environmental regulation through strategic assessments, through development of the EPBC Act Conditions-setting policy and by implementing a nationally consistent approach to assessing and listing threatened species and ecological communities.

Our active participation in international forums is demonstrated at the regional level through our successful advocacy for the Oceania region piloting a new wildlife trade permitting and reporting system under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and globally through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

How we achieve our results matters to us. In 2015-16, we invested in our leadership capability and in building the professional and technical skills of our employees. We continued to deliver our Excellence in Leadership and Management Program to build strategic leadership and people management capabilities. A diverse workforce is important and, through the Department’s updated Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2019, Indigenous employment and capability strategy 2016-2019 and Disability Action Plan 2016-2019, we strengthened our commitment to an inclusive and effective workplace.

The Department’s 2015-16 achievements occurred against a backdrop of change. Machinery-of-government changes resulted in water use efficiency, water reform and the Government’s cities agenda moving to other departments. The Department is implementing improvements following its comprehensive analysis of the recommendations of recent Australian Public Service reviews, including appointing a Chief Risk Officer to develop our understanding of and engagement with risk.

After the 2016 election, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP was appointed as the Minister for the Environment and Energy, and responsibility for energy policy was transferred to the Department. This change recognises the link between the energy and climate change policies and programs.

Our achievements and the way we worked in 2015-16 contributed to our ability to deliver good policy advice, achieve better environmental, economic and social outcomes, build our influence and foster a diverse, inclusive and professional workplace. In 2016-17, we will continue to work across government and with communities, non-government bodies and business to implement the Australian Government’s environment and energy priorities. Supporting staff to build capabilities will enable us to do this even more effectively.

Dr Gordon de Brouwer Secretary, Department of the Environment and Energy

4 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Overview of non-financial performance Our performance is determined by looking at each of our purposes and our cross-cutting science and research activities and measuring the extent to which we have achieved our objectives. Our performance encompasses the environment policy, program and research work and corporate support activities that enable us to effectively serve the Government.

In 2015-16, our purposes were to conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s environment and heritage; develop and implement a national response to climate change; advance Australia’s strategic, scientific and environmental interests in Antarctica; and improve the health of Australia’s river and freshwater ecosystems. Underpinning these purposes was our environmental science and research activity.

The annual performance statements, a requirement under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, examine our performance against what we set out to achieve in the Corporate Plan 2015-16. The statements should be considered in conjunction with the corporate plan.

Environment and heritage

In 2015-16, the Department continued to deliver a range of natural resource management programs to help communities take practical action to improve their local environment and promote sustainable resource management.

Implementation of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan is well under way. In 2015-16, we continued to work with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Government to deliver the Reef 2050 plan in partnership with science, community and industry stakeholders. The $210 million Reef Trust, a key mechanism to deliver the Reef 2050 plan, is funding projects to improve or maintain water quality, the health and resilience of coastal ecosystems, species protection and the condition of matters of national environmental significance through the strategic delivery of offsets. In March 2016, the Australian Government announced it would invest $1 billion in the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s Reef Fund to complement existing Australian and Queensland government commitment to $2 billion over the decade.

The overarching National Landcare Program funds a national network of natural resource management organisations, the 20 Million Trees program, management of World Heritage places and the Indigenous Protected Areas program. It is complemented by the Green Army program and remaining Biodiversity Fund spending. Funds committed under the 20 Million Trees program since it started—$42.8 million across 164 projects—are supporting the planting of more than 13.4 million trees.

The Threatened Species Strategy, released in July 2015, sets ambitious targets for protecting threatened species and outlines how the Australian Government will prioritise work in partnership with the community, the private sector and state and territory governments over the next five years to protect and restore threatened animals and plants. In 2015-16, we implemented all year-one actions under the strategy. This included reaching agreement with the states and territories to adopt a nationally consistent approach to assessing and listing threatened species and ecological communities based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. This will simplify and streamline assessment across jurisdictions.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 5 4 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Streamlining assessment and approval arrangements while achieving strong environmental outcomes under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 remained a priority for the Department in 2015-16. Implementing these arrangements will ensure swifter decisions and more certainty for Australian communities and businesses while maintaining or improving statutory environmental standards. The Outcomes-based condition policy and guidance sets out an approach to setting approval conditions that specify the environmental outcomes that must be achieved by an approval holder without prescribing how the outcomes should be achieved. Outcomes-based conditions give approval holders the flexibility to be innovative and to achieve the required environmental outcomes in the most effective and efficient manner.

The Department finalised its EPBC Act Condition-setting policy, which seeks to reduce regulatory duplication by ensuring that the Commonwealth does not apply unnecessary approval conditions if a state or territory condition meets the same objective.

Australia has many iconic heritage sites of natural, cultural and Indigenous significance that are protected under the EPBC Act. The Australian Heritage Strategy, launched in December 2015, supports the long-term protection of Australia’s heritage places by establishing a 10-year framework to deliver actions against three high-level outcomes: national leadership, strong partnerships and engaged communities.

Climate change

Australia’s unique environment, our economy and society will be affected by climate change. At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in December 2015, Australia played an important role in the negotiation and signing of a new global agreement for climate action post 2020. At the meeting, Australia committed to reduce its emissions by 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Emissions projections indicate that Australia is expected to surpass its 2020 cumulative abatement task by 78 million carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes.

The Emissions Reduction Fund provides incentives for emissions reduction activities across the Australian economy through crediting, purchasing and safeguarding reductions. As at 30 June 2016, the fund had contracted 143 million tonnes of emissions reductions over three auctions at an average price of $12.10 a tonne. The safeguard mechanism, introduced on 1 July 2016, will ensure that emissions reductions that the Government has purchased are not displaced by significant increases in emissions above business-as-usual levels elsewhere in the economy.

In September 2015, the former Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced the creation of the Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation within the Department. The Office brings together the Clean Energy Regulator, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Climate Change Authority and climate change and renewable energy policy functions within the Portfolio. It was established to better integrate the Government’s policies and programs for reducing emissions and promoting renewable energy, with a new focus on promoting technology and innovation. In 2015-16, the Office engaged actively with the Industry, Science and Innovation portfolio on the National Energy Productivity Plan and on energy market matters.

6 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

In March 2016, the Government announced that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation would establish three new funds, drawing on its existing legislated funding. These funds include the Reef Fund and:

› a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund to support emerging clean energy technologies make the leap from demonstration to commercial deployment. This fund is being jointly managed with ARENA.

› a $1 billion Sustainable Cities Investment Fund for clean energy projects that support the Government’s Smart Cities Plan, by improving the productivity, liveability and accessibility of cities.

The National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy to strengthen Australia’s climate change preparedness was released in December 2015. It identifies a set of principles to guide effective adaptation practices and resilience building, and outlines the Government’s vision for the future.

Antarctica

Part of Australia’s global interests in the environment include Antarctica where we continue to have a strong and effective presence. The Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan, released in April 2016, sets out a pathway to promote Australia’s continued leadership in Antarctic affairs. The strategy strengthens Australia’s Antarctic presence and science through the acquisition of a new icebreaker, restoration of our inland traverse capability, preliminary work to develop year-round aviation access and revitalising Antarctic science infrastructure. Implementation of the strategy is supported by a $2.2 billion package of investment across the Australian Antarctic program.

In April 2016, the Department signed a contract with Australian company DMS Maritime Pty Ltd for the design, building and long-term operation and maintenance of a new research and resupply icebreaking ship. The state-of-the-art icebreaker will be uniquely tailored to meet Australia’s needs and offers increased endurance and icebreaking capability. It provides a modern platform for marine science research in both sea ice and open water, with the capability to land and retrieve remotely operated underwater vehicles. It will support Antarctic operations and science and ensure Australia is the scientific partner of choice in East Antarctica.

River and freshwater ecosystems

The Department continues to play a critical role in the effective delivery of the Murray -Darling Basin Plan. In 2015-16, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder made the most of the Commonwealth’s holdings through a combination of water delivery, carryover and a small trade of allocations to maximise environmental outcomes. This was particularly prudent because it allowed environmental needs to continue to be met despite limited water availability due to dry conditions. The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder delivered watering actions in partnership with Basin states, river operators, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, scientists, local environmental water advisory groups and committees and Basin communities. These actions were informed by comprehensive multi-year plans.

In February 2016, the first scientific reports of the five-year $30 million Long-term Intervention Monitoring project were released. The reports indicate that, by restoring natural variability in flows, environmental water is reconnecting rivers with their wetlands and floodplains

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 7 6 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

and providing food, habitat and breeding opportunities for native fish, waterbirds and vegetation. It is reducing the risk of damage to the environment caused by poor water quality and salinity—consistent with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s role under the Water Act 2007, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the Basin-wide environmental watering strategy.

Environmental science and research

Science underpins much of the work we do. The National Environmental Science Program is the centerpiece of the science that the Department undertakes and commissions. This six-year $145 million program helps decision-makers understand, manage and conserve Australia’s environment by funding world-class biodiversity and climate science. In 2015-16, the former Minister approved 129 projects across the program’s six research hubs. They cover issues such as marine biodiversity, threatened species, earth systems and climate change.

Corporate support

The staff and leadership of the Department take seriously our role as stewards of an effective institution. In 2015-16, we strengthened our capacity to serve the Government by developing and implementing policies to improve our policy, analytical and workforce capability. We renewed our Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2019 and Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy 2016-2019, which together provide a comprehensive framework to foster a culturally inclusive workplace and ensure the Department is an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Our Disability Action Plan 2016-2019 aims to increase the focus on recruiting and developing employees with disability. For the first time, we participated in an internship program arranged by the Australian Network on Disability, through which we employed three students with disability.

In 2015-16, the Department successfully managed total departmental and administered expenditure of $1.15 billion. We managed assets with a total value of $5.38 billion, including the Commonwealth water entitlements of $2.91 billion and assets relating to Australia’s strategic, scientific, environmental and economic interests in the Antarctic region of $415.68 million.

Operating context

As a result of machinery-of-government changes, the water use efficiency and water reform elements of our previous water purpose were transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in September 2015. In February 2016, responsibility for the Government’s cities agenda transferred to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In July 2016, responsibility for energy policy was transferred to the Department, and these responsibilities will be reflected in the next annual report.

The Department undertook a comprehensive analysis of the recommendations of recent Australian Public Service reviews and is implementing improvements. In November 2015, we appointed a Chief Risk Officer to develop our understanding of and engagement with risk and to help our staff manage risk. We continued to contribute to the Government’s innovation and science agenda and explored economic productivity gains under the regulatory reform agenda.

8 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Overview of financial performance Total departmental and administered expenditure managed during 2015-16 was $1.15 billion, compared with $1.27 billion in 2014-15. The Department delivers major Government initiatives to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Australia’s natural resources across four purposes: environment and heritage, climate change, Antarctica, and water (see Part 2, ‘Annual performance statements’, page 20). In 2015-16, we continued to successfully implement key government programs, notably Green Army, National Landcare, Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, Reef Trust and 20 Million Trees. We ran significant operations, including in remote locations such as Commonwealth national parks and the Antarctic. The Department managed 10 special accounts established through legislation and several cost recovery schemes.

In 2015-16, the Department managed assets with a total value of $5.38 billion compared with $4.22 billion in 2014-15, including the Commonwealth water entitlements of $2.91 billion (2014-15: $2.52 billion) and assets relating to Australia’s strategic, scientific, environmental and economic interests in the Antarctic region of $415.68 million (2014-15: $332.75 million). The $82.93 million increase in Antarctic region assets is largely due to the start of construction of the new icebreaker (see Part 2, ‘Annual performance statements’, page 68).

Water entitlements represent the most significant component of administered assets. The Administrative Arrangements Orders made on 21 September 2015 transferred responsibility for most water reform functions under the Department’s water purpose to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The responsibility, however, in relation to holding and managing the Commonwealth’s environmental water entitlements, and accounting for their value on behalf of the Australian Government, still remain with the Department. Accurately determining the value of water assets is complex because of the relatively new and developing market for trading of water assets and volatility of water entitlement trade prices, spanning multiple Basin states. The value is also affected by demand for water and climatic conditions.

Under the Madrid Protocol, the Australian Government is required to remediate its scientific bases in Antarctica in case of closure, and this risk must notionally be accounted for in financial accounts. The Department’s assessment of the requirements and cost associated with these restoration obligations involves significant judgement that is informed by a complex model based on knowledge about operations in Antarctica. The costs of meeting the obligations, including the make-good provision and base restitution liability, are susceptible to changes in several variables such as the Australian Government bond rates, asset replacement costs and asset useful lives.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 9 8 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Departmental finances

Figure 1.1 outlines the Department’s financial performance over the past four years and the budget for 2016-17.

Figure 1.1: Departmental financial performance, 2012-13 to 2016-17 ($ million)

The financial performance of departmental activities for 2015-16 is summarised in Table 1.1.

Table 1.1: Departmental financial performance, 2014-15 and 2015-16

Indicator

30 June 2016

($’000)

30 June 2015

($’000)

Variance

($’000)

Operating expenses 526,971 575,814 (48,843)

Own-source revenue (42,830) (58,487) 15,657

Gains (2,350) (5,937) 3,587

Net cost of services (481,791) (511,390) 29,599

Revenue from government 398,902 419,596 (20,694)

Operating (deficit)/surplus (82,889) (91,794) 8,905

Changes in asset revaluation surplus (37,739) 12,326 (50,065)

Total comprehensive income/(loss) (120,628) (79,468) (41,160)

The Department’s net cost of services was $481.79 million, with own-source revenue of $42.83 million and operating expenses of $526.97 million. Revenue from Government was $398.90 million, resulting in an operating deficit of $82.89 million. The total comprehensive loss (deficit net asset revaluation) was $120.63 million. This is an approved operating loss and includes non-cash expenses such as depreciation, amortisation and provision for restoration obligations in the Australian Antarctic regions.

10 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Our operating expenses in 2015-16 were $48.84 million lower than in 2014-15. This was primarily due to a reduction in employee and supplier expenses. The changes that accompanied the Administrative Arrangements Orders made on 21 September 2015 and 18 February 2016 and the Department’s voluntary redundancy program resulted in a reduction of 190 staff. The machinery-of-government changes led to an overall decrease in operational expenditure on consultants, travel, general goods and services and workers compensation.

The reduction in own-source revenue of $15.66 million was largely due to a decrease in Official Development Assistance funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for natural conservancy engagement and Kokoda Track assistance. A further factor that contributed to the decrease in own-source revenue was the reduction in contracted activity charges and air charter services provided by the Australian Antarctic Division.

Gains were $3.59 million higher in 2014-15. This was primarily due to the recognition of leasehold improvements provided by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science as part of the transfer of climate change functions to the Department.

The $20.69 million decrease in revenue from the Government primarily reflected the net result of the Administrative Arrangements Orders made on 21 September 2015 and 18 February 2016 and measures announced through the 2015-16 Budget. The budget measures included expense and saving measures.

Changes in asset revaluation surplus largely relate to changes in the relevant Australian Government bond rates used to calculate make-good provisions for buildings at Antarctic bases.

Table 1.2: Departmental financial position, 2014-15 and 2015-16

30 June 2016

($’000)

30 June 2015

($’000)

Variance

($’000)

Total assets 544,142 484,304 59,838

Total liabilities 644,823 582,069 62,754

Total equity (100,681) (97,765) (2,916)

In 2015-16, the Department managed a total asset base of $544.14 million, an increase of $59.84 million over 2014-15, mainly due to commencing the construction of the new icebreaker. This increase was offset by decreases in trade and other receivables due to the timing of receipts for services provided by the Department.

Total liabilities managed by the Department increased by $62.75 million during 2015-16 to $644.82 million as at 30 June 2016. This was mainly due to the Department’s make good provisions increasing to reflect the time value of future cash flows. This increase was partially offset by lower employee provisions resulting from the active management of recruitment to ensure an affordable staffing level in future years.

As at 30 June 2016, the Department’s total liabilities exceeded its total assets. This is the result of provisions for Madrid Protocol restoration obligations in Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island and is reflected in the shortfall in total equity of $100.68 million. This does not make the Department insolvent and has no bearing on whether the Department’s debts will be paid, as the Department is part of the legal entity that is the Australian Government, which is ultimately responsible for all the Department’s debts. Further detail is provided in Part 4, ‘Financial statements’, page 141.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 11 10 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Administered finances

Figure 1.2 outlines the Department’s financial performance in relation to administered activities over the past four years and the administered budget for 2016-17.

Figure 1.2: Administered activities, 2012-13 to 2016-17 ($ million)

0

100

200

300

400

500

600

700

800

900

1,000

2016-17 Budget

2015-16 Actuals

2014-15 Actuals

2013-14 Actuals

2012-13 Actuals

Expense Income

($m)

The financial performance of the Department’s administered activities for 2015-16 is summarised in Table 1.3.

Table 1.3: Administered financial performance, 2014-15 and 2015-16

Indicator

30 June 2016

($’000)

30 June 2015

($’000)

Variance

($’000)

Expenses administered on behalf of Government 618,906 691,283 (72,377)

Income administered on behalf of Government 521,300 371,679 149,621

Net cost of services 97,606 319,604 (221,998)

The Department’s total administered expenditure during 2015-16 was $618.91 million. This expenditure comprised grants, supplier expenses, payments to corporate Commonwealth entities and non-cash write-down and impairment of water entitlement assets. The overall decrease in administered expenses of $72.38 million compared with 2014-15 was mainly driven by a reduction in grant expenditure as a result of the September 2015 machinery-of-government changes that transferred responsibility for the majority of water related grant programs to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The reduction in administered expenses was also due to upward movements in water entitlement prices, which reduced the expense associated with the decline in value of water entitlement assets.

12 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

These decreases were offset by increases in suppliers expenses associated with the Green Army program and the Murray-Darling Basin joint programs1 and increases in payments to corporate Commonwealth entities.

In 2015-16, we administered income from activities on behalf of the Government totalling $521.30 million. The increase in administered revenue of $149.62 million was primarily due to non-cash gains from the reversal of previous impairments recorded against water entitlement assets. The reversals resulted from annual impairment testing of water entitlement assets, which saw upward movement in water entitlement prices due to the high demand for water and decline in water allocated to entitlements under dry conditions.

Table 1.4: Administered assets and liabilities, 2014-15 and 2015-16

30 June 2016

($’000)

30 June 2015

($’000)

Variance

($’000)

Total assets 4,832,518 3,736,560 1,095,958

Total liabilities 13,389 23,917 (10,528)

Net assets 4,819,129 3,712,643 1,106,486

As at 30 June 2016, the Department administered assets valued at $4.83 billion consisting predominately of water entitlements and the Government’s interest in the net assets of the Director of National Parks, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

As at 30 June 2016, the Department had administered liabilities of $13.39 million consisting predominately of end of year supplier and grant payables.

The agency resource statement provides additional information about the various funding sources that the Department may draw upon during the year (see Appendix 2). For a summary of total expenses by outcomes, see Appendix 3.

1 The Murray-Darling Basin joint programs promote and coordinate effective planning, management and sharing of the water and other natural resources of the Basin. It is a partnership between the Australian, New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory governments.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 13 12 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Portfolio and Department structure The Department’s main role in 2015-16 was to advise on and implement environment policy to support the Government in achieving a healthy environment, strong economy and thriving community now and for the future. Our activities covered four purposes: environment and heritage, climate change, Antarctica, and water. During 2015-16, we effectively administered regulations and implemented government programs, provided evidence-based policy advice and ran on-ground operations.

Information about the Department's purposes and their alignment with outcomes, as outlined in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2015-16, Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015-16 and Corporate Plan 2015-16, is in Part 2 of this report on page 20.

The organisational structure of the Department as at 30 June 2016 is presented in Figure 1.3.

In 2015-16, the Environment portfolio included the following entities:

› Department of the Environment (lead agency) › Australian Renewable Energy Agency › Bureau of Meteorology › Clean Energy Finance Corporation

› Clean Energy Regulator › Climate Change Authority › Director of National Parks › Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

› Murray-Darling Basin Authority › Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Links to the websites of portfolio agencies and their respective annual reports are on the Department’s website.

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/structure/websites

Machinery-of-government changes resulted in changes to the portfolio in 2015-16, including the transfer of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to the Agriculture and Water Resources Portfolio and the addition of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to the Environment portfolio. These changes became effective under the Administrative Arrangements Order amendment made in September 2015. Information on machinery-of-government changes at the departmental level is included in Part 2, ‘Annual performance statements’, page 19.

Ministers

In 2015-16, the ministers responsible for the Environment portfolio were:

› the Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for the Environment (18 September 2013 to 19 July 2016)

› the Hon Jamie Briggs MP Minister for Cities and the Built Environment (21 September 2015 to 29 December 2015) › the Hon Bob Baldwin MP

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment (23 December 2014 to 21 September 2015).

14 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Figure 1.3: Environment Portfolio and Department of the Environment organisational structure as at 30 June 2016

Note: ERISS-Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist, ERIN-Environmental Resources Information Network, ARENA-Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 15 14 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Figure 1.3: Environment Portfolio and Department of the Environment organisational structure as at 30 June 2016

Note: ERISS-Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist, ERIN-Environmental Resources Information Network, ARENA-Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

16 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Overview

Humpback whale breaching off the Gold Coast (© Copyright Michael Snedic and Department of the Environment and Energy)

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 17 16 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

2

Annual Performance Statements

18 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

2 Annual Performance Statements Statement by the Secretary I, Gordon de Brouwer, as the accountable authority of the Department of the Environment and Energy, present the annual performance statements of the Department, covering the 2015-16 financial year, as required under paragraph 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act). In my opinion, these annual performance statements are based on properly maintained records, accurately reflect the performance of the entity, and comply with subsection 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 19 18 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Departmental purposes and activities The Department delivers major Government initiatives to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Australia’s natural resources. These initiatives deliver real outcomes for local people and local places across four purpose areas: environment and heritage, climate change, Antarctica, and water.

The Department pursues each of its purposes through a set of significant activities. The annual performance statements report on our fulfillment of these purposes during 2015-16. All the key performance indicators outlined in the following sections were included in the Department’s Portfolio Budget Statements 2015-16 and Corporate Plan 2015-16 (with the exception of ‘Corporate support’, which does not have an associated budget program). Some key performance indicators were updated in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015-16; where relevant, this is indicated in the performance statements.

Table 2.1 illustrates the alignment between the purposes and outcomes outlined in the corporate plan and portfolio budget statements. Program 1.7, ‘Cities and the built environment’, was in the portfolio additional estimates statements but is not in this report, as it was transferred to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet following a machinery-of-government change in February 2016.

20 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Table 2.1: Alignment between purposes and outcomes outlined in the Corporate Plan 2015-16 and Portfolio Budget Statements 2015-16

Corporate plan Portfolio budget statements

Purpose Activity Program Outcome

ENVIRONMENT AND HERITAGE

Conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity, threatened species, ecosystems, environment and heritage

Sustainable management of natural resources

Program 1.1: Sustainable management of natural resources and the environment

Outcome 1: Conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s biodiversity, ecosystems, environment and heritage through research, information management, supporting natural resource management, establishing and managing Commonwealth protected areas, and reducing and regulating the use of pollutants and hazardous substances

Program 1.3: Land sector initiatives

Environment and heritage regulation

Program 1.4: Conservation of Australia’s heritage and the environment

Program 1.5: Environmental regulation

Program 1.6: Management of hazardous wastes, substances and pollutants

CLIMATE CHANGE

Develop and implement a national response to climate change

Reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and support adaptation to climate change

Program 2.1: Reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions

Outcome 2: Reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change and contribute to the negotiation of an effective global solution to climate change, through developing and implementing a national response to climate change

Program 2.2: Adapting to climate change

Program 2.3: Renewable energy technology development

ANTARCTICA

Advance Australia’s strategic, scientific and environmental interests in the Antarctic

Antarctic science and presence

Program 3.1: Antarctica: science, policy and presence

Outcome 3: Advance Australia’s strategic, scientific, environmental and economic interests in the Antarctic region by protecting, administering and researching the region

WATER

Improve the health of rivers and freshwater ecosystemsa

Environmental watering Program 4.1: Water reform Outcome 4: Improve the health of rivers and freshwater ecosystems

and water use efficiency through implementing water reforms, and ensuring enhanced sustainability, efficiency and productivity in the management and use of water resources

Program 4.2: Commonwealth environmental water

ENABLING ACTIVITIES

Support all departmental purposes

Environmental science and research

Program 1.2: Environmental information and research

Outcome 1 and Outcome 4 (see above)

Program 4.1: Water reform

Corporate support

Not applicable Not applicable

a Most functions under this purpose were transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in September 2015.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 21 20 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Performance against departmental activities

Environment and heritage Purpose: Conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity, threatened species, ecosystems, environment and heritage

Sustainable management of natural resources

In 2015-16, the Department continued to deliver across a range of natural resource management (NRM) programs to help communities take practical action to improve their local environment and promote sustainable management. Key among these were Great Barrier Reef initiatives (including the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, the Reef program and the Reef Trust), the National Landcare Program, the 20 Million Trees Program, threatened species priorities, Green Army and Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030.

Great Barrier Reef

The Department’s responsibilities to protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef are guided by the Reef 2050 plan, which provides an overarching framework for the protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to 2050. We work with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Government to coordinate the delivery of the Reef 2050 plan in partnership with science, community and industry stakeholders. In 2015-16, the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee and the independent expert panel were established to provide ongoing advice on implementing the Reef 2050 plan.

Implementation of the Reef 2050 plan is well under way. Actions have been implemented to reduce the impacts of ports and dredging, build partnerships with science, industry and local communities, improve monitoring and reporting, and invest in action to improve the health of the Reef.

The $210 million Reef Trust is one of the key mechanisms to deliver the Reef 2050 plan. Focusing on known critical areas for investment, it will provide funding for projects to improve or maintain water quality, the health and resilience of coastal ecosystems, species protection, and the condition of matters of national environmental significance through the strategic delivery of offsets.

The Reef program is the single largest commitment ever made to address the threats of declining water quality and climate change to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Projects under this program are designed to improve the quality of water flowing into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon and, through complementary approaches, will enhance the Reef’s resilience to the threats posed by climate change and by nutrient, pesticide and sediment run-off.

Australian and Queensland governments continue to work closely to ensure alignment of investments and programs. A comprehensive report on the implementation of the Reef 2050 plan and the future priorities for action will be provided in the Reef 2050 Annual Report and Implementation Strategy 2016.

22 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

National Landcare Program

The Australian Government is investing in managing our natural resources to help communities take practical action to improve their local environment and deliver sustainable agricultural outcomes. The National Landcare Program is our overarching initiative that funds a national network of NRM organisations, the 20 Million Trees Program, management of World Heritage places, and the Indigenous Protected Areas program. Complementary programs outside the National Landcare Program include Green Army and the Land Sector Package.

National Landcare Program: regional delivery stream

In 2015-16, the National Landcare Program provided funding to Australia’s 56 NRM organisations to deliver national priorities through local and regional activities. The organisations are required to invest at least 20 per cent of their total Landcare funding in local community engagement activities to deliver against program objectives. NRM organisations play an important role in integrating environment protection and sustainable agriculture policies and programs. They do this by using regional stream funds to support local community projects that contribute to priority actions of the Threatened Species Strategy, the 20 Million Trees Program and Green Army projects.

The National Landcare Program has four strategic objectives. Table 2.2 shows the number of regional stream projects delivered against each of these objectives in 2015-16.

Table 2.2: Number of projects delivered against each strategic objective

Strategic objective

Projects delivered by NRM organisations

Communities are involved in caring for their environment 192

Communities are managing landscapes to sustain long-term economic and social benefits from their environment

84

Communities are protecting species and natural assets 122

Farmers and fishers are increasing their long-term returns through better management of the natural resource base

90

The Department’s online Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement Tool (MERIT) has improved documentation of program activities and increased our understanding of outcomes of Australian Government investment in NRM. In 2014, the Department introduced the Performance Framework for Regional Natural Resource Management Organisations—a key quality assurance and risk management tool for the regional delivery component of the National Landcare Program. The framework was intended to allow NRM bodies to move to a more mature, third-sector delivery model so that the Department could transition away from detailed contract management and towards performance and capacity focused monitoring. In response to feedback and learning, in 2015-16, in consultation with NRM organisations, the Department revised the 2014 performance framework. NRM organisations undertook self-assessments of their performance against the updated expectations during August 2016.

www.nrm.gov.au/publications/aust-government-performance-framework-2016

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 23 22 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

National Landcare Program: 20 Million Trees Program

The 20 Million Trees Program, funded under the National Landcare Program, supports local environmental outcomes by improving the extent, connectivity and condition of native vegetation that supports native species.

During 2015-16, grant rounds prioritised applications with a focus on threatened species and ecological communities. To date, around 95 per cent of 20 Million Trees projects support Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) listed threatened species or ecological communities.

The types of activities that are supported range from small community-based tube stock planting projects to large landscape-scale direct-seeding projects. Since the first projects were selected a little over a year ago, funding recipients have been busy collecting seed, propagating plants and preparing the ground.

In 2015-16, the Department announced 64 successful grant projects worth $5 million under grant round 2, and 10 projects of up to $7.3 million under tranche two. This brings the total figures for the program to $42.8 million for 164 projects that will plant more than 13.4 million trees. The projects involve a wide range of participants, including Landcare and community groups, individuals and organisations.

Threatened species

On 16 July 2015, the former Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP (now Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science), launched Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy at the Threatened Species Summit in Melbourne.

The Threatened Species Summit brought together state and territory government ministers, scientific experts, NRM organisations and community groups to focus on protecting threatened species.

The Threatened Species Strategy sets ambitious targets for protecting threatened species and outlines how the Australian Government will prioritise work in partnership with the community, the private sector and state and territory governments over the next five years to protect and recover threatened animals and plants.

The strategy made a commitment to taking decisive action on feral cats. In response, the Feral Cat Taskforce was established in 2015-16. The taskforce comprises representatives from each state and territory, the scientific community and key non-government organisations. It met twice during 2015 to build collaborative approaches and drive national momentum for feral cat control.

A robust project management framework is in place to report progress against each of the strategy targets. Achieving the targets is a national effort, and reporting on them will involve all levels of government, non-government organisations, experts and communities. Reporting on the year-one targets in the strategy is scheduled for late 2016.

24 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Green Army

The Green Army delivers practical, on-ground environmental projects such as restoring and protecting habitat, weeding, planting, cleaning up creeks and rivers, and restoring cultural heritage places. The Green Army continues to deliver environmental, social and economic benefits across the Australian landscape on a range of environmental priorities. In 2015-16, these priorities included the Great Barrier Reef, remote areas and Indigenous people, threatened species, environmental recovery in a natural disaster declared area, heritage, and increasing native vegetation.

Green Army teams are deployed across the country. They work with groups such as local councils, Indigenous and community groups, and local catchment and NRM organisations to help achieve priority conservation outcomes.

The Green Army remains the largest on-ground voluntary environmental action program of its kind. It provides participants with training, skills and experience to improve their opportunities for future employment. Green Army round four projects were announced in early 2015-16, bringing the total number of projects to 1145. The list of round five projects was released in May 2016, with a focus on 2-3 year multi-project proposals. As at the end of 2015-16, 801 projects are under way or complete across Australia.

Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

The Department worked with state and territory governments and the Australian Local Government Association to undertake the scheduled 2015 review of Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030. The review examined the strategy’s operation and national implementation, alignment with international commitments, and opportunities for improvement.

The review process included extensive consultation across all levels of government and other relevant sectors and a six-week public submission period from July 2015. Consultation revealed strong support for the development of a revised national strategy with stronger recognition of the benefits of biodiversity to the community, human health and the economy. Recognising the significant opportunity for reform, environment ministers agreed to continue this work in 2016.

www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/conservation/strategy/review-australias-biodiversity-conservation-strategy-2010-2030

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 25 24 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Results against key performance indicators

Objective: Improve the extent, condition and connectivity of Australia’s natural resources to support sustainable use, provide habitat for nationally threatened species and protect natural assets

Criterion Increase in extent and connectivity of vegetation communities in project areas2

Result Achieved

The Department administers NRM programs that contribute to achieving this criterion: 20 Million Trees Program, Green Army and the National Landcare Program. Figures for 20 Million Trees Program activities funded during 2015 are:

• 312,194 plants planted (expected to grow to a mature height >2 m) 

• 88 kg of seed sown (expected to grow to a mature height >2 m)

• 1681 ha revegetated.

While it is not yet possible to report on activity undertaken in the first half of 2016, preliminary indications are that there has been an increase in activity since 2015.

Table 2.3 shows data on the Green Army and National Landcare Program (including 20 Million Trees) for the 2015 calendar year.3

Table 2.3: Green Army and National Landcare Program vegetation results 2015

  Green Army National Landcare Program

Number of plants planted 1,013,296 965,772

Revegetation area (ha) 7,347 3,507

Initial area treated for weeds (ha) 26,530 146,794

Number of follow-up activities to re-treat for weeds 60 69

Initial area treated for pests (ha) 24,193 1,964,419

Number of follow-up activities to re-treat for pests 13 57

2 For projects reporting through the online MERIT.

3 The data presented may contain duplication due to double-counting where there has been a co-investment or staged investment or due to reporting or data entry errors. The accuracy of this reporting has not yet been confirmed.

26 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Criterion Number of NRM projects demonstrating maintenance or improvement in the condition of targeted threatened species habitat by June 2018

Result Achieved—based on progress against Threatened Species Strategy year-one actions

The Threatened Species Strategy sets targets for improving outcomes for 20 priority birds, 20 priority mammals and 30 priority plants by 2020. Actions to help these species recover by improving the condition of important habitat areas include revegetation, threat reduction through weed removal and pest animal management, fencing and installing nest boxes.

In 2015-16, the Australian Government approved more than $74 million in funding to over 400 projects supporting the recovery of threatened species. The Green Army and 20 Million Trees Program, together with the Reef Trust, have directed this investment to improve the condition of threatened species habitat.

The regional delivery stream of the National Landcare Program is supporting a further 33 projects that focus on priority birds and mammals from the Threatened Species Strategy (Table 2.4).

Additional projects to protect and recover the priority species in the strategy are being supported through other sources, including the national stream of the National Landcare Program.

Reviews of these projects against management plans for the priority species indicate that they are contributing to reducing the key threats to these species through implementation of priority actions. For example:

• At important eastern bristlebird habitat on Howe Flat, the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority is controlling predators through the ‘Protecting EPBC listed species on the East Gippsland coast through fox control’ project. The project involves community awareness-raising elements—another key action for the species's long-term recovery

• The Mallee Catchment Management Authority is delivering on key actions for malleefowl through the ‘Land managers and informed communities’ project. This includes helping landholders enter into covenants to protect key habitat, make management practice changes to reduce the impacts of grazing on the species and control key pests and weeds at priority locations

• The Norfolk Island green parrot breeding program has doubled the number of chicks successfully fledged by making greater efforts to manage rats on the island.

Table 2.4: Regional delivery projects focused on Threatened Species Strategy priorities

Bird species Number of projects

Eastern bristlebird 2

Regent honeyeater 2

Swift parrot 2

Malleefowl 9

Plains wanderer 2

Orange-bellied parrot 2

Southern cassowary 3

Red-tailed black cockatoo (south-eastern) 1

Hooded plover 1

Total 24

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 27 26 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Mammal species Number of projects

Greater bilby 3

Eastern barred bandicoot 1

Mahogany glider habitat 4

Western ringtail possum 1

Total 9

Criterion Increase in area of land on which farmers have adopted better management practices to improve their long-term yield by June 2018

Result Achieved

This criterion is relevant to activities under both the National Landcare Program and the Reef Trust.

Strategic objective two of the regional delivery stream states: ‘Farmers are increasing their long-term returns through better management of the natural resource base.’ During 2015-16, 90 projects were identified as delivering against this strategic objective.

Better land management practices were implemented in 2015-16 on:

• over 3 million ha under the National Landcare Program

• 527,280 ha under the Reef Trust.

Criterion Increase in area of land managed to reduce threats to nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities by June 2018 (for projects reporting through the online MERIT)

Result Achieved

The Reef Trust and National Landcare Program funded 307 projects that addressed threatened species or threatened ecological communities. Table 2.5 shows aggregated targets, as set out in grant applications, to reduce threats to species and communities across the 307 projects.

Table 2.5: Actions to target threats to species and communities

Grant application targets (ha)

Delivered in 2015 (ha)

Area covered by agreement mechanismsa 47,595 10,628

Area covered by pest treatment actions 2,243,182 842,096

Area of revegetation works 21,596 2271

New area treated for weeds 340,790 88,848

a Agreement mechanisms include binding conservation covenants and non-binding property agreements (e.g. land for wildlife agreements) that set out the agreed management intent and actions for the area.

28 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Objective: Mitigate key threats to nationally threatened species and ecological communities

Criterion Number of projects funded annually with a focus on threatened species recovery

Result Achieved

Australian Government investment in threatened species recovery is guided by the Threatened Species Strategy. During 2015-16, the former Minister approved 714 projects directed at mobilising action to benefit threatened species recovery. The majority of these projects were funded as part of the National Landcare Program (including 20 Million Trees) and Green Army, and will contribute to improving habitat condition to support threatened species (see Table 2.6).

Table 2.6: Projects with a threatened species focus

20 Million Trees Program Green Army Reef Trust or National Landcare Program Threatened Species Summit

Second grant round National service

provider

Fourth grant round

63 projects 10 large-scale revegetation projects

314 projects 307 projects 20 targeted threatened

species projects announced in partnership with states and territories

Criterion Reverse population decline in 20 mammal species by 2020

Result Achieved—based on progress against Threatened Species Strategy year-one actions

The Threatened Species Strategy includes the target of supporting better outcomes for at least 20 threatened mammal species by 2020. Following consultation with all state and territory governments, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, leading scientists and the community, 20 priority mammals were identified.

The target has three time frames: one, three and five years. Projects are currently in place for all 20 priority mammals. Early indications of success include:

• mountain pygmy possum numbers in New South Wales increasing as a result of using specially trained detector dogs to assist rangers to track and remove feral cats and foxes

• an estimated 250 western quolls being released in the South Australian Flinders Ranges, where they were once extinct as a result of predation from feral cats.

The strategy sets targets for improving recovery practices for threatened species, including better recovery guidance, governance arrangements and reporting. Consistent with the strategy’s year-one targets, updated recovery plans or conservation advices were developed for the initial eight priority mammals identified in the strategy.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 29 28 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Objective: Protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef

Criterion By June 2018, improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef from broad scale land use by reducing pollutant loads in priority areas, relative to 2008-09 baseline levels, by at least: 50 per cent for anthropogenic dissolved inorganic nitrogen; 60 per cent for pesticides; and 20 per cent for anthropogenic sediment and particulate nitrogen

Result Partially achieved

Reef plan report cards measure progress towards the Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan’s water quality goals and targets. The latest Reef plan report card, for 2014, was released on 21 September 2015. It shows a slight reduction in pollutant loads over the 2013-14 reporting period. Figure 2.1 shows results from 2008-09 to the latest report card.

www.environment.gov.au/marine/gbr/protecting-the-reef

Recent efforts to reduce land-based pollution in the Reef’s catchments will require further actions to protect the ecosystems from declining water quality by the target date of June 2018. More innovative approaches will be required to identify and embed the next generation of sustainable land management practices to achieve the required water quality improvements.

The case study ‘Farming microbes’ on page 34 demonstrates the potential for innovative approaches to achieve rapid, significant and sustainable change.

The Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan’s targets are considered ambitious. They seek to move land management to best practice in as wide an area as possible, which will improve water quality for the Reef.

To achieve the targets, the Australian Government continues to invest significantly in improving water quality in Great Barrier Reef catchments. The Reef program is delivering projects to improve water quality, systems repair, and monitoring and modelling. In 2015-16, the Department administered $9.90 million in funding through the Reef Trust for water quality projects.

Reef Trust projects contracted through the phase two and phase three investment programs contribute to:

• investments to help sugar cane farmers improve land management practices

• reducing erosion in grazing lands and managing the impact of erosion from gullies

• improving water quality in the grains, dairy and horticulture industries

• helping to control crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks on reefs with high tourism value.

Reef Trust investment strategy phase three was released on 4 December 2015. On 23 April 2016, the Government announced $11 million in funding through phase three for projects to improve water quality. On 26 April 2016, the Government announced $50 million in funding for water quality improvement projects led by the Queensland Farmers Federation in partnership with members of the Reef Alliance.

Water quality will continue to be the focus of Reef Trust investment: $106.4 million is to be allocated over four years to 2018-19.

30 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Figure 2.1: Great Barrier Reef pollutant load reductions

0%

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

Reporting year

% reduction in pollutant load

Reef Plan 2009

Particulate nitrogen

Particulate phosphorus

Dissolved inorganic nitrogen

Sediment

Pesticides toxic loads

Criterion Any EPBC Act approved offset delivered under the Reef Trust maintains or improves the condition of matters of national and state environmental significance

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

Reef Trust offset activities are expected to start in late 2016. The Department has progressed negotiations with three offset approval holders. As at 30 June 2016, $1.5 million in offset funds had been paid into the Reef Trust Special Account.

Criterion The Reef maintains its diversity of species and ecological habitats with a stable to improving trend

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

While there is considerable ongoing investment in activities to improve the condition of the Reef, to date our ability to monitor the impact of this investment on species and habitats has been limited. In July 2015, the Australian Government announced it would invest $8 million in the development of an integrated monitoring and reporting program for the Reef 2050 plan.

The monitoring and reporting program will enable assessment of the effectiveness of on-ground actions and investments to protect and restore the Reef’s values, address threats and ensure development and use of the Reef remains ecologically sustainable. It will monitor biophysical, heritage, water quality, social and economic changes that affect the Reef. This will inform an adaptive management approach to the Reef 2050 plan. The program is being developed collaboratively by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian and Queensland governments and scientific, industry and community partners.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 31 30 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Objective: Encourage community participation in protecting and conserving Australia’s nationally protected environment and heritage

Criterion Increase in the level of participation, skill-development or employment of Indigenous Australians, through natural resource management projects

Result Achieved

Green Army focuses on increasing the participation of young people and Indigenous Australians. The Green Army has successfully attracted a large number of Indigenous Australians: 16 per cent of its 5736 participants identify as Indigenous.

As of March 2016, recipient data for the National Landcare Program regional delivery stream indicated significant numbers of Indigenous Australians have been involved in the planning and delivery of project works: 467 in planning and 878 in delivery. At training events, 17 per cent of participants identified as Indigenous.

In 2015-16, around $13 million was invested in Indigenous NRM activities. This led to employment for around 50 people, five traineeships and development of a number of Indigenous on-country enterprises. The investment equates to around 11.5 per cent of total regional delivery stream funding.

Objective: Improve the extent, condition and connectivity of native vegetation to provide key habitat for nationally threatened species and ecological communities and sequester carbon

Criterion Increase in extent of native vegetation in project areas

Result Achieved

Due to the delay in receiving project data for 2015-16, it is only possible to report on the number and area of plants established during the 2015 calendar year. To indicate the trend over time, Table 2.7 provides the figure for the 2014 calendar year. These figures are sourced from MERIT.

Table 2.7: Plantings through Biodiversity Fund projects

2014 2015

Number of plants planted 3,701,882 2,994,443

Area revegetated (ha) 30,322 21,752

Criterion Number of natural resource management projects demonstrating maintenance or improvement in the condition of targeted threatened species habitat by June 2018

Result Achieved

In 2015, 328 active Biodiversity Fund projects were undertaking activities that are expected to maintain and/or improve the condition of threatened species habitat.

32 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Criterion Increase in area of land managed to reduce threats to nationally listed threatened species and ecological communities by July 2018

Result Achieved

As indicated against the first criterion above (see Table 2.7), Biodiversity Fund projects in 2015 planted 2,994,443 plants over 21,752 ha with the intention of increasing or improving vegetation extent, connectivity and/or condition. These plantings, alongside other on-ground actions including pest and weed treatment, are expected to help maintain or improve the condition of threatened species habitat by July 2018. Table 2.8 provides information on the areas treated for invasive animals and plants.

Table 2.8: Area treated for invasive animals and plants

2014 2015

Initial area treated for pests (ha) 12,102 619,529

Number of follow-up activities to re-treat for pests 20 129

Initial area treated for weeds (ha) 859,338 138,879

Number of follow-up activities to re-treat for weeds 313 297

Criterion Amount of carbon that has been sequestered through project investments

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

So far, 87 projects have signalled that they may register with the Emissions Reduction Fund, but only three have participated. As at 30 June 2016, the Kimberley Land Council Aboriginal Corporation and Biome5 Pty Ltd have been issued Australian carbon credit units, as detailed in Table 2.9.

Table 2.9: Australian Carbon Credit Units issued

Recipient

ACCUs issued 2012-13 ACCUs issued 2013-14

ACCUs issued 2014-15 ACCUs issued 2015-16

Kimberley Land Council Aboriginal Corporation

0 68,692 12,918 40,409

Biome5 Pty Ltd 0 0 0 12,866

Analysis against purpose

The Department is increasingly integrating its science spending and regulatory tools to facilitate economic development in a way that also protects key environmental assets. This approach enhances the capacity to target and address strategic priorities, and to adapt our approach to match the challenges in key areas around Australia. For example, the Green Army delivers multiple projects that, among other things, co-benefit our strategic priorities for threatened species and the Great Barrier Reef; and the Reef Trust uses reverse auctions and innovative financing mechanisms to help implement the Threatened Species Strategy.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 33 32 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Reporting periods for NRM programs administered by the Department do not align with annual reporting time frames. Grant recipients submit data reporting on the second half of the financial year in mid-August, and the data then undergo quality assurance. For this reason, combined with the integrated nature of the programs, it is not possible to conduct a complete and comprehensive assessment of outcomes and progress against criteria for the full 2015-16 financial year.

Given the lack of alignment between Green Army reporting periods and the annual report time frame, it is too early to comment definitively on the environmental impact of the program. However, we can report on some early social development results. The Green Army has outstanding community support, and 93 per cent of project hosts have indicated that they would like to participate in the program again. Indigenous participation rates are exceptionally high: 1150 participants (16 per cent) identify as Indigenous. Of the 1308 participants who left the program early, the majority (1032, or 79 per cent) left because they found another job or for reasons unrelated to the program.

Another factor that affects the Department’s ability to report annually against criteria is the time lag between project implementation and ecological outcomes. For example, in the Great Barrier Reef there has been significant progress in implementing the Reef 2050 plan, but improving the quality of water entering the Reef will take time and effort. Due to the extent of biogeochemical processes involved, it can take several years to see a response in the Reef’s marine system as a result of changing land management practices.

Current and future climatic factors have the potential to affect the success of projects under our NRM programs. We considered service providers’ proposed approaches to adapting to future climate conditions in our assessment of 20 Million Trees tranche two proposals, and we intend to further integrate climate adaptation into program design and delivery. To maximise the survival rates of native trees and vegetation delivered under the NRM programs, we require preparation and planning activities, such as weed removal, project design and seed collecting, before plantings take place. Plantings must occur in the right climatic conditions.

34 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

C ASE STUDY

Photo: Hand holding soil from a sugar cane field near Innisfail, northern Queensland (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

Farming microbes

Joe and Christine Muscat farm sugar cane on a 130 ha property near Oakenden, Queensland, south-west of Mackay. Mr Muscat’s family has been farming sugar cane on the property for 50 years.

Though they live inland, the Muscats have a direct connection with the Great Barrier Reef. Water from the Muscat farm runs into the Sandy Creek catchment and makes its way out to the Reef’s lagoon. The farm has a significant proportion of sandy soils which, combined with tropical wet season rainfall, means there is a significant risk of high nutrient run-off. This run-off contributes to poor-quality water entering the Reef and reduces farm productivity. The Muscats are seeking ways to address this impact and maintain the farm’s productivity.

Through support from the Australian Government’s Reef program, the Muscats have been able to invest in modifying the way they farm. They have focused on the biology and needs of the soil, incorporating organic material and applying nutrients more precisely. They have changed their farming practices to include rotational cropping, binding nitrogen and combating pests. They have undertaken laser levelling to ensure good drainage, tested soil to check pH, applied lime and dolomite to address mineral imbalances and introduced microbes to support soil biology.

Straight after harvesting, they apply chicken manure and guano and work it into the soil. They use recycled water to keep nutrients on farm, which ultimately benefits the Reef.

These investments and changed practices have resulted in lower tillage costs, less tractor operation time, better conservation of soil moisture and less risk of erosion.

The Muscats have reduced chemical fertiliser use from 700 kg/ha to 100-200 kg/ha, increased the amount of carbon in their soil and increased the soil’s water-holding capacity. They have achieved a 25 per cent higher yield of sugar cane per hectare above the district average, reduced compaction in the

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Continued next page 

harvesting process by 30 per cent and increased crop consistency by having good field drainage.

The Muscats have always been willing to share their experience and insights with other cane growers and have a history of trialling experimental and innovative farm practices. Future plans include introducing molasses and kelp to feed soil microbes, and they are looking at doing away with chemicals altogether and turning the farm into a biologically managed one.

The Reef program has enabled the Muscats to realise their vision of a productive sugar cane farm that has less impact on the Reef. Their efforts and achievements were recognised through nomination for the 2015 Reef program Sugarcane Grower Award.

C

ASE STUDY

Photo: Green Army participant Aaron Kinlock working on a fence designed to protect young plants from grazing kangaroos and rabbits at Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, Northern Territory (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

C ASE STUDY CONTINUED

Green Army—Olive Pink Botanic Garden

A Green Army team based at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden in Alice Springs achieved impressive environmental outcomes by controlling invasive weeds and landscaping high-use areas of the gardens to protect native vegetation.

A diverse range of native plants, including acacia, eucalyptus, grevillea and rhodanthe, have flourished as a result of the team controlling the infestation of buffel grass, which can significantly damage the natural biodiversity of an area.

The Olive Pink Botanic Garden is home to more than 2500 planted species. It showcases 600 species unique to central Australia, including important traditional bush food and medicinal species and 33 species that are listed as rare or vulnerable.

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C ASE STUDY CONTINUED To protect and conserve the collection, the Green Army team built a 65 m x 20 m fenced area to keep out pest animals and help maintain Olive Pink’s original plantings, which include ruby saltbush, elegant wattle, river red gum and clustered lovegrass. The team did it all by hand and regularly got up at 5.30 am to start work before the summer heat got too intense.

They installed an irrigation system, planted more than 200 plants in rejuvenated soil beds and created paths to control public access and protect the plants.

All of the participants were happy to be working outside with their hands. ‘That’s what I like about it: being outdoors, seeing nature’, said team member Dereece. They would all like to continue with this type of work if possible, using skills learned through the Green Army to perhaps work with an Indigenous rangers program in the future.

‘That’s what I like about it: being outdoors, seeing nature’ —Dereece, team member

Garden curator Ian Coleman praised the Green Army team: ‘What we’ve had is consistent work of a good quality and a lot of enthusiasm, and a very well-run operation by [team supervisor] Sara.’

‘What we’ve had is consistent work of a good quality and a lot of enthusiasm’—Garden curator Ian Coleman

Five of the nine members of the team are Indigenous. Because of projects like this one, the Green Army has already achieved its target of engaging 1000 Indigenous participants over the first five years of the program.

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Environment and heritage regulation

In 2015-16, the Department continued to deliver across a range of regulatory responsibilities, including national legislation covering environment and heritage protection, biodiversity conservation, product stewardship and hazardous substance management.

Among these is the EPBC Act, which is the Commonwealth’s central piece of environment legislation. The EPBC Act provides the legal framework for the Department to protect and manage Australia’s threatened species and ecological communities, whales and dolphins, internationally traded wildlife, world, national and Commonwealth heritage places, Commonwealth national parks and other protected terrestrial and marine areas.

The Department continues to progress initiatives to streamline assessment and approval arrangements under the EPBC Act to ensure swifter decisions and more certainty for Australian communities and businesses. For example, during 2015-16, 24 approvals were varied to include streamlined conditions. Of these, 21 included a condition allowing approval holders to make minor revisions to management plans without seeking approval and a further three included outcomes-based conditions.

These initiatives were informed by a new Outcomes-based condition policy and guidance, which sets out an approach to setting approval conditions that specify the environmental outcomes that must be achieved by an approval holder, without prescribing how that outcome should be achieved. Outcomes-based conditions give approval holders the flexibility to be innovative and achieve the required environmental outcomes in the most effective and efficient manner.

Separately, the Department has finalised an EPBC Act Condition-setting policy , which sets out a framework for considering state and territory approval conditions under the EPBC Act. This policy seeks to reduce regulatory duplication between jurisdictions by ensuring that the Commonwealth does not apply an approval condition if a state or territory condition is deemed acceptable.

www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications

The Department is continuing to pursue strategic assessments to provide streamlining through long-term approvals for development and better environmental outcomes by considering, and better managing, cumulative impacts of development on the environment. Strategic assessments now provide environment approvals for a range of development including urban expansions in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, offshore oil and gas mining in Commonwealth waters and new roads in New South Wales. Further strategic assessments are being pursued for developments including urban expansion in Perth, iron ore mining in Western Australia and coal mining in New South Wales.

In 2015-16, 27 EPBC projects were assessed under bilateral agreements: 11 in New South Wales, three in the Northern Territory, four in Queensland, two in Victoria and seven in Western Australia. No projects were referred in 2015-16 under the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and South Australia bilateral agreements. The figures for 2015-16 are based on the date the referral was received and do not include projects received in previous financial years and for which assessment was ongoing during 2015-16.

For more information on the Department’s operation of the EPBC Act, see Part 5, ‘Legislative reporting’ (page 246).

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The National Environmental Significance Threat Risk Assessment tool (NESTRA), first implemented in 2014, allows the Department to focus compliance monitoring on projects that pose the greatest risk to the environment. This has the effect of reducing the regulatory burden on projects that are low risk or on people who consistently do the right thing. During 2015-16, the Department inspected at least 20 per cent of higher-risk projects identified by the NESTRA tool to ensure compliance with project conditions. Twenty-nine high-risk projects were subject to a compliance monitoring inspection, and we reviewed all compliance and monitoring reports submitted for high-risk projects.

To ensure that the community continues to enjoy clean air, Australian environment ministers agreed, in December 2015, to the National Clean Air Agreement. The agreement focuses on a range of existing, new and complementary measures to reduce air pollution and improve air quality through cooperative action between industry and government at the national, state and local levels.

Heritage

Australia has a rich natural and cultural heritage that underpins our sense of place and national identity and makes a positive contribution to the nation’s wellbeing. The Australian Government supports heritage conservation through policies, grant programs, support for the Australian Heritage Council and engagement in international forums.

In December 2015, we launched the Australian Heritage Strategy to support the long-term protection of Australia’s heritage places. The strategy sets out a 10-year framework to deliver actions against three high-level outcomes: national leadership, strong partnerships and engaged communities.

www.environment.gov.au/heritage/australian-heritage-strategy

To help ensure that Australia’s World Heritage sites are managed in accordance with the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and National Heritage, the Australian Government provided $7.78 million through the National Landcare Program’s World Heritage grants. The funding helps World Heritage property managers to identify, protect, conserve, present, transmit to future generations and, where appropriate, rehabilitate the outstanding universal value of each property.

At its meeting in July 2015, the World Heritage Committee acknowledged Australia’s efforts to protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area through the Reef 2050 plan. For details on the implementation of the Reef 2050 plan, see ‘Sustainable management of natural resources’ on pages 21 and 29.

In April 2016, in response to a request from the World Heritage Committee, Australia submitted a state party report on the conservation condition of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The report restates Australia’s full commitment to protecting the outstanding universal value of the property and outlines the approach to ensuring that its integrity is maintained, including through the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to completing a new management plan for the property by December 2016.

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Protecting threatened species and ecological communities

The assessment and listing of species or ecological communities as threatened is a crucial first step to promoting their recovery under the EPBC Act. Once listed, the species or ecological community is recognised as a matter of national environmental significance and is protected by the EPBC Act’s assessment and approval provisions. Conservation advice and recovery plans made under the EPBC Act guide statutory decision-making and protection and recovery actions.

In 2015-16, 56 species were added to the list or had their threat category changed, and 15 species were removed from the list. Four threatened ecological communities were listed and one ecological community listing was removed.

www.environment.gov.au/topics/threatened-species-ecological-communities

At the Threatened Species Summit held in July 2015, the then Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, launched the Threat abatement plan for predation by feral cats—a component of the Threatened Species Strategy. Feral cats are estimated to kill millions of native animals across Australia every day and require on-ground control to minimise impacts on threatened species and on biodiversity more broadly. The plan provides the scientific basis for feral cat action and a national framework for reducing the impact of feral cats on Australia’s biodiversity. For further information on the strategy see page 23.

www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/tap/threat-abatement-plan-feral-cats

The Department published new recovery plans and conservation advices for listed species and ecological communities. Recovery plans were made for four priority species identified in the Threatened Species Strategy: mallee emu wren, orange-bellied parrot, mountain pygmy-possum and plains wanderer. Conservation advices were approved for 176 species. Four new ecological community conservation advices were approved and one new ecological community recovery plan was made. For more information on recovery plans and conservation advices see Part 5, ‘Legislative reporting’, page 253.

The Department reached agreement with the states and territories to adopt a nationally consistent approach to assessing and listing threatened species and ecological communities based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. This will simplify and streamline assessment of threatened species and ecological communities among jurisdictions. In October 2015, the agreement to adopt a common assessment method commenced implementation, with the signatures of Western Australia and the Commonwealth. The Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have since signed the agreement, and a meeting of environment ministers in December 2015 affirmed national commitment to the common assessment method.

The Australian Government has committed $5.3 million over three years to the National Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan 2014-2017 under the Reef 2050 plan and the Reef Trust. The protection plan improves protection of marine turtles and dugong, supporting the long-term recovery and survival of these migratory species. Key achievements under the plan include:

› strengthened enforcement and compliance in Queensland and the Torres Strait through the creation of five new Indigenous compliance officer positions and three Indigenous community liaison positions, and through compliance training for 20 Indigenous rangers

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Annual Performance Statements

› accreditation of a Traditional Use of Marine Resource Agreement with the Gunggandji traditional owners on 28 June 2016. The agreement establishes three no-take areas for turtles and dugong around Green Island, Michaelmas Cay and Fitzroy Island in Queensland.

www.environment.gov.au/marine/publications/national-dugong-and-turtle-protection-plan-2014-2017

Achievements in international and regional engagement

Australia successfully negotiated amendments to the annexes of the Republic of Korea-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (ROKAMBA) and the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA). These amendments reflect progress in the knowledge of bird migration since the agreements entered into force. The changes to the ROKAMBA annex were agreed on 3 September 2015 and came into force on 3 December 2015. The changes to the JAMBA annex were agreed on 9 March 2016 and came into force on 9 June 2016. The EPBC Act migratory species list has since been amended to reflect these changes: three species have been added and 15 species have been removed. Updating the annexes and the migratory species list is a significant achievement and the realisation of several years of scientific, technical and diplomatic effort.

A record 32 species were listed in the appendices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) in November 2014. A number of these species occur in Australia. Nine CMS-listed species were included on the list of migratory species under the EPBC Act on 16 September 2015: the silky shark, the reef manta ray, four sawfish and three mobula rays. Listing of these species as migratory under the EPBC Act fulfils Australia’s domestic requirements and makes it an offence to kill, injure, take or move any of them in Commonwealth waters.

To help protect species threatened by international trade, Australia contributed to regional and international measures promoting legal, well-managed and sustainable trade in wildlife. We funded and provided technical assistance to two workshops in the Oceania region to build capacity for effective implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and encourage new signatories to the convention. The CITES secretariat and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development agreed on the Oceania region as a priority to pilot a new wildlife trade permitting and reporting system.

Australia contributed to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Declaration on Combating Wildlife Trafficking and global agreements on measures to combat poaching and wildlife crime, including the United Nations Resolution on Tackling Illicit Trade in Wildlife and the United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution on Illegal Trade in Wildlife.

The Department worked in the Pacific Ocean and Coral Triangle regions to support countries’ aims for sustainable management of their marine resources, including through the secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program and two associated Australia-funded aid programs.

The Department continued to uphold Australia’s international treaty obligations to control the impact of wastes and hazardous substances and improve the quality of the environment and human health. During 2015-16, this involved actions relating to chemicals, product stewardship, fuel quality standards, oil, hazardous waste, national environment protection measures, ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gas.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 41 40 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

We satisfied Australia’s obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal and related international agreements by ensuring prior informed consent for Australian transboundary movements of hazardous waste. We achieved this by delivering national hazardous waste reports on time and cooperating with countries as required to resolve incidents where hazardous waste shipments could not be completed as planned.

The Department is preparing a regulation impact statement for the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and for the inclusion of new chemicals under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Results against key performance indicators

Objective: Identify, conserve and protect nationally significant natural, Indigenous and historic heritage places

Criterion Australia’s objectives for engagement in international forums on heritage, wildlife, the marine environment and biodiversity are achieved

Result Achieved

In 2015-16, the Department led engagement and represented Australia’s interests in a range of international heritage forums. Results related to our engagement in international forums on wildlife, the marine environment and biodiversity are provided in response to other objectives (see pages 45 and 47).

We worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to pursue Australia’s international priorities for the Great Barrier Reef and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage areas at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee, held from 28 June to 8 July 2015 in Bonn, Germany. At this meeting the World Heritage Committee acknowledged Australia’s efforts to protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area through our creation of the Reef 2050 plan. For more information on the Reef 2050 plan see ‘Sustainable management of natural resources’ on pages 21 and 29.

To provide a funding source for activities agreed between Australia and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that focus on building World Heritage capacity in the Asia-Pacific and strengthening the integrity of the World Heritage Convention, we established a UNESCO-Australia funds-in-trust arrangement. Australia has driven the development of policy guidelines for the World Heritage Convention and provided $305,000 through the trust in 2015-16. The project is strengthening the policy framework of the convention by bringing together all World Heritage Committee policy decisions into one compendium.

42 D epartment of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Criterion Documentation published under the EPBC Act on significant natural, Indigenous and historic heritage places supports their protection and management

Result Achieved

The EPBC Act improves the management and protection of Australia’s heritage places. It provides for the listing of natural, historic or Indigenous places that have outstanding heritage value to Australia and of heritage places on Commonwealth lands and waters or under Australian Government control.

Once a heritage place is listed under the EPBC Act, the Act operates to ensure that the values of the place will be protected and conserved for future generations.

During 2015-16, the following places were added to the National Heritage List:

• The Burke, Wills, King and Yandruwandha National Heritage Place (South Australia and Queensland) recognises the achievements of the Burke and Wills expedition and those of the subsequent relief parties that substantially added to the geographic knowledge of Australia. The site recognises the support provided by the Yandruwandha Aboriginal people as the expedition passed through their traditional lands.

• Fitzgerald River National Park and Lesueur National Park, both located in the south-west of Western Australia, were added to the list in recognition of their outstanding diversity of native plant species, including many plants that are unique to their local area.

Through the annual finalised priority assessment lists, the Minister determines which places the Australian Heritage Council will assess for inclusion on the National Heritage List and Commonwealth Heritage List each year. Four places were added to this list in 2015-16, including Sydney’s Centennial Park and Watarrka (Kings Canyon) National Park in the Northern Territory.

During 2015-16, a further eight places were added to the Commonwealth Heritage List: six air traffic control towers, the Bundanon Trust Property in New South Wales and the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra. The Australian Government, the New South Wales Government and Parramatta City Council signed a conservation agreement to protect World Heritage and National Heritage values of Old Government House and Government Domain, Parramatta.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 43 42 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Criterion All Australian property included on the list of World Heritage is well managed4

Result Achieved

The EPBC Act provides a framework for developing management plans for Australia’s World Heritage properties, including through a series of World Heritage management principles that set out how the significant heritage aspects of each place should be managed.

Management plans are in place for all World Heritage properties managed by the Australian Government. The Commonwealth components of two World Heritage properties (Ningaloo Coast in Western Australia and the Lord Howe Island Group in New South Wales) are under transitional management arrangements until new management plans for the Commonwealth marine reserves, within which these properties are located, are finalised. State and territory governments are responsible for managing most of Australia’s World Heritage places. As at 30 June 2016, management plans for eight of these World Heritage properties were under review or being updated.

In April 2016, the Department hosted a workshop to update state and territory senior officials on recent international developments relating to the management of Australia’s World Heritage properties. The workshop strengthened relationships between the states, property managers and the Department. State government representatives and executive officers for World Heritage properties gained more understanding of Australia’s World Heritage obligations, including review and reporting requirements and processes such as that for nominating properties for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

In November 2015, a joint International Union for Conservation of Nature and International Council on Monuments and Sites reactive monitoring mission visited the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The Australian and Tasmanian governments have accepted all recommendations of the mission report, which was published on 20 March 2016. Australia’s state party report on the conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area was submitted on 8 April 2016 for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in Istanbul in July 2016.

No Australian World Heritage property was placed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger, reflecting Australia’s continued good stewardship of World Heritage places. The World Heritage Committee welcomed Australia’s efforts to protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area through the Reef 2050 plan at its meeting in July 2015.

www.environment.gov.au/heritage/management/commonwealth

4

4 T his criterion was amended from ‘No Australian property is included on the list of World Heritage ‘in danger’ in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015-16.

44 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Criterion Australian support through the Kokoda Initiative enables the protection of the region’s important heritage values5

Result Achieved

The Kokoda Initiative is a cooperative agreement, run jointly by the governments of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Australia, to sustainably develop and protect the Kokoda Track, Owen Stanley Ranges and Brown River Catchment. Through the Kokoda Initiative, the natural, cultural and historic values of the region have been identified.

In 2015-16, the Kokoda Track remained open and threats of closure were successfully managed. Australian leadership of the Kokoda Initiative was transferred from our Department to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Our key achievements in 2015-16 include:

• collaborating with PNG partners to design, build and install interpretive signage on the Kokoda Track

• completing cultural heritage management plans for the military heritage sites of Blamey’s Garden and the Lost Battlefield on the Kokoda Track

• launching the Kokoda Initiative oral history book Voices from the war

• completing a biodiversity gap analysis of the Owen Stanley Ranges and a survey of exotic species along the Kokoda Track

• completing a ‘road map’ outlining key steps and resources to progress a World Heritage nomination for the Owen Stanley Ranges.

www.environment.gov.au/heritage/international-projects/papua-new-guinea

5

5 This criterion was amended from ‘Australian support through the Kokoda Initiative enables the track to remain open and safe during the trekking season’ in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015-16.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 45 44 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Objective: Protect and conserve Australia’s threatened species, ecological communities and migratory species

Criterion Australia’s objectives for engagement in international forums on heritage, wildlife, the marine environment and biodiversity are achieved

Result Achieved

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species

The Department increased engagement of state parties in the CMS through representing the Oceania region at the 44th Standing Committee meeting in October 2015. This involved extensive consultation with regional colleagues on finance, reorganisation of the CMS Scientific Council, and the proposed review mechanism for the convention.

We helped newly nominated Oceania representatives to participate effectively at the first meeting of the Sessional Committee of the Scientific Council in April 2016 to ensure that Oceania’s and Australia’s interests were considered.

The CMS Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks held its second meeting of signatories in Costa Rica in February 2016. Australia represents Oceania on the MoU advisory committee. The meeting agreed to list 22 new shark species under the MoU; 15 of these occur within Australian waters and 10 are already protected under the EPBC Act.

Whales and whaling

Australia remained an active member of the International Whaling Commission and continued to drive its conservation agenda, including as chair of the commission’s Standing Working Group on Conservation Management Plans. The Australian Government contributed $1.7 million to the commission to pursue governance reform of the commission and support non-lethal cetacean research in the Southern Ocean. Australia made representations at the highest level urging Japan not to resume whaling in the Southern Ocean in the 2015-16 Austral summer. This included participating with 32 other countries in a joint diplomatic demarche (protest) to the Government of Japan.

Marine environment

In 2016, Australian officials began working with the United Nations to inform development of a legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction to ensure that Australia’s environmental interests are taken into account.

The Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI) is a multi-donor regional initiative supporting sustainable economic development through effective marine and coastal management and use in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. The Department successfully negotiated an extension of this program to 2017-18 and worked to ensure that grant commitments were appropriately implemented to achieve Australia’s objectives. Result against this criterion continued over page.

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Criterion Australia’s objectives for engagement in international forums on heritage, wildlife, the marine environment and biodiversity are achieved

Result Achieved

The Department, through Australian aid funds, contributes to the Coral Triangle Initiative and the Enhancing Pacific Oceans Governance Initiative by:

• providing a staff member to work for the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner, which has improved coordination across the Pacific on oceans issues and supported Pacific Island countries (and United Nations missions) in negotiations on the proposed United Nations treaty on biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction

• committing $2.8 million in grants to deliver better governance and capacity for sustainable use of marine natural resources in the region

• providing funding for the Solomon Islands resulting in a 70 per cent increase in the number of mapped and recorded nationally protected areas and the identification of gaps in coverage of habitat types under protection

• funding a multi-year project focusing on fishing and planning in the Indonesian district of Rote-N dao to raise awareness of sustainable fishing and the impact of overfishing among local fishers and government agencies. There are now tools and guidelines for local demersal fisheries (living near the sea floor), and an international fishing company has agreed to seek more mature fish.

Criterion Public access and use of the Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database, as indicated by the average monthly number of unique page views of the SPRAT website, does not fall below 40,000

Result Achieved

The Species Profile and Threats database is an important source of public information about species and ecological communities listed under the EPBC Act. It includes information on all listed species, ecological communities and key threatening processes, as well as providing access to:

• statutory documents such as conservation advices, recovery plans and threat abatement plans

• non-statutory documents, including SPRAT profiles, referral guidelines, survey guidelines and information guides.

In 2015-16, the SPRAT database has been continuously accessible on the Department’s website and received an average of 63,000 unique page views a month. This is equivalent to the average number of views from 2014-15. In addition, to allow for a wider range of uses, a subset of the SPRAT data was published on www.data.gov.au in March 2016.

www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/sprat.pl

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 47 46 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Objective: Protect internationally traded flora and fauna consistent with national and international obligations

Criterion Australia’s objectives for engagement in international forums on heritage, wildlife, the marine environment and biodiversity are achieved

Result Achieved

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

The Department represented Australia and the Oceania region at three CITES committee meetings during 2015-16. A number of issues of interest to Australia were advanced at these meetings, including measures to combat illegal trade in rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory and the introduction of electronic systems for issuing and validating wildlife trade permits. As chair of the CITES Needs Assessment Working Group, Australia reported on the results of a global review of technological, logistical and equipment needs to strengthen the implementation of CITES, particularly in the Oceania region. Australia advanced a proposal to promote the publication of scientific information supporting assessments determining sustainability of trade in CITES-listed species.

Australia provided funding for and attended the second International Union for Conservation of Nature Pacific Islands Species Forum in July 2015. The forum explored species loss in the Pacific and included dedicated sessions on sustainable wildlife trade. A technical workshop on the effective implementation of CITES targeted capacity-building among current Pacific Island parties and encouraged new parties to join the convention.

Australia continued to contribute to regional and international efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade, including the United Nations Resolution on Tackling Illicit Trade in Wildlife; the United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution on Illegal Trade in Wildlife; the G20 Anti-corruption Working Group Action Plan; the United Kingdom Anti-Corruption Summit; the Save Wildlife Conference hosted by the Government of the Netherlands; and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Declaration on Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

Objective: Ensure sustainable development outcomes by regulating impacts on matters of national environmental significance 678

Criterion The number of hectares of habitat protected by offsets 6 compared with the area impacted7 for approved projects8

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

There is generally a time lag between an offset being identified as a condition to a project approval and the offset being secured. The Department currently has data on secured offsets that underestimates the area that will be protected in the longer term.

In contrast, referral documentation captures the maximum extent of the impact and not the development footprint, thereby overestimating the area of impact. Data availability for this performance measure will be addressed over time.

6 L ocation data available is only for offsets that have been secured.

7 P roject footprint.

8 T his criterion was amended from ‘The extent of habitat for listed species and ecological communities that is (1) maximum impacted area and (2) secured protected area as a result of environmental assessment’ in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015-16.

48 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Criterion The number and area of strategic assessments completed has increased:

• the number of strategic assessments completed in 2015-16

• km²/ha already approved under strategic assessments

Result Achieved

Strategic assessments are landscape-scale assessments that consider a broader set of actions than project-by-project assessments. During 2015-16, strategic assessments were under way in most states and territories.

On 7 September 2015, the former Minister endorsed the strategic assessment for New South Wales road and traffic management works and subsequently approved a class of actions relating to rudimentary, small-scale road and traffic management works. The assessment covered an area of 800,000 km2. It considered impacts on listed threatened species and ecological communities and on listed migratory species if the works are undertaken in accordance with New South Wales Government Roads and Maritime Services procedures and guidelines for environmental assessment and decision-making. Some essential road and traffic management works undertaken by Roads and Maritime Services now do not require further consideration under the EPBC Act if undertaken in accordance with the approval.

Criterion Estimated number of projects that did not require referral to the Department as these projects are able to be assessed under an approved Strategic Assessment

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

The Department does not collect this information. State and territory governments have responsibility for implementing the endorsed plan, policy or program following a strategic assessment.

Objective: Protect the environment through national approaches to appropriately manage wastes and hazardous substances

Criterion 98 per cent of the population provided with access to TV and computer recycling services9:

• 50 per cent of total TV and computer waste is recycled nationally in 2015-16

• 90 per cent of recycled material is recovered for re-use

Result Achieved

Early analysis indicates that industry administrators under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme have met the targets for 2015-16. Data will be available in November 2016.

9

9 This criterion was amended from ‘98 per cent of the population provided with access to TV and computer recycling services: 37 per cent of total TV and computer waste is recycled nationally in 2015-16; 90 per cent of recycled materials derived from recycling recovered for re-use’ in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015-16.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 49 48 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Criterion Annual imports of ozone depleting substances do not exceed 28 ozone-depleting potential tonnes in 2015

Result Achieved

In 2015, Australia met its obligations under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Our imports of controlled ozone-depleting substances were 25.99 ozone-depleting potential tonnes, compared with our Montreal Protocol limit of 73.17 ozone-depleting potential tonnes. This significant reduction is a result of the long-term agreement with industry to accelerate the phase-o ut of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

Criterion Collaboration with government, industry and the community through national approaches results in increased recycling and a reduction in the amount of waste and hazardous substances being released into the environment

Result Achieved

Progress was made during 2015-16 on a number of national collaborative initiatives.

In July 2015, environment ministers agreed to develop a national standard for environmental risk management of industrial chemicals. The aim of the national standard is to protect the environment through better management of industrial chemicals and to provide a nationally consistent, transparent and predictable approach for environmental risk management of industrial chemicals. The national standard is intended to be in full operation in jurisdictions by 2018.

Under section 108A of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, the Minister must publish an annual list of classes of products being considered during the next financial year for some form of accreditation or regulation under the Act. Paint, which the former Minister had listed for 2015-16, was removed from the list following the launch of Paint Back—an industry-led recycling scheme funded by a levy on new paint at point of sale. The former Minister’s 2016-17 list of priority products was published in May 2016. It includes plastic microbeads, batteries, photovoltaic systems, electrical and electronic products and plastic oil bottles.

Some national collaborative initiatives were delayed due to resource constraints. Industry organisations with established voluntary product stewardship schemes continued to ask the Department to issue a call for voluntary product stewardship accreditation. This is tentatively scheduled for late 2016.

The Department has requested state data for the third National Waste Report to enable us to deliver the report by March 2017.

Criterion 250 megalitres of used oil recovered for re-use annually over a three-year average under the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000

Result Achieved

In 2015-16, 251 ML of used oil was recovered for re-use under the Product Stewardship for Oil Scheme, maintaining an average of 251 ML a year over the past three years (see Table 2.10).

Table 2.10: Oil recovered for re-use under the Product Stewardship for Oil Scheme

2013-14 2014-15 2015-16

Oil recovered (ML) 256 247 251

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Analysis against purpose

A strategic focus for Australia in the last year to limit illegal trade in species was a global review of technological, logistical and equipment needs to strengthen international implementation of the CITES. This review highlighted the significant challenges faced by many countries in the Oceania region. Trade in CITES-listed species is an important part of the economies of Pacific Island countries. Mechanisms to support sustainable wildlife trade are becoming increasingly critical for the region, particularly as CITES lists more commercially important marine and timber species. Australia worked with the CITES secretariat and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development to confirm Oceania as the priority region to pilot a new wildlife trade permitting and reporting system. The system has the potential to support legal, well-managed, sustainable international wildlife trade opportunities in the Pacific by improving capacity to implement the convention. Implementation of the project depends on formal commitment of Pacific Island CITES parties to introduce and implement the system and to strengthen links with the CITES secretariat and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The key initiative for heritage protection was the launching of the Australian Heritage Strategy. To ensure that we are effectively managing Australia’s World, national, Indigenous and Commonwealth heritage, the Department initiated a project to ensure that the Australian Heritage Council is informed about the ongoing condition of the Indigenous, historic and natural heritage values of National Heritage List places and the challenges faced by the communities and managers that care for them. This work seeks to champion the development and implementation of high-quality management plans for all listed places. In the initial stage we have established baseline data on the condition of heritage places to support later stages of the project. This project will strengthen the integrity of Australia’s National Heritage system and ensure that National Heritage places are protected and can be enjoyed by the Australian community.

In terms of environmental regulation, the Department met most of its statutory time frames in the areas of environmental protection and environmental health, and we continue to provide high-quality assessments on matters of national environmental significance and pursue opportunities for improvement and streamlining. We continued to lead the development of frameworks and reforms relating to air, fuels and chemicals. Our compliance and enforcement activities remained of a high standard, playing a very significant part in ensuring that objectives of legislation are met (see Part 5, 'Legislative reporting' for further information).

We continue to invest in our IT systems to improve the capture and analysis of better data. We are working to improve data transparency and access with state and territory governments, which will progressively increase our capacity to report on performance measures.

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C ASE STUDY

Photo: Fishing trawlers at anchor, Smiths Inlet, Cairns (© Copyright Arthur Mosted and Department of the Environment and Energy)

Longer-term export approvals for low-risk fisheries

The EPBC Act requires the Australian Government to assess the environmental performance of fisheries and promote ecologically sustainable management for all fisheries that export product from Australia. The Department is responsible for this work.

In 2015, the former Minister agreed to extend the period of export approval of low-risk fisheries from five years to 10 years. Our risk assessment of the 130 fisheries we currently assess identified that over half pose a low risk to the environment and may be eligible for longer EPBC Act export approvals. Low-risk fisheries are those that have been found to comply with the Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries and are likely to continue to do so. These fisheries have well-managed target stocks, robust monitoring of bycatch and negligible or little interaction with protected species. Benefits and outcomes from this decision include:

› providing an incentive for other fisheries to move to the same environmental standard, thereby reducing the regulatory burden

› allowing jurisdictions to save time and resources.

In 2015-16, we assessed 30 fisheries as being eligible for 10-year export approval through inclusion on the List of Exempt Native Specimens. We assessed an additional 13 fisheries as eligible for either five-year export approval through inclusion on the exempt list or three-year export approval as wildlife trade operations.

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Photo: Eastern curlews, Penrice Salt, South Australia (© Copyright Brian Furby and the Department of the Environment and Energy)

International Single-Species Action Plan for the Conservation of Eastern Curlew

The eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) is the largest shorebird in the world. Its size (900 g) and very long bill (19 cm) distinguish it from similar species in Australia and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. It is endemic to the flyway, breeding in Russia, Mongolia and China and migrating as far as New Zealand. Declining numbers at the eastern curlew’s staging and non-breeding sites caused the Australian Government to list the species as critically endangered under the EPBC Act in 2015.

Acknowledging the eastern curlew’s severe decline, the Australian Government initiated the development of an international single-species action plan under the auspices of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership with the support of our bilateral migratory bird agreement partners Japan, China and the Republic of Korea and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. International single-species action plans are an important instrument to promote and coordinate activities that seek to protect and restore habitat and to mitigate obstacles to migration and other controlling factors that might endanger species.

For the past two years, all range states, convention parties, flyway partners, relevant non-government organisations and researchers have been actively engaged in developing the action plan. The plan is designed to outline an internationally agreed list of activities necessary along the flyway to increase understanding of the species's status, halt its decline and support its long-term survival. It addresses key threats at important sites along the flyway, ranging from breeding grounds, stopover (or staging) points and non-breeding sites.

The action plan will provide guidance for range states, convention parties, flyway partners, conservationists, researchers and habitat managers over the next decade while providing a model for further advancing migratory bird conservation throughout the flyway.

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Photo: Cumulus clouds formed from intense bushfires as seen from El Dorado, King Valley, Victoria (© Copyright John Baker and Department of the Environment and Energy)

Phase-out of ozone-depleting substances

Since controls were introduced in 1989, Australia has phased out over 99.8 per cent of its imports and manufacture of ozone-depleting substances. Action taken by Australia and the rest of the world will allow the ozone layer to recover to pre-1980 levels before 2050 if all countries continue to meet their phase-out obligations.

The Australian Government and industry have worked together closely to meet or exceed the phase-out obligations under the Montreal Protocol. Australia reached the second-last reduction point in the phase-out of HCFCs from January 2016, reducing imports to 2.5 ozone-depleting potential tonnes a year. This is four years ahead of our obligations under the Montreal Protocol and means that we will use 60 per cent less HCFCs than permitted under the protocol.

The accelerated phase-out has been achieved through a close long-term partnership with industry. The Government and industry jointly agreed to an accelerated HCFC phase-out in the early 1990s, with the Government setting the reduction steps and timing and industry deciding how it would achieve the phase-out. This long-term certainty has enabled a smooth transition from HCFCs, avoiding premature equipment retirement, HCFC shortages and price spikes.

The phase-out of ozone-depleting substances in Australia has reduced our annual greenhouse gas emissions from chlorofluorocarbons, HCFCs and hydrofluorocarbons from over 100 million carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes (tCO2-e) in 1989 to less than 12 million tCO2-e in 2015. Better handling and recovery requirements in the refrigeration, air conditioning and fire protection sectors, driven by industry and supported by legislation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by around 28 million tCO2-e between 2004 and 2013.

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Photo: Aerial view of the mining township of Mount Tom Price and the surrounding countryside, Western Australia (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

Strategic assessments

Strategic assessments are landscape-scale assessments that consider a much broader set of actions and issues than project-by-project assessments. They are designed to be flexible, and they provide opportunities to reach negotiated outcomes and remove duplication while maintaining standards. They have greater potential to deal with cumulative impacts and to integrate both conservation and planning outcomes.

BHP Billiton Pilbara strategic assessment

The BHP Billiton strategic assessment, covering an area in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, is assessing the cumulative impacts of landscape-scale iron ore mining by BHP Billiton Iron Ore Pty Ltd.

The Department has been working closely with BHP Billiton for the past 12 months to ensure that the strategic assessment delivers substantial and demonstrable environmental outcomes and that the underlying documentation and commitments provide certainty that the outcomes can be attained over the life of the approval. In 2016-17, we will continue to work with BHP Billiton to finalise the strategic assessment for submission to the Minister for consideration.

Perth and Peel regions strategic assessment

The Perth and Peel strategic assessment is assessing the Western Australian Government’s regional development plans across the Perth and Peel regions. It aims to accommodate predicted population growth from 2 million to 3.5 million over the next 30 years. The assessment covers an area of 8210 km2.

The Department is working with the state government to support consultation on the plan and set clear environmental outcomes. In 2016-17, we will continue to work with Western Australia to finalise the strategic assessment for submission to the Minister for consideration.

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Climate change Purpose: Develop and implement a national response to climate change

Reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions and support adaptation to climate change

The Department helps to develop and implement a national response to climate change through policies and programs that reduce emissions by boosting energy productivity, reducing waste, increasing renewable energy and driving innovation. The Government’s policies are addressing climate change while helping to reduce costs for households and businesses.

Emissions Reduction Fund

The Emissions Reduction Fund provides incentives for emissions reduction activities across the Australian economy through crediting, purchasing and safeguarding reductions. As at 30 June 2016, the Emissions Reduction Fund had contracted 143 million tonnes of emissions reductions over three auctions at an average price of $12.10 a tonne. The safeguard mechanism, introduced on 1 July 2016, will ensure that emissions reductions that the Government has purchased are not displaced by significant increases in emissions above business-as-usual levels elsewhere in the economy. This mechanism requires Australia’s largest emitters to keep emissions within baseline levels. It will cover around 140 large businesses that have facilities with direct emissions of more than 100,000 tCO2-e a year. This represents about half of Australia’s emissions.

During 2015, the Department established the legislative framework so that the safeguard mechanism could begin operating from 1 July 2016. The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Safeguard Mechanism) Rule 2015 became law in October 2015. Its timely passage was made possible by broad and effective consultations with other government agencies, interested businesses and members of the community.

Emissions reduction targets

Australia is on track to meet its 2020 target reducing its emissions to five per cent below 2000 levels by 2020. At the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015, Australia committed to reduce its emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Renewable Energy Target

The Renewable Energy Target is designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector and encourage additional generation of electricity from sustainable and renewable sources. It works by creating a market that provides financial incentives to both large-scale renewable energy power stations and the owners of small-scale systems. Every megawatt hour of energy they generate from a sustainable or renewable source creates a certificate that they can sell to electricity retailers, which then sell the electricity to householders and businesses. The electricity retailers have legal obligations under the target to surrender certificates to the Clean Energy Regulator, in percentages set by regulation each year.

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International engagement

The Department leads Australian negotiations on land sector issues through the UNFCCC and builds support for rainforest recovery efforts as well as other activities. Australia has internationally recognised expertise in estimating greenhouse gas emissions from the land and forest sector. The ability of countries to accurately measure, report and verify land sector greenhouse gas emissions will support efforts to slow, halt and then reverse vegetation loss across the Asia-Pacific region. We shared our emissions accounting expertise through a range of successful capacity development projects in 2015-16.

Through the Department, Australia is contributing to the Global Forest Observations Initiative by developing methods and guidance documentation for measurement, reporting and verification capacity building to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and to foster conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (see the case study ‘Global Forest Observations Initiative’ on page 64).

International capacity development projects supported by the Australian Government

System for Land-based Emissions Estimation in Kenya (SLEEK): The SLEEK Program is allowing the Government of Kenya to implement a measurement, reporting and verification system for the land sector, enabling emissions reporting to the UNFCCC. The system has broader application for natural resource management and can inform improvements to agricultural productivity. Australia has been involved in the program’s design and delivery since March 2012. The system has been functional and under full ownership of the Kenyan government since May 2016. In July 2015, the SLEEK Program Management Unit was established in the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Resources. The unit will have ultimate responsibility for the administration of all aspects of SLEEK. During 2015-16, day-to-day responsibilities were transferred from the implementing partner to the unit.

www.sleek.environment.go.ke

Indonesian National Carbon Accounting System (INCAS): Australia has helped the Indonesian government to successfully develop a national land sector accounting system consistent with international best practice for emissions measurement, reporting and verification. Indonesia now has a world-leading forest monitoring system that informs the development of forest conservation policies and facilitates international reporting, including the submission of land sector emissions reports to the UNFCCC. INCAS was officially launched at the Global Landscapes Forum side event at the Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in Paris in December 2015 and was endorsed by Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry.

www.incas-indonesia.org

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South African measurement, reporting and verification capacity development: Australia has helped South Africa to develop a strategic plan to measure, report and verify its land sector emissions. This is allowing South Africa to fulfil its UNFCCC reporting requirements, undertake domestic mitigation actions and participate in future carbon market mechanisms. The strategic plan was finalised in February 2016, and the Department is supporting its initial implementation until March 2017.

The Department has begun bilateral cooperation with China and Thailand to help with their capacity for greenhouse gas emission measurement, reporting and verification systems. Robust systems will be essential for the successful implementation of the Paris climate change agreement.

Climate change adaptation

The Department supports research and produces practical information and tools for businesses, governments and communities to help them identify climate change impacts and appropriate actions they can take. Our climate adaptation work links closely with our environmental science and research enabling activity (see pages 82-86). This work improves our understanding of climate change and promotes informed decision-making.

For example, we are working with the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility to develop a coastal climate risk management tool that will provide local governments and communities in the coastal zone with the skills, information and tools to support effective decision-making. We publish methodologies that help Australian businesses and households to take practical, direct action to improve energy efficiency and save money on their electricity bills.

In December 2015, the Australian Government released its National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy. This strategy sets out how Australia is managing climate risks for the benefit of the community, economy and environment. It identifies a set of principles to guide effective adaptation practices and resilience building, and outlines the Government’s vision for the future. As part of the strategy, the Department has:

› established a Commonwealth interagency working group to consider cross-cutting risks and opportunities arising from climate change and natural disasters and to lead future consultation with business and communities about building resilience and adapting to climate change

› engaged the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand to implement the Learning to Adapt: National Climate Change Adaptation Professional Development Program. The course was delivered in three modules over three days during April, May and June 2016 and attracted strong interest from Commonwealth, state, territory and local government representatives. An action-learning approach whereby participants volunteer projects and conduct them in the workplace context has encouraged peer-to-peer learning and the development of new communities of practice.

The Climate Change in Australia website, developed in collaboration with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology, provides comprehensive technical and regional reports, a wealth of data, decision-making tools and other resources. Between January 2015 and February 2016, the website received over

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120,000 unique site visits and attracted over 800 registered users. Feedback on the value of the reports and the projections of future climate on the website indicated broad use by a variety of research users and decision-makers.

www.climatechangeinaustralia.gov.au

Results against key performance indicators

Objective: Meet Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets

Criterion Australia’s annual emissions are consistent with meeting the Government’s 2020 target to reduce emissions by 5 per cent based on 2000 levels

Result Achieved

The Department published Australia’s emissions projections, Tracking to 2020, in December 2015 and updated them in a fact sheet released in April 2016.

www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/publications/factsheet-tracking-to-2020-april-2016-update

The latest release indicates that Australia is expected to surpass its 2020 cumulative abatement task by 78 million tCO2-e and is better placed to achieve its 2030 target of reducing emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels. The December 2015 projections were included in Australia’s second biennial report to the UNFCCC.

www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/publications/australias-second-biennial-report

In May 2016, in accordance with Australia’s obligations under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, the Department submitted the annual national inventory report on Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions for 1990 to 2014. A United Nations in-country audit of the report in September 2015 confirmed that our emissions estimates are generally of a high standard while making a series of recommendations we need to implement to improve the inventory and ensure compliance.

The Department is responsible for producing the National Greenhouse Accounts—a suite of publications and databases that estimate and account for Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The latest quarterly update of the National Greenhouse Accounts, released in May 2016, report that Australia’s emissions were 2.5 per cent below 2000 levels in the year to December 2015.

www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/greenhouse-gas-measurement/tracking-emissions

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Criterion Percentage of national emissions covered by Emissions Reduction Fund methods

Result Achieved

Methods for estimating emissions reductions from different activities are now available across the economy, covering a diverse range of emission sources. Methods are formalised through legislative instruments that define eligible emissions reduction activities as well as how the reductions are to be measured, verified, reported and monitored.

Thirty-three methods are in operation for a range of activities across the economy. Figure 2.2 shows that the methods cover most sources of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. The safeguard mechanism limits emissions from the electricity and industrial sectors.

Ten of the 33 available methods were added in 2015-16. As a result of these new methods, businesses and landholders can undertake a range of activities to reduce emissions in the transport, industrial and agriculture sectors and earn carbon credits. For example, beef producers could reduce emissions from their herds by changing management practices and companies may install high-efficiency fans in buildings to reduce their energy use. More information on the methods available is on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/emissions-reduction-fund/methods

Figure 2.2: Sources of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by inventory sector and available Emissions Reduction Fund methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in those sectors

Industrial processes and product use (6%)

Stationary energy (excluding electricity) (18%)

Fugitives (7%) Transport (17%) Electricity (35%)

Waste (2%)

Land use, land use change and forestry (1%)

Agriculture (13%)

33.7Mt

94.5Mt

39.6Mt

93.3Mt

187.5Mt

68.5Mt

6.5Mt 12.0Mt

Methods available by sector

Agriculture 8

Land use, land use change and forestry 10

Waste 4

Electricity 6a

Transport 2

Fugitives 2

Stationary energy 1a

Industrial processes 0a

TOTAL 33

a Methods have wide applicability and may apply to multiple sectors

Source: Quarterly update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, December 2015.

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Criterion Increase in the number of Australian carbon credit units issued

Result Achieved

Every tonne of emissions reduced or stored through an Emissions Reduction Fund project earns one Australian carbon credit unit.

In 2015-16, there was an increase in the number of units issued. As of 30 June 2016 a total of 26,162,256 units had been issued—an increase of 25,447,053 since August 2015. The Clean Energy Regulator is responsible for administering the Emissions Reduction Fund including issuing Australian carbon credit units. More information is on the Clean Energy Regulator website.

www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au/ERF/project-and-contracts-registers/project-register

In partnership with the Regulator and AusIndustry, the Department engages with businesses and landowners to raise awareness of the opportunities available under the Emissions Reduction Fund. During 2015-16, we engaged with more than 450 stakeholders, representing more than 300 organisations. With participation from the Clean Energy Regulator and AusIndustry we ran a series of briefings and workshops around the country about the fund. These stakeholder engagement activities increased participation in the Emissions Reduction Fund and, ultimately, the amount of abatement achieved through projects and therefore the number of Australian carbon credit units issued.

Criterion Compliance with Emissions Reduction Fund safeguard mechanism—covered facilities do not exceed safeguard mechanism baselines

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

In 2015-16, the Department established the legislative framework for the safeguard mechanism to begin operating from 1 July 2016. The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (Safeguard Mechanism) Rule 2015 became law in October 2015.

The safeguard mechanism applies to facilities that emit more than 100,000 tCO2-e a year. These facilities must maintain their emissions at or below a baseline level set by the Clean Energy Regulator. As the safeguard mechanism began on 1 July 2016, facilities were not required to comply with baselines during 2015-16.

The safeguard mechanism is complemented by the Emissions Reduction Fund’s crediting and purchasing elements.

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Criterion The uptake of additional renewable energy is encouraged and the Renewable Energy Target is achieved

Result Partially achieved

The Renewable Energy Target is made up of two schemes: the large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.

Large-scale Renewable Energy Target

The annual large-scale target for 2015 of 18,850 GWh was met through a combination of large-scale generation certifications generated in 2015 (approximately 15,200 GWh) and surplus certificates generated in previous years.

In the Renewable Energy Target 2015 Administrative Report and Annual Statement released on 4 May 2016, the Clean Energy Regulator advised that progress towards the 2020 large-scale target was adequate under the circumstances and that the 2020 target was achievable. The Clean Energy Regulator estimates that around 3000 MW of additional projects need to be committed in 2016 to avoid shortfalls in certifications in 2018. Between 1 January and 30 June 2016, there were 10 new projects committed, with 344 MW of capacity.

Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme

As at 30 June 2016, over 2.54 million small-scale systems had been installed under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. It is estimated that small-scale renewable energy systems, such as household photovoltaics, will generate around 6600 GWh a year, while solar hot water systems and air source heat pumps will displace around 3200 GWh a year.

Objective: Contribute to the negotiation of an effective global solution to climate change

Criterion Key countries and civil society organisations from across the region commit to a collective plan to slow, halt and then reverse the loss of tropical rainforests across the Asia-Pacific region

Result Achieved

Through the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership, the Australian Government has been supporting efforts to build capacity in the region to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the land sector and avoid further deforestation. The Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership is a network of regional governments, private sector organisations and civil society that provides a platform for the practical implementation of the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC and of the convention’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) program.

Under the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Partnership, a private sector roundtable that includes executives from the timber, palm oil, finance and agribusiness sectors has been established. It aims to encourage private sector finance to flow to forest conservation and best-practice landscape management activities.

The Department helped the Government of Brunei Darussalam to host the second Asia-P acific Rainforest Summit in August 2016. Attendees included major international climate change donors, regional governments, the private sector and civil society.

More information on our forest conservation activities in the Asia-Pacific region is on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/climate-change/rainforest-recovery

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Objective: Improve understanding of climate change impacts and inform decision-making

Criterion Independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility program undertaken by 30 June 2017 demonstrates:

• number of end-users engaged in the design of a coastal risk management tool

• number of coastal communities using the information and tools from the project to inform local policy and plans

• the degree of awareness among relevant government agencies, coastal councils and business and industry groups of National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility Phase 2 outputs, and

• the extent to which the risk management tool is aligned with state and territory government initiatives in climate change adaptation in the coastal zone

Result Partially achieved

In October 2014, the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) appointed an independent organisation, Coutts J&R, to design and conduct a monitoring and evaluation framework for this program. The work is due for completion in 2017. Coutts J&R is reporting to the Department and NCCARF quarterly. It delivered a mid-term review in February 2016, which will be published shortly on the NCCARF website. The final evaluation report is due in October 2017.

www.nccarf.edu.au/biblio

The mid-term review reported that NCCARF had ‘met its milestones to date and is on track to deliver its contracted outputs in the time allocated’. Specifically:

• In the development of the online coastal climate risk management tool, NCCARF had ‘meaningful engagement with a range of stakeholders—including potential end-users’. More than 600 people have attended workshops or participated in surveys, across all states and territories, in capital cities and regional locations. User testing of a draft version of the coastal tool commenced in July 2016.

• Stakeholders and potential end users have strongly endorsed the synthesis information and tools. Those involved with the NCCARF engagement process said they were ‘very satisfied with the direction, approach and development of the synthesis products’.

• All four NCCARF adaptation research networks, hosted by universities across Australia, have been established. The mid-term review states that they are ‘fantastic as a resource, information hub and networking platform; a useful tool to bridge research and practice; and [are] progressing well’.

www.nccarf.edu.au

Criterion Information on climate change projections and adaptation approaches is well targeted to the needs of regional natural resource management organisations and other decision-ma kers

Result Achieved

The Regional Natural Resource Management Planning for Climate Change Fund (2013-16) supported regional NRM organisations to adapt to and plan for climate change impacts and maximise the environmental benefits of carbon-farming projects and biodiversity activities. An independent evaluation of stream two of the fund, finalised in July 2016, found that the climate change information outputs and engagement activities, along with the Climate Change in Australia website, have made high-quality, regionally specific climate change information more accessible and increased the capacity of NRM planners across the country to use it. This evaluation will be published on our website.

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Analysis against purpose

Australia is on track to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets, has improved understanding of climate change impacts and supported an effective international response.

2015-16 was an important year for international climate change action, with the successful negotiation and signing of a new global agreement. In December 2015, Australia played a key role in negotiating the global agreement for climate action post 2020 at the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC. Key outcomes of the agreement include:

› a global goal to hold average temperature increase to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to keep warming below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels

› mitigation targets to be set by all countries from 2020 and reviewed every five years to build ambition over time, informed by a global stocktake

› new targets set for the majority of countries, including Australia, which collectively represent over 96 per cent of global emissions.

Australia committed to a 2030 target of reducing our emissions to 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels. This builds on the 2020 target to reduce our emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels. In setting the 2030 target, the Australian Government indicated that it will undertake a review in 2017 to ensure its policies are appropriately calibrated to achieve the target.

In April 2016, the Australian Government’s emissions projections showed that Australia is expected to surpass its 2020 cumulative abatement task by 78 million tCO2-e and is better placed to achieve its 2030 target. The Australian economy has become less emissions intensive. This is partly due to the implementation of policy measures including the Emissions Reduction Fund and the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

The uptake of renewable energy is an important part of meeting Australia’s emissions reduction targets. The RET is designed to reduce emissions in the electricity sector and encourage additional generation of electricity from sustainable and renewable sources. The Clean Energy Regulator, which administers the RET scheme, stated in a report released in May 2016 that the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target in 2020 is achievable. Uncertainty was alleviated by the passage of Commonwealth legislation in June 2015 that revised the target downwards from 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh in 2020. Under the revised target, the RET is designed to double the amount of large-scale renewable energy delivered by the scheme compared with current levels. This means that about 23.5 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation in 2020 will come from renewable sources.

In September 2015, the Government created the Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation within the Department to better integrate the suite of policies aimed at meeting our emissions reduction targets. The office enabled us to better support the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation—which were incorporated into the Environment portfolio following machinery-of-government changes in 2015—by building a robust framework for agency collaboration on policy development. We help ARENA by providing corporate support and guidance on governance issues. This includes ensuring compliance with each of the agency’s responsibilities to the Minister under the Clean Energy Finance Act 2012 and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011, as well as the appointment of additional board members to ARENA’s board of expert fund administrators.

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Photo: Central Station Rainforest on Fraser Island, Queensland (World Heritage Listed site) (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

Global Forest Observations Initiative

Countries implement land-based measurement, reporting and verification systems to measure stored carbon on the land and thereby assess greenhouse gas emissions and removals. These systems enable countries to submit national greenhouse gas inventory reports for the forestry sector and to report to the UNFCCC in a transparent, accountable and verifiable manner. Australia is a recognised world leader in measuring land-based emissions that contribute to climate change and is using this expertise to help developing countries. What happens on the land is vital for progressing global efforts to tackle climate change, as activities from agriculture, forestry and other land use represent 20-24 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Developing countries in particular can benefit from better carbon accounting, as robust measurement, reporting and verification systems provide other broad national benefits such as enabling sustainable land management and food security to improve rural people’s livelihoods and allowing countries to gain accreditation for climate finance.

The Global Forest Observations Initiative is at the forefront of international efforts to improve developing countries’ ability to measure and account for greenhouse gases. The Australian Government is a founding member of this international partnership, together with the governments of Norway and the United States, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites. The Department plays a guiding role in the ongoing work of the initiative.

We have led the development of Global Forest Observations Initiative guidance material specifically tailored to operational methods complying with international reporting requirements under the UNFCCC. This guidance focuses on emissions and removals associated with the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and

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Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) program and on the role of conservation and sustainable management of forests, and on increases in forest carbon stocks in developing countries. With our help, the guidance material has recently been transformed into a user-friendly online system, called REDDcompass.

www.gfoi.org/reddcompass

REDDcompass provides simple guidance through the otherwise complex process of developing forest monitoring and measurement, reporting and verification systems. It allows countries to tailor their approaches to their needs, without prescribing a particular method or approach. It provides and interprets direct links between UNFCCC decisions and reporting requirements. To date, 550 users from 79 countries have created accounts on REDDcompass. The uptake of REDDcompass by developing countries is expected to grow as the tool continues to be showcased at regional workshops in 2016-17.

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Beef cattle herd management

Australia’s land sector is playing a big part in the success of the Emissions Reduction Fund. The fund, which is at the core of the Australian Government’s approach to climate change, gives Australian businesses, including farmers and landholders, the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving productivity, profitability and sustainability.

The Government has contracted land sector projects to deliver approximately 115.3 million tonnes of carbon abatement—a significant portion of the 143 million tonne total contracted under the Emissions Reduction Fund to date. The majority of these projects are reducing emissions by storing carbon in trees or the soil, and a range of opportunities are available for farmers to participate in the Emissions Reduction Fund. For example, cattle producers can now reduce emissions from their livestock through a range of herd management activities.

Photo: Beef cattle on a station near Charters Towers, northern Queensland (© Department of the Environment and Energy)

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Paraway Pastoral, a major grazing operation owned by the Macquarie Pastoral Fund, is one of the cattle producers taking up this opportunity and receiving funding from the Emissions Reduction Fund. The Clean Energy Regulator contracted the company’s project at the April 2016 auction to deliver carbon abatement over the next seven years. Paraway Pastoral is using the beef cattle herd management method to reduce the emissions it produces. The project is being conducted across 10 properties in Queensland and New South Wales that run 110,000 cattle.

Adrian Sykes, Paraway Pastoral’s Land and Environment Officer, says the project has been a catalyst for a review of operations and land development opportunities. As a result of this, the company is fast-tracking land development projects such as subdividing paddocks and installing new water troughs to improve grazing efficiency. This will increase the overall production efficiency of the herd, resulting in improved growth and reproduction rates. These efficiency gains will increase the number of kilograms of beef produced per grazing day and reduce the number of days to slaughter.

‘Our company is committed to sustainable land management and responsibly managing our herd to reduce its environmental impact and maximise profit over the long term. The Emissions Reduction Fund gave us a way to bring forward production improvements by allowing us to earn Australian carbon credit units which we can sell. The project is aligned with our business’ land management and production objectives. In addition to the revenue the project will generate, it demonstrates our operating philosophy has mutual environmental and profitability benefits’, said Mr Sykes.

‘The Emissions Reduction Fund gave us a way to bring forward production improvements by allowing us to earn Australian carbon credit units which we can sell.’ —Adrian Sykes, Land and Environment Officer, Paraway Pastoral

The Government worked closely with Meat and Livestock Australia to develop the beef cattle herd management method—one of a suite of methods under the Emissions Reduction Fund that create financial incentives for businesses to reduce greenhouse gases. The methods set out the rules for determining and verifying the quantity of emissions reductions.

Meat and Livestock Australia’s analysis of the herd management method found that better management activities for a herd of 10,000 animals on pastoral lands could generate annual productivity gains of $40,000 to $80,000. These returns are in addition to revenue from the sale of carbon credits.

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Steve Wiedemann, an agricultural scientist with rural consultancy Integrity Ag Services, highlights the advantages: ‘Returns from participating in the ERF offer livestock producers an incentive to fast-track management changes or capital expenditure and realise productivity benefits earlier.’

‘Returns from participating in the ERF offer livestock producers an incentive to fast-track management changes or capital expenditure and realise productivity benefits earlier.’—Steve Wiedemann, Integrity Ag Services

The Department is continuing to work on new emissions reductions opportunities across the economy.

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Antarctica Purpose: Advance Australia’s strategic, scientific and environmental interests in the Antarctic

Antarctic science and presence

The Department’s Australian Antarctic Division delivers programs that conduct and facilitate scientific research, protect the Antarctic environment, preserve Australia’s presence and sovereignty in the Australian Antarctic Territory, and contribute to Antarctica’s freedom from strategic and political confrontation. During 2015-16, this included the effective administration of relevant Australian environmental legislation including the EPBC Act, Antarctic Treaty Environment Protection Act 1980 and the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Conservation Act 1981.

The release of the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year Action Plan in April 2016 was a significant achievement. The strategy and action plan comprehensively articulate our national Antarctic interests and sets out a pathway to promoting Australia’s continued leadership in Antarctic affairs. It recognises the need for long-term investment in the Antarctic Treaty system, international relationships, science and our physical presence on the ice and sets out priorities for the short, medium and long term. Its implementation is supported by a $2.2 billion package of investment by the Government for a number of key measures across the Australian Antarctic program.

www.antarctica.gov.au/about-us/antarctic-strategy-and-action-plan

In April 2016, the Department signed a contract with Australian company DMS Maritime Pty Ltd for the design, building and long-term operation and maintenance of a new research and resupply icebreaking ship. This milestone followed a thorough evaluation process that determined that the DMS Maritime bid provides a value-for-money solution to our extensive list of over 1300 requirements. The state-of-the-art icebreaker will be uniquely tailored to meet Australia’s needs and offers increased endurance and icebreaking capability. The new ship provides a modern platform for marine science research in both sea ice and open water, and a moon pool for launching and retrieving remotely operated underwater vehicles. It will support Antarctic operations and science and ensure Australia is the scientific partner of choice in East Antarctica.

Contributing to maintaining Antarctica’s freedom from strategic and/or political confrontation and preserving Australia’s presence in and sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory and offshore areas are important objectives of the Antarctic program. In 2015-16, the Department effectively administered the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, including through assessing and providing authorisations and permits to Australian nationals in accordance with legislation and environmental protection measures.

The Department provided logistical support for the successful resupply of three stations in the Australian Antarctic Territory (Casey, Davis and Mawson) and one station in the sub-Antarctic (Macquarie Island)—a total of 177 shipping days, consisting of 156 days by the Aurora Australis and 21 days by L’Astrolabe (the French Antarctic program’s vessel); and 29 intercontinental flights, exceeding the target of 15 flights.

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Results against key performance indicators

Objective: Conduct scientific research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean that supports national policy and environmental management priorities

Criterion Scientific research conducted in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean is internationally recognised, as indicated by:

• the number of scientific papers published in peer reviewed journals and/or submitted to key international forums in the previous calendar year, and

• the number of international institutions collaborating in the Australian Antarctic program during the financial year

Result Achieved

The Department conducts and facilitates research in areas of Antarctic and Southern Ocean science, particularly those related to ecosystems, natural resource management and environmental protection. The research is guided by the Australian Antarctic Science Strategic Plan 2011-12 to 2020-21.

www.antarctica.gov.au/science

During 2015, a total of 195 papers were published, including 16 papers submitted to key international forums. Trend data is in Figure 2.3. The reduction in number of publications between 2013-14 and 2014 reflects that the criterion is now limited to peer-reviewed papers rather than all publications.

Australia supports Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research through collaborations with other institutions and by providing logistical support. During 2015-16, we progressed 102 collaborative projects with institutions from 25 countries. Trend data (Figure 2.4) indicates that Australia continues to take a proactive role in collaborative research projects in Antarctica.

In addition, in 2015-16, the Department aimed to have 80 scientists active in Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic and the Southern Ocean. For the third year we exceeded this target, with a total of 103 scientists active (Figure 2.5).

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Figure 2.3: Number of scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals and/or submitted to key international forums in the previous calendar year

0

50

100

150

200

250

2015 a 2014 a 2013-14 2012-13

Number of papers

a Calendar year—a new indicator from 2014 onwards

179

165

103

179

16

18

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Figure 2.4: Number of international institutions collaborating in the Australian Antarctic program

0

50

100

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2015-16 2014 -15 2013-14 2012-13

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Figure 2.5: Number of scientists active in Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic and the Southern Ocean

0

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2015-16 2014 -15 2013-14 2012-13

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Objective: Contribute to maintaining Antarctica’s freedom from strategic and/or political confrontation

Criterion Exercise enhanced Australian influence in the Antarctic Treaty system, including through participation in its various forums, as measured by the extent to which Australia’s objectives are achieved and the number of senior positions (for example, Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson) held by Australia during the financial year

Result Achieved

Australia’s objectives for the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources are agreed with relevant departments and, where appropriate, by ministers. Australia participated in each of these meetings and achieved or advanced our objectives.

Australia currently holds four senior positions in the key Antarctic international forums. This is one more position than in 2014-15. The positions are Chair of the Committee for Environmental Protection, Convenor of the Working Group on Ecosystem Monitoring and Management, Vice-Ch air of the Scientific Committee for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and Vice-Ch air of the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs. In June 2016, the Director of the Australian Antarctic Division, Dr Nick Gales, was appointed as the new Australian Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission.

Analysis against purpose

The Department successfully met all Antarctic objectives during the 2015-16 financial year.

The significant expansion of our aviation capability during 2015-16 supports the conduct of scientific research and maintains Australia’s presence in Antarctica. Our seven proof-of-concept RAAF C-17A Globemaster III flights from Hobart to Wilkins Aerodrome and Casey provided an unplanned additional capacity to move expeditioners to and from Antarctica. Transporting expeditioners by C-17A is a significant factor in the overall increase in number of expeditioners transported to Australia’s Antarctic stations during the financial year.

Australia’s Antarctic operations are undertaken in a high-risk environment, as shown by the grounding of the Aurora Australis in February 2016 at Mawson Station. This resulted in the Aurora Australis being unserviceable for the remainder of our planned shipping schedule for the season. L’Astrolabe was used instead to conduct the resupply of Macquarie Island.

On 11 January 2016, helicopter pilot David Wood fell into a crevasse at an Australian Antarctic Division fuel depot on the West Ice Shelf near Davis Station in the Australian Antarctic Territory. His death has been referred to the ACT Coroner and an inquest is under way.

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Photo: Scientists processing krill samples on board the Aurora Australis

Kerguelen Axis Southern Ocean ecosystem and oceanographic research

The Southern Ocean is one of the most rapidly changing environments on earth. The Kerguelen Axis (K-axis) region to the south-west of Australia between Heard Island and McDonald Islands and the Antarctic continent is one of only three lines of longitude where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flows across the Antarctic continental shelf, the deep ocean and sub-Antarctic islands. As a result, it is one of the most highly productive regions in the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean. It is an important region for the global carbon cycle; the conservation of whales, seals, penguins and seabirds; and the valuable toothfish, icefish and Antarctic krill fisheries.

From a scientific perspective it is a place where the relative importance of different factors driving change in Southern Ocean ecosystems can be disentangled. However, not much is known about how the pelagic ecosystem in this region will respond to change or how the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources should adapt its conservation and fisheries management arrangements to a changing ecosystem.

The K-axis marine science voyage in January-February 2016 set out to determine the environmental factors that drive the krill-based food web in the southern part of the axis, and the fish- and copepod-dominated food web in the north. A team of 32 scientists and technicians on the Aurora Australis used a combination of sampling methods to study the physical, chemical and biological conditions and to comprehensively map the different habitats, productivity and biota in the region. The voyage covered over 8850 km of ocean and measured the abundance of krill, fish, jellyfish, zooplankton and phytoplankton.

Early results indicate that the system in East Antarctica is much more productive than was estimated solely from the abundance of krill or from satellite estimates based on ocean colour. The abundance of grazers, including salps and small zooplankton, was far greater than expected in areas where Antarctic krill is expected to dominate. Small fish, which form a different food chain from krill,

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were found throughout the ecosystem. Productive swarms of Antarctic krill were found much further north than originally expected. A most extraordinary and rare find was a super-swarm of Antarctic krill in these northern locations, with more than 100 whales feeding in the area.

The results of this voyage will be combined with research in the region conducted at the same time on the Investigator around Heard Island as well as on French, Japanese and US research vessels. This international coordination will form the foundation for collaborations to design an effective observing program for measuring status and trends in the ecosystem in East Antarctica, to measure change in the future, and to provide information for conservation and fisheries management.

This six-week voyage was funded through the Department, the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre and the Australian Research Council’s Special Research Initiative for Gateway Research Partnership.

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Photo: First Antarctic flight of C-17A Globemaster III, Wilkins Aerodrome (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

RAAF C-17A Globemaster

On 4 June 2016, the Royal Australian Air Force conducted an instrument-only mission in darkness to Casey station on a Boeing C-17A Globemaster aircraft. The flight made history as the first midwinter airdrop to any of Australia’s continental stations in Antarctica. The mission delivered vehicle maintenance parts, medical supplies, food and the mail. It was the seventh and final mission in the Antarctic airlift proof-of-concept operation.

Since 2014, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Air Force have been working together to develop a heavy-lift, outsize-cargo capability that can operate to our Wilkins ice runway near Casey. This endeavour builds on the successful intercontinental airlink between Hobart and Wilkins runway that began in January 2008.

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The Antarctic airlift proof-of-concept operation comprised five planned missions. The first mission validated the C-17A aircraft for use at the Wilkins ice runway. The remaining four missions were planned and executed with incremental payload and volume increases. This culminated in the return of a large traverse tractor to Antarctica in February 2016.

In November 2015, the traverse tractor, weighing 24 tonnes, sustained a critical equipment failure and was flown from Wilkins aerodrome to Hobart for major repairs. It was repaired over the Christmas and New Year period and flown back to Casey on the fifth C-17A mission. The journey of this critical piece of equipment from the Antarctic to Australia and back took less than eight weeks; previously this turnaround would have taken up to two years to achieve by vessel.

Unexpectedly, in March 2016 our C-17A capability proved its versatility again by completing its first dedicated operational support mission for the Australian Antarctic program. After the Aurora Australis icebreaker ran aground in Horseshoe Harbour at Mawson station, all passengers and three helicopters were evacuated to Casey station. At short notice, the Air Force was able to deploy the C-17A to Wilkins aerodrome and repatriate to Australia the three Antarctic Division B3 helicopters and 30 passengers.

The development of a heavy-lift cargo capability for Australia’s Antarctic program is a step change in capability. As well as allowing the timely transfer of large volumes of heavy cargo, it gives us responsive airlift capacity in the unforeseen circumstances that can prevail in Antarctica and the flexibility of year-round capability to drop essential parts and supplies to all of Australia’s three Antarctic stations.

The C-17A capability is planned to offer ongoing support to the Australian Antarctic program, providing up to six flights each austral summer season (October to March). This support is part of a broader agreement on cooperative interaction between the Department and the Australian Defence Force that is being formalised under a memorandum of understanding.

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Water Purpose: Improve the health of rivers and freshwater ecosystems

Environmental watering

The Department’s Commonwealth Environmental Water Office supports the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to meet his obligations under the Basin Plan (Water Act 2007). The Office manages a large portfolio of over 1692 GL (long-term average annual yield 10) of water for the benefit of the environment, undertaking local community engagement activities, supporting scientific monitoring that informs environmental water management, and leading international engagement under the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention).

Environmental water management

Decisions about how best to manage the Commonwealth’s water portfolio are influenced by a number of factors including water availability (allocations), the best available science and the insights and experience of people living and working in the Basin, who know their rivers intimately.

Like other water users, all environmental water holders and managers must adjust their water management strategies during dry times when allocations are reduced because there is less water available in the system.

Due to a dry outlook in 2015-16, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder made the most of the Commonwealth’s holdings by using a combination of water delivery, carryover and a small trade of allocations to maximise environmental outcomes. This was particularly prudent because it allowed environmental needs to continue to be met despite limited water availability due to dry conditions. Watering actions were undertaken in partnership with Basin states, river operators, the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, scientists, local environmental water advisory groups and committees and Basin communities. These actions were informed by comprehensive multi-year plans.

Strategies to maximise environmental outcomes within catchments and across the Basin included targeting multiple outcomes along river systems in the same watering activity. This involved coordination with other sources of water (such as environmental water managed by state governments and consumptive water deliveries); and delivering water at seasonally appropriate times (for example, in response to natural rainfall cues), recognising that drying periods for wetlands are necessary in the Australian landscape.

The year’s largest Commonwealth environmental watering action, which ran from June 2015 to January 2016, was the release of environmental water from Hume Dam on the Murray River (upstream of Albury in New South Wales) to provide benefits all the way through the system. This involved several environmental water holders, floodplain site managers and river operators to deliver flows in coordination with consumptive water deliveries for best environmental effect. It involved trialling an innovative approach to delivering environmental water in response to ‘natural cues’ (see the case study ‘A novel approach’ on page 80).

10 L ong-term average annual yield is a method used to standardise the calculation of expected water recoveries in the Murray-Darling Basin from different water access entitlement categories and across catchments in the Basin. This measure of water volume is relevant for measuring progress of water recovery towards meeting the sustainable diversion limits set out in the Basin Plan.

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Monitoring and evaluation

The Long-Term Intervention Monitoring Project, which began in 2014-15, involves teams of experts—including scientists from some of Australia’s leading regional research institutions, and local land and water managers—assessing the impacts of environmental water use in the Gwydir, Lachlan, Edward-Wakool, Murrumbidgee, Goulburn and Lower Murray catchments and the junction of the Warrego and Darling River catchments. This long-term program complements short-term monitoring projects undertaken since 2010. The results have informed the development of the 2016-17 environmental watering plans. These plans and the long-term intervention monitoring reports for 2014-15 are published on the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office website.

www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo

Local community engagement

Local communities contribute to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s planning and decision-making for best use of Commonwealth environmental water. Local knowledge and experience helps to:

› identify environmental water needs and potential multiple benefits (such as social, cultural and economic benefits)

› identify potential risks, including third-party impacts › monitor the environmental outcomes from environmental watering › address the interests and information needs of people living and working in the Basin in relation to environmental water and its planning and management.

In conjunction with state environmental water holders and managers, local river operators and waterway managers (such as catchment management authorities and local land services), the Water Holder conducted community forums in key towns throughout the Basin. These ‘joint-agency’ forums are part of continuing efforts to explain to a broad cross-section of Basin communities why, how and when environmental water is used, in the context of environmental needs, seasonal and operational conditions and water availability.

In 2015-16, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office continued to provide a regular flow of information through a range of mechanisms including emails and phone calls, field trips and site visits, workshops and conferences, newsletters, media and social media and the website.

Ramsar Convention

Australia continued to participate in Ramsar Convention processes through its position as Vice Chair of the Ramsar Convention Standing Committee. We attended two standing committee meetings and participated in the selection process for a new Secretary-General.

We promoted wetland conservation and wise use through World Wetlands Day and the publication of Wetlands Australia magazine and a number of fact sheets.

We responded to third-party notifications of potential changes to the ecological character of Australian Ramsar sites, including for the Gippsland Lakes, Western Port and Peel-Yalgorup System wetlands.

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Results against key performance indicators

Objective: Protect and restore environmental assets in the Murray-Darling Basin through the management and use of Commonwealth environmental water

Criterion Intervention monitoring demonstrates that Commonwealth environmental water has contributed to the environmental objectives of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan including for water quality, ecosystem resilience and function, species diversity and populations of water dependent vegetation, fish and waterbirds at selected monitoring sites in the Murray-Darling Basin

Result Achieved

A significant achievement in 2015-16 was the release in February 2016 of the first scientific reports in the five-year, $30 million Long-Term Intervention Monitoring project. The reports indicated that, by restoring natural variability in flows, environmental water is reconnecting rivers with their wetlands and floodplains and providing food, habitat and breeding opportunities for native fish, waterbirds and vegetation. It is reducing the risk of damage to the environment caused by poor water quality and salinity—consistent with the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s role under the Water Act, the Basin Plan and the Basin-wide environmental watering strategy.

For details see the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office’s 2014-15 Outcomes Snapshot, Restoring our rivers.

www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo/publications/restoring-our-rivers

More information, including the latest long-term intervention monitoring reports, is on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo/monitoring/ltim-project

Criterion The extent to which local knowledge and solutions inform the implementation of environmental watering

Result Achieved

In 2015-16, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder formed a landmark partnership with the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority. The three-year partnership establishes a way to deliver environmental water that ensures environmental assets in the lower Murray River region are being cared for in accordance with the cultural protocols of the Ngarrindjeri nation.

Local engagement officers, other Commonwealth Environmental Water Office staff and state and local water delivery partners are working with other Indigenous representative groups—the Tar-Ru Lands Board of Management, Narri Narri and Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations, and Ngiyampaa Wayilwan in the Macquarie Marshes—to increase the use of environmental water for multiple benefits, including cultural needs (see the case study ‘Engaging with traditional owners in the Macquarie catchment‘ on page 79).

There are six local engagement officers working for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office in Basin communities, located at Goondiwindi (Queensland); Dubbo, Leeton and Deniliquin (New South Wales); Mildura (Victoria); and Berri (South Australia). In 2015-16, these officers attended community events, industry forums and state agency community committee meetings. They helped identify opportunities for watering wetlands on private properties in partnership with local landholders.

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Analysis against purpose

Despite drier than average conditions, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder was able to maximise the use of the Commonwealth’s water holdings to contribute to all seven of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s annual environmental watering priorities for 2015-16.

www.mdba.gov.au/publications/all-publications/

Redressing environmental decline that has occurred over decades is going to take some time. It will be at least 10 years before we can show lasting change and improvements to the health of the rivers, floodplains and wetlands consistent with the long-term expected environmental outcomes of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Basin-wide environmental watering strategy. However, the February 2016 long-term intervention monitoring reports for selected sites produced some encouraging results, including:

Lower Murray River Commonwealth environmental water contributed 100 per cent of the flows over the barrages into the Coorong from November 2014 to June 2015. This water contributed to increased water velocity in the main river channel, increasing the occurrence of flowing water habitats, which is important for riverine fish such as Murray cod.

Goulburn Flows delivered during spring 2015 helped to maintain and improve vegetation abundance and diversity in the regions previously inundated during 2014. The resulting growth improved the condition and cover of the native plant species lesser joyweed and creeping knotweed, both of which prefer wetter habitats.

Edward-Wakool A strong response by aquatic and semi-aquatic plant species was observed in-stream and in wetlands that received environmental water during spring 2014.

Murrumbidgee Environmental water was the primary mechanism by which the Murrumbidgee wetlands and floodplains received water during 2014-15. This resulted in improvements in water quality and a reduction in dissolved nutrients (carbon and phosphate) on the floodplain.

Repeat golden perch and critically endangered silver perch spawning events were detected along the river channel in response to environmental water delivered to the region between November and December 2014.

Lower Lachlan Approximately 80 per cent of the water delivered to the Lachlan River during early spring 2014 was Commonwealth environmental water. Water levels rose by up to 1.5 m between Willandra Weir and Booligal.

The environmental water delivered in Spring 2014 reached the central reed beds of Great Cumbung Swamp, which is listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia.

Junction of the Warrego and Darling Inundation of 37 ha of key communities on the western floodplain positively influenced plant diversity and cover, supporting the growth of native herb species such as river mint and slender knotweed.

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Gwydir Environmental water inundated 6342 ha of the Gingham and Gwydir wetlands. Significant increases in waterbird species diversity and total abundance were observed at sites that received water. This included seven species listed under international agreements, such as Latham’s snipe, sharp-tailed sandpiper, brolgas and magpie geese.

Through the scientific knowledge gained from the long-term intervention monitoring and the local knowledge gained through our stakeholder engagement activities, we will continue to build on our policies and environmental management actions and make progress towards the shared goal of improving our rivers and freshwater ecosystems.

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Photo: Sharing traditional knowledge about saltbush berries, Macquarie catchment, New South Wales

Engaging with traditional owners in the Macquarie catchment

In May 2016, officers from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, the Department’s Threatened Ecological Communities Section and the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage undertook a journey with Ngiyampaa-Wa yilwan elders and community members along the Macquarie River and into the Macquarie Marshes.

The journey, made possible by the Department’s Kevin McLeod Reconciliation Award scheme, provided an opportunity to discuss how water is managed in the Macquarie catchment and how the traditional owners can be more involved in environmental water planning processes in the Macquarie catchment in future. It also provided an opportunity for the Ngiyampaa-Wayilwan community to share their connection with country.

(

© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

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Photo: Reed Beds Swamp at Dusk, New South Wales (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

A novel approach—Using natural cues to inform the delivery of Commonwealth environmental water

From June to October 2015, a novel approach to using environmental water to respond to natural hydrological cues was trialled for the first time in the Murray River.

A natural cue may be a change in water levels, river flows, water temperature or carbon and nutrient input as a result of local rainfall or inflows. When a natural cue occurs, ecological processes such as frog breeding, fish spawning and waterbird nesting are more likely to be triggered and sustained. Put simply, if natural cues are supported, there is a much greater chance that the expected biological response will occur.

Environmental water releases from one of the main storages on the river, Hume Dam, were triggered by rainfall events and local run-off, with the aim of mimicking a proportion of what the natural flow downstream would have been if the dam were not present. To avoid negative impacts on third parties, releases were managed below set limits. This meant that they followed the pattern but not the magnitude of the modelled natural flow.

In October 2015, operational releases increased and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder took advantage of the higher flows to provide a series of freshes to support spawning of native fish, including golden perch and the critically endangered silver perch.

The flows contributed to the growth of moira grass and other aquatic vegetation, primarily in the Millewa Forest. They also supported the breeding of over 1000 pairs of birds, including Australian white and straw-necked ibis, royal spoonbills, eastern great egrets, Australian darters and little pied cormorants. Further environmental flows supported the completion of these events to January 2016. A significant proportion (up to 20 per cent) of the entire population of endangered Australasian bitterns and little bitterns were found to be inhabiting and breeding in the Barmah-Millewa Forest during and after the flow event.

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Most of the water moved down to South Australia, providing benefits to the Edward-Wakool river system en route, along with return flows from other tributaries. This supported outcomes throughout the catchment, including fish movement along the length of the Murray River.

Other benefits from this novel approach include better alignment in meeting environmental demands, particularly in restoring flow seasonality; mimicking natural hydrological patterns of variability and unpredictability; reducing administrative burdens, as some operational decisions were more automated; and giving greater certainty for other water users, river operators and water holders on how environmental water will be used and the basis for decisions.

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Enabling activities Purpose: Support all departmental purposes

Environmental science and research

The Department’s environmental science and research activity contributes to the delivery of all four of our purposes in the priority areas of environment and heritage, climate change, Antarctica and water and ensures that decisions about Australia’s environment are based on the best available information.

Our methods of carrying out our diverse science functions range from administering programs that fund specialised external research collaboration to directly employing scientists. Our performance reporting for the environmental science and research activity includes the programs and focus areas outlined below.

State of the Environment

The national State of the Environment report provides an assessment of the current state, recent trends and future outlook of the Australian environment. Since the initial report in 1996, reports have been prepared every five years under the EPBC Act. The 2016 State of the Environment report is the fifth report to be completed in the 20 year history of national reporting.

Compiled by independent subject matter experts, the report will be available from early 2017 through an interactive online platform. During 2016, independent authors have been drafting assessments for particular aspects of the environment based on the State of the Environment themes of major drivers of environmental change such as, atmosphere, inland waters, land, marine, the built environment, the Antarctic environment, coasts, biodiversity and heritage. The report expands the successful reporting model of 2011—themes include a report card style graded assessment and description of management initiatives in place to address environmental concerns and the effectiveness of those initiatives.

A digital platform will enable users to make comparisons across time, download underlying data and investigate environmental issues that cut across multiple themes. Nearly 300 maps and figures will be available through an interactive platform. The report’s digital information platform will enable:

› a strong understanding about the current state of the environment › ongoing use of the report’s information and data by governments, policy-makers, scientists, academics, environmental decision-makers, land managers and citizen scientists

› a platform for the future publication of environment information.

The underlying data, sourced from 60 government and non-government sources, will be available for download as open-access data from data.gov.au.

A synthesis report providing an overview of the state of the environment will be prepared by the Chief Author and tabled by the Minister for the Environment and Energy in Parliament in the first sitting period of 2017.

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National Environmental Science Program

The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) is a six-year $145 million program to help decision-makers understand, manage and conserve Australia’s environment by funding world-class biodiversity and climate science. Six research hubs have been established under the program:

1. Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub

2. Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub

3. Marine Biodiversity Hub

4. Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub

5. Threatened Species Recovery Hub

6. Tropical Water Quality Hub.

www.environment.gov.au/science/nesp

Australian Biological Resources Study

The Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) program supports a range of resources including taxonomic capability, national databases, online applications and publications, and it helps Australia meet its international obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. In 2015-16, 660 Australian species and higher-order taxa were revised or newly described through the grants and activities of the ABRS. This represents a substantial contribution to understanding Australia’s biodiversity. The development and online publication of fundamental species knowledge and information underpins national and international biodiversity conservation, threatened species and biosecurity management activities, including application of the EPBC Act.

The ABRS works collaboratively with Australian museums, herbaria, universities and the CSIRO to collate published material into authoritative national collections of taxonomic data and information, which are openly discoverable and accessible through our website.

www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/online-resources

Data include current authoritative species names, taxonomy, profiles, distributions and related ecological information and data provenance for Australian plants, animals, algae, fungi and other cryptogams. Data and information are disseminated through online tools such as the Australian Faunal Directory and Flora of Australia Online and web services harvested by national and international biodiversity applications, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, the International Plant Names Index and the Encyclopaedia of Life. The value of the information lies in its use by governments, conservation organisations, scientists, industry, educational institutes and the community. In particular, the Atlas of Living Australia depends on ABRS names and taxonomy as the authoritative source for Australian species and in turn is used by the Department, other government agencies and Australian science institutions as the basis for a host of analyses and applications. The Atlas of Living Australia reported over 43.6 million web hits on information associated with Australian faunal names sourced from the Australian Faunal Directory in 2015-16.

Bush Blitz is Australia’s largest nature discovery project — a unique multi-million dollar partnership between the Australian Government through Parks Australia and the ABRS, BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities and Earthwatch Australia to document plants and animals across Australia. Since its inception, the project has to date contributed 1193 putative (accepted to be) new species to those described under the ABRS.

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The ABRS supported 81 early-career researchers in taxonomy in 2015-16 through student scholarships and travel grants and by preferentially awarding grants to applications that engage early-career researchers working with established researchers to encourage knowledge transfer. This enhances the effectiveness of the funding provided through the ABRS in building and maintaining Australia’s taxonomic capacity. The ABRS provides the only consistent source of funding for taxonomic research in Australia.

Bioregional Assessment Program

In 2015-16, the Department continued to increase understanding of the water-related impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining development by supporting the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) and by delivering bioregional assessments and other research. These actions collectively provide governments, industry and the community with access to better scientific knowledge when considering the potential environmental impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining development.

The IESC draws on its expertise in hydrology, hydrogeology, geology and ecology, and the best available science, such as that being delivered through the Australian Government’s Bioregional Assessment Program, to formulate its advice which is strengthening the science supporting environmental regulatory decision-making. The IESC held eight meetings during 2015-16, preparing advice on the water-related impacts of eight large coal mines for the Australian, New South Wales and Queensland governments.

The Department is ensuring that relevant scientific knowledge is available through its investment in the Bioregional Assessment Program. Bioregional assessments will be key tools for decision-makers in government and industry, the IESC and other interested parties to manage the cumulative impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining development on surface water and groundwater.

The Department is working with the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, state governments, natural resource management bodies and others to deliver bioregional assessments in 13 regions with significant coal deposits and development pressure across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia (see Figure 2.6). Products continue to be made available as they are produced, and full completion is now expected by mid-2017. The extra time for completion is needed because of the scale and novelty of the scientific effort required and the inherent delays in accessing third-party data.

A new web-based information platform was launched in April 2016 to provide open access to the bioregional assessment technical products and results. This platform will be enhanced with a map-based component in early 2017.

www.bioregionalassessments.gov.au

The Department is working with CSIRO and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme to assess the risks to the environment and human health of surface handling of chemicals associated with coal seam gas extraction. The Department expects this national assessment of chemicals associated with coal seam gas extraction to be completed in late 2016.

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Figure 2.6: Bioregional assessment areas

Bioregional assessment areas under the Bioregional Assessment Program (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

Supervising Scientist Branch

The work of the Supervising Scientist Branch in 2015-16 meets two outcomes:

› operational oversight and monitoring › closure of the Ranger uranium mine.

In 2015-16, we continued to provide oversight of uranium mining operations and the associated regulatory process in the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory, including a program of audits and inspections, document reviews and incident investigations (see Part 5, ‘Legislative reporting’ page 304 for a summary of supervision activities). The monitoring we conducted throughout 2015-16 did not detect any impacts on the environment surrounding the Ranger uranium mine, including Kakadu National Park. Further information on our supervision activities will be in the Supervising Scientist Annual Technical Report, to be published at the end of 2016.

www.environment.gov.au/science/supervising-scientist/publications

We are required to report annually on the operations of the Supervising Scientist and certain related matters under the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978. In previous years we have done this in a separate annual report. In 2015-16, this reporting has been consolidated into the Department’s annual report (see Part 5, ‘Legislative reporting’ page 303).

The Supervising Scientist Branch is responsible for developing and setting environmental standards to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the impacts of uranium mining. In 2016, we reviewed and updated the Ranger Water Quality Objectives, a suite of water quality standards, based on outcomes of the annual research and monitoring programs we have conducted over the past 12 years. The research program will continue to

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contribute to the development of environmental standards which, in line with the scheduled rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine, will include closure criteria against which rehabilitation success can been assessed. Over 90 per cent of the research projects contribute to knowledge that will inform the rehabilitation process or the assessment of its success. Central to this is the ecological risk assessment for the decommissioning and post-decommissioning phases at Ranger, which has been undertaken by the Supervising Scientist Branch in collaboration with CSIRO and other stakeholders between 2014 and 2016, and will be published after it has been peer reviewed.

Consultative mechanisms employed by the Supervising Scientist include the Alligator Rivers Region Advisory Committee, which provides a forum for stakeholders to exchange views and information regarding the protection of the Alligator Rivers Region from the effects of uranium mining. Additionally, the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee ensures scientific research and monitoring conducted by the Supervising Scientist is appropriately targeted and rigorous.

A comprehensive summary of our research and monitoring activities in 2015-16 will be provided in the Supervising Scientist Annual Technical Report, to be published at the end of 2016.

www.environment.gov.au/science/supervising-scientist/publications

Australian Climate Change Science Program

From 1989 to 2015-16, the Australian Government provided funding to the Australian Climate Change Science Program (ACCSP)—a partnership between the Department, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology—as a key driver of Australia’s climate change research effort. The program supported research on the causes, nature, timing and consequences of climate change to Australia’s climate and the global climate system. In its final year the ACCSP continued to deliver high-quality scientific research, communicate the results to the Department and collaborate closely with national and international research organisations. Research findings from the ACCSP were published throughout the 27-year life of the program. An estimated 100 peer-reviewed articles will be published from research concluded in 2015-16.

A comprehensive annual report for the year to 30 June 2016, including research highlights and a comprehensive overview of the published results of the program, will be published online.

www.cawcr.gov.au/projects/climatechange/resources.shtml

CSIRO is undertaking a review to evaluate the value of the science generated by the ACCSP. The outcomes of this review will be published on the program’s website by 30 June 2017.

Essential Environmental Measures for Australia program

The Essential Environmental Measures for Australia program aims to improve the Department’s capacity to track change in the state of the environment. An essential environmental measure is a quantifiable measure that provides information on aspects of our environment at local, regional and national scales.

The program brings together experts to:

› identify measures that are essential to track change in our natural environment › improve the discovery, access and re-use of data and information for those measures.

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The program is working with the native vegetation community to identify the most important measures and to make vegetation data more available. This is being done through two working groups: one that will develop the native vegetation measures and one that will develop an information model to increase availability of vegetation site data.

www.environment.gov.au/science/essential-environmental-measures-australia

Results against key performance indicators

Objective: Improve understanding of Australia’s environment and inform environmental decision-making through collaborative research and enhanced discovery, access and use of environmental information

Criterion Increase in the number of environmental datasets which are openly accessible and available on the internet and follow guidance provided under the National Plan for Environmental Information initiative

Result Achieved

The Department continues to make good progress in making environmental datasets available through data.gov.au, the Australian Government’s central catalogue of public data, and directly as web services. For example, in 2015-16 we released 22 environmental datasets on data.gov.au.

The Department and the Bureau of Meteorology have a number of activities under way to collaborate with Australian Government data holders to improve discovery, access and re-use of environmental information. These include the Department’s Essential Environmental Measures for Australia Program and the Bureau’s National Environmental Information Infrastructure. The two agencies collaborate closely on these programs.

The National Principles for Environmental Information were released in December 2015. These principles guide Australian Government data holders on providing discoverable, accessible and reusable information.

Criterion Qualitative assessment shows that departmental staff, state governments, business, community groups and others are using research outputs from the National Environment Science Program to inform management and policy development

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

Research under the six National Environmental Science Program (NESP) hubs began in June 2015 with 129 projects approved under the annual research plans.

The NESP requires researchers to make the outputs and data from funded research openly accessible and freely available. The Department is guiding the hubs to meet this requirement through the NESP Data and Information Guidelines. As the program matures and projects are finalised, NESP hubs are required to publish all research products and data on their websites and in enduring data repositories.

The NESP encourages the hubs to promote uptake of their research by requiring specified positions and funding to be allocated to knowledge brokering and communications activities for the life of the program.

Two evaluations of the NESP will include consideration of the engagement of stakeholders and uptake of NESP research. The first evaluation will be done in 2017-18 and the second at the end of the program in 2019-20.

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Criterion Qualitative assessment shows that departmental staff, state governments, business, community groups and others are using data on measures of key aspects of the environment to inform policy development and environmental decision-making

Result Data/information not yet available or incomplete

Candidate measures have been identified for native vegetation. A working group is developing the supporting information so that vegetation measures can be endorsed by an expert panel in late 2016. A native vegetation data custodian working group is developing tools, including a data exchange protocol, to deliver more accessible and re-useable vegetation site data.

Marine measures will be considered in 2016 and endorsed by mid-2017.

Criterion Qualitative assessment shows that departmental staff, state governments, business, community groups and others are using the 2016 State of the Environment report to inform policy development and environmental decision-making

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

Preparation of the 2016 State of the Environment report is well under way. Independent authors have been commissioned to draft nine thematic reports. Scoping papers and drafts of each theme report have been circulated extensively across the Australian and state and territory governments and experts. A synthesis report will summarise key issues and challenges across all thematic areas. The same methodology is being used as for the 2011 report, which will enable direct comparison between assessments. The report will be published in an online, highly interactive format. It will be available in early 2017.

Research has been undertaken to provide insight into current usage of the report and its products and to identify opportunities to improve their utility and impact. This is informing the 2016 State of the Environment report communications strategy, development of targeted products and plans for post-l aunch evaluation.

Objective: Protect the Alligator Rivers Region from the impacts of uranium mining11

Criterion Ensure the concentration of uranium in surface water downstream of Ranger Mine remains less than 2.8 micrograms per litre11

Result Achieved

Concentrations of uranium in surface water downstream of the Ranger mine remained well below 2.8 micrograms per litre during 2015-16, consistent with monitoring results from previous years (see Figure 2.7).

11 T his criterion was amended from ‘Ensure the concentration of uranium in surface water downstream of Ranger Mine remains less than six micrograms per litre’ in the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015-16.

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Figure 2.7: Uranium concentration downstream of Ranger mine

0

1

2

3

4

5

Uranium concentration (

µg/l)

Year

2016 2013 2010 2008 2005 2002

concentration limit = 2.8 µg/l

Criterion Annual research and monitoring programs are scientifically rigorous, appropriately targeted to key knowledge needs and independently endorsed by the Alligator Rivers Technical Committee

Result Achieved

The Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee endorsed the 2015-16 research and monitoring program in May 2015. The proposed program underwent a full relevance and priority assessment to ensure it was appropriately aligned with the Technical Committee Key Knowledge Needs published in the 2014-15 Supervising Scientist Annual Report.

www.environment.gov.au/science/supervising-scientist/publications/supervising-scientist-annual-report-2014-2015

The research and monitoring program comprised 34 research projects and 10 monitoring projects, the outcomes of which will be published in the 2015-16 Supervising Scientist Annual Technical Report at the end of 2016.

www.environment.gov.au/science/supervising-scientist/publications

Eight research projects were completed during the year and the rest continue into 2016-17, which is on target for the year’s planned research and monitoring. Twenty-five peer-reviewed publications, three Supervising Scientist reports and five internal reports were produced from the research program. The Supervising Scientist reports and internal reports are published on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/science/supervising-scientist/publications/ssr

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Objective: Improve the knowledge of, and inform decision-making on, the impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining development on water resources

Criterion During 2015-16, scientific products on the impacts of coal seam gas and coal mining development on water resources and advice provided by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) are used by decision-makers

Result Achieved

In 2015-16, the IESC, supported by the Department, provided advice in response to nine requests from the Australian, New South Wales and Queensland government regulators (all with respect to large coal mining development). All advice was provided to the requesting regulators and made publicly available within the statutory time frames. This ensures that the latest scientific information is available to regulators when making decisions on such proposals, helping support community confidence in the regulation of these developments. Positive feedback on the role and responsibilities of the IESC has been received from government and non-government stakeholders.

Advice provided by the IESC in 2015-16 and previous years is published on the IESC website.

www.iesc.environment.gov.au/committee-advice

Analysis against purpose

The Department depends on the information and knowledge gained from environmental science and research to develop effective evidence-based policy that supports its role and purposes and to make well-informed regulatory decisions.

Our 2015-16 results indicate that we continue to protect the Alligator Rivers Region from the impacts of uranium mining and have a comprehensive research and monitoring program in place to provide early warning should issues arise.

Progress against some of the performance measures for our enabling environmental science and research activities has been delayed because proposed work has proved to be more complex than originally anticipated. This is particularly the case with the bioregional assessments and essential environmental measures.

Our results reflect that some activities, such as the NESP, are in the early stages of development. There are difficulties in measuring use and uptake of information products, due partly to the time lags associated with the development of information and its use by stakeholders and partly to the diversity of media through which stakeholders and decision-m akers receive information. We are actively considering mechanisms to best assess the use of information products given the diverse nature of our data and information products and systems.

Several of our programs in this activity area made a significant contribution to the national scientific effort during 2015-16, including by directly funding scientists who produce many peer-reviewed articles each year. For example, the number of taxa revised or newly described under the ABRS exceeded the target of 200, representing a substantial contribution to understanding Australia’s biodiversity. Our continual development of the online resources of fundamental knowledge and information underpins national and international biodiversity conservation, threatened species and biosecurity management activities, including application of the EPBC Act.

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The ABRS Bush Blitz program (2010-2017) has significantly boosted the number of taxa discovered and described through ABRS over the past six years, contributing 1193 putative (accepted to be) new species. Detailed information on Bush Blitz is available in the Director of National Parks Annual Report 2015-16.

www.environment.gov.au/topics/national-parks/parks-australia/publications

C ASE STUDY

Photo: Aerial view of Hardy Reef in the Great Barrier Reef (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

Continued next page 

Towards an integrated monitoring program—Identifying indicators and existing monitoring programs to effectively evaluate the long-term sustainability plan

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef ecosystem on earth. At 348,000 km2, it is one of the richest and most diverse natural ecosystems on earth.

Protecting the Reef and keeping it healthy is an ongoing priority for the Australian and Queensland governments and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The Reef 2050 plan provides the framework for coordinated action by these agencies.

To assess whether our actions are effectively protecting the Reef, the Reef Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program will deliver integrated monitoring, modelling and reporting for the Reef and its catchment to track progress on the targets and objectives of the Reef 2050 plan.

The monitoring program is coordinated by the marine park authority, which has sought research expertise from the NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub to help deliver a complex and integrated monitoring program.

‘The NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub is providing innovative research for practical solutions to maintain and improve tropical water quality from catchment to coast, with a focus on the Great Barrier Reef.’ —Prof. Damien Burrows, Hub Leader, NESP Tropical Water Quality Hub

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The Hub brings together Australian Government research institutions, universities and the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre. It has expertise in water quality monitoring and assessment, improved land management practices, Indigenous participation and capacity building, governance evaluation and socio-economic research.

The NESP requires researchers to demonstrate early and ongoing engagement with end users to better focus research projects. The Tropical Water Quality Hub researchers consulted with the Department, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Parks Australia and the Queensland Department of the Environment and Heritage Protection to find out what information decision -m akers need and how to build this into a monitoring program.

‘This project is a great example of a researcher engaging early and often, including after the end of the contract period, to ensure the work met end-user needs.’ —Dr Fergus Molloy, Manager, Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

The engagement with research users identified gaps in current monitoring programs—a wide range of environmental, ecological and socioeconomic values, attributes and threatening processes that could be monitored to help assess progress towards the Reef 2050 plan objectives and targets. It identified the importance of specific indicators necessary to detect signals of change relevant to those objectives and targets.

The project identified the decision-making tools and frameworks for reef managers to help select, develop and prioritise indicators for a monitoring program. It provides a powerful analysis tool that allows the marine park authority to evaluate the statistical power of specific monitoring indicators and their value to the Reef 2050 plan integrated monitoring program.

‘As the first cut at identifying indicators for targets and objectives in the Reef 2050 plan, the research has been foundational to the development of the Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program which will drive adaptive management of the Great Barrier Reef.’ —Dr Fergus Molloy, Manager, Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

The NESP is supporting research into applied biodiversity and climate science by providing funding of $145 million for six research hubs and emerging priority projects from 2015 to 2021.

C ASE STUDY CONTINUED

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‘The National Environmental Science Program is delivering practical environmental and climate science research to assist decision-makers to protect and enhance Australia’s environment.’ —Kerry Olsson, Assistant Secretary, Environmental Research Information Network Branch, Department of the Environment and Energy

The NESP hubs work closely with the Minister, the Department and research end users to deliver research that informs decision-making and delivers better environmental outcomes for Australia.

C ASE STUDY

Photo: Koala in a tree (© Copyright Dan Lunney and Department of the Environment and Energy)

Continued next page 

C ASE STUDY CONTINUED

Koala habitat mapping

The Department is working with state governments to update the recovery plan for koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus).

To help with this, our Environmental Resources Information Network developed an indicative future koala habitat map to identify the best regions for conservation to preserve koala species.

Emphasis was placed on predicting viable habitat where the koala may survive as self-sustaining wild populations over the next 100 years under a plausible climate change scenario. Current climate models project a hotter and lower-rainfall climate (more drought) for the natural mainland range of the koala over the next century. To emulate these conditions, the Department used data from the second half of the millennium drought (2005-09) in the analysis.

Key inputs to the mapping process were:

› observation records for koala from the Department’s Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database

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› the National Vegetation Information System 4.2 Major Vegetation Sub-groups dataset

› the Landsat-derived Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) dataset —a common index of plant productivity and a useful proxy for the amount of energy available to arboreal (tree dwelling) marsupial folivores (leaf eating). This was sourced from the Australian Geoscience Data Cube hosted by the National Computational Infrastructure.

The mapping used validated SPRAT koala observation data located in eucalypt communities to obtain fifth-percentile NDVI values where koalas persisted during the millennium drought. These values were then applied to all imagery across the koala’s natural mainland range, constrained to eucalypt vegetation communities suitable for koala habitat.

This resultant indicative map of inferred koala habitat under hotter and mostly drier conditions will be used, along with land-use friction layers and connectivity modelling, to help identify habitat patches large enough to potentially sustain koala populations (see Figure 2.8).

We envisage that this approach could be used to map suitable habitat under climate change scenarios for other threatened terrestrial species, particularly other arboreal marsupial folivores.

Figure 2.8: An initial output of the habitat mapping process showing areas greater than 1000 ha of inferred koala habitat under hotter and mostly drier conditions

(© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

C ASE STUDY CONTINUED

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Corporate support The Department’s corporate support activity includes the work of the Corporate Strategies Division, the Policy Analysis and Implementation Division and the General Counsel Branch. These areas provide advice and support on whole-of-government policies in areas such as IT services, human resources, work health and safety, regulatory reform and policy and program evaluation, as well as providing specialist legal, economic and financial expertise to other parts of the Department.

Significant achievements for 2015-16 include:

› the Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2019, which sets out how the Department will provide an inclusive workplace that fosters respect, understanding and unity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians

› the Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy 2016-2019, which provides for our recruitment, development and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

› the commencement of the Chief Risk Officer in the Department as a practical response to the Shergold Report12

› the Disability Action Plan 2016-2019, which aims to create a ‘disability confident’ culture that supports inclusion and the removal of workplace barriers that people with disability experience

› the Evaluation Policy 2015-2020, which sets out our approach to evaluating programs and policies.

These policies set consistent approaches through which the Department can strengthen its role as an employer and enhance its capacity to serve the Australian Government. Where appropriate, the policies include performance targets and time frames for review or implementation to ensure that they are achieving their intended purpose. All the policies outlined above are available on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/accountability-reporting

This section of the annual performance statements is complemented by the reporting on corporate activities in Part 3, ‘Management and accountability’ page 104.

12 Peter Shergold, 2015, Learning from Failure: Why large government policy initiatives have gone so badly wrong in the past and how the chances of success in the future can be improved, Australian Public Service Commission.

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Results against key performance indicators

Objective: Improve the Department’s capacity to serve the Government by strengthening capability and serving the needs of the Department and Ministers

Criterion Reduction in Comcare premiums arising from Department wide consistency in case management and engagement with the Early Intervention Program

Result Not achieved

The premium rate that Comcare sets for each employer is related to the employer’s claim frequency, average claim cost and overall claim trends as well as the total amount that Comcare needs to collect from all employers to cover the cost of work-related illness and injury. Comcare premiums therefore provide one indication of the Department’s effectiveness in preventing injury or illness and in helping employees return to work quickly and safely after a work-related injury or illness.

The prescribed Comcare premium rate for the Department in 2015-16 was 2.37 per cent (excluding GST). This rate is marginally higher than the Comcare premium rate in 2014-15 (see Table 2.11). It is consistent with the Comcare premiums paid by similar government agencies. Further information on premiums paid by employers is on the Comcare website.

www.comcare.gov.au/the_scheme/premium_paying_agencies

Table 2.11: Comcare premiums from 2012-13 to 2015-16 (excluding GST)

2012-13 revised rate

2013-14 revised rate

2014-15 revised rate

2015-16

prescribed rate

Comcare premium rate 1.84% 1.54% 2.32% 2.37%

Note: As the Department was subject to machinery-of-government changes in 2015-16, rates for preceding years have been revised to reflect the current departmental structure.

Criterion Staff engagement with the Department as measured by proportion of staff who rate their experience working for the Department as ‘good’ or above in the APS Census

Result Achieved

The 2015-16 APS Employee Census concluded on 10 June 2016 and the 2015-16 State of the Service report will be tabled in Parliament on 28 November 2016.

Preliminary data from the census shows that staff of the Department have high levels of engagement with their job, team, supervisor and with the agency (see Table 2.12). Levels of staff engagement have not changed considerably since 2014-15 despite the significant changes to the Department’s organisational structure in 2015-16.

The APS Employee Engagement Model consists of four elements of engagement: job, team, supervisor and agency. The scores are calculated by transposing the answers for questions in each element onto a 0-10 scale from a 1-5 scale (where 1 equals ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 equals ‘strongly agree’).

Further information is on the State of the Service website.

stateoftheservice.apsc.gov.au

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Table 2.12: Employee engagement scores from APS Employee Census

Engagement with ...

Employee engagement score

Department score 2014-15 Department score 2015-16

APS-wide score 2015-16

Job 7 7.1 6.7

Team 7.2 7.1 6.5

Supervisor 7.5 7.5 7.2

Agency 6.1 6.1 5.7

Criterion Number of Australian National Audit Office financial statements audit findings of the Department that are rated as A, B and C

Result Not applicable

The ANAO rates its audit findings according to a risk scale. Audit findings that pose a significant risk to the entity and that should be addressed as a matter of urgency, are rated as ‘A’. Findings that pose a moderate risk are rated as ‘B’ and should be addressed by entities within the next 12 months. Findings that are procedural in nature, or reflect relatively minor administrative shortcomings, are rated as ‘C’.

There were no A, B or C audit findings in relation to the Department’s and the Natural Heritage Trust’s financial statements in 2015-16 financial year.

Criterion Number of externally reportable financial breaches

Result Not applicable

The Department has demonstrated strong capability in financial management, with no externally reportable financial breaches in 2015-16. See ‘Corporate governance’ on page 108.

Criterion Percentage of payments made within 30 days of receipt of goods/services on a correctly rendered invoice

Result Achieved

Under the Department of Finance’s Supplier Pay on-Time or Pay Interest Policy for small business, agencies are required to provide payment no later than 30 days after receiving a correctly rendered invoice. In 2015-16, we made 93.4 per cent of our payments to small businesses within the 30-day limit. This is above the benchmark of 90 per cent.

Payments by credit card are not included in this result.

Criterion Number of contracts entered into with small and medium enterprises

Result Not applicable

See ‘Small and medium enterprises’ on page 137.

98 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Criterion Proportion of ongoing staff from a non-English-speaking background by level and location

Result Not applicable

See ‘Management of human resources’ on page 129.

Criterion Gender balance for ongoing staff by level and location

Result Not applicable

See ‘Management of human resources’ on page 129.

Criterion Reduction in number and duration of Datacom and Macquarie Telecom system/user issues, to improve stability and performance of ICT systems in accordance with service agreements from the levels recorded in 2014-15

Result Achieved

In 2015-16, despite the significant system pressures encountered due to the work undertaken as part of the infrastructure refresh project, both suppliers have improved their performance against previous levels and met the stated requirements.

Criterion Proportion of Datacom post access survey respondents who rate interaction with Datacom as ‘good’ or above to meet or exceed 80 per cent of respondents

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

The Department has engaged Datacom to undertake significant system and hardware improvements. As surveying staff during this period would provide data of limited benefit, we decided to defer the survey requirement until the completion of the related projects (currently expected in November 2017).

Criterion Total (internal and external) legal spend for the Department

Result Not applicable

The Department’s total internal and external legal expenditure for 2015-16 was $9,761,269 (see Table 2.13).

As a Commonwealth agency, the Department is required to report to the Office of Legal Services Coordination within the Attorney-General’s Department about its legal services expenditure within 60 days after the end of each financial year. Agency reports are compiled into annual reports on Commonwealth legal services expenditure and these reports are available at:

www.ag.gov.au/Publications/Pages/CommonwealthLegalServicesExpenditure.aspx

Table 2.13: The Department’s annual legal services expenditure over the previous five years (excluding GST).

2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16

Internal expenditure $ 3,144,663  $ 3,261,564 $ 3,788,562  $ 4,398,719  $ 4,266,674

External expenditure $ 9,285,218  $ 8,199,926  $ 7,246,039  $ 7,729,248  $ 5,494,595

Total expenditure $ 12,429,881  $ 11,461,490  $ 11,034,601  $ 12,127,967  $ 9,761,269

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 99 98 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Criterion Total number of (direct and indirect) briefs to Counsel

Result Not applicable

The total number of briefs to Counsel in 2015-16 was 26 and amounted to a value of $247,977.

Criterion Improvement in the proportion of departmental policy briefs achieving quality standards

Result Data/information not available or incomplete

Policy briefs are the main means through which we present policy advice to the Government. The quality of policy briefs gives an indication of the quality of our policy advice. Our existing system for managing parliamentary submissions does not collect data that reflects briefing quality. To address this, we are exploring the development of a system for assessing briefing quality.

For information on other aspects of the Department’s parliamentary services, see ‘Client services’ on page 124.

Criterion Number and proportion of staff attending policy forums

Result Not applicable

The Department is committed to the ongoing professional development of its staff and encourages capability building through a number of means, including by hosting policy forums. Policy forums not only help to increase staff awareness of topical policy issues and activities undertaken throughout the portfolio but help foster a collaborative staff culture in the Department.

During 2015-16, we held a total of 26 policy forums or seminars for departmental staff. A total of 654 people attended—a total of 441 attendees, as some staff attended more than one event. The events were considered successful on the basis of staff interest (indicated through attendance) and positive feedback.

Objective: Contribute to Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage

Criterion By 2018, progress towards the Department’s commitment to achieving a target of 4.5 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff

Result Achieved

The Department’s updated Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2019 and Indigenous employment and capability strategy 2016-2019 were endorsed in early 2016. Through initiatives implemented over the year, including stronger entry-level recruitment programs and focus on activities that build workplace support, we achieved our Indigenous employment target of 4.5 per cent. At 30 June 2016, Indigenous employees represented 5.8 per cent of our workforce.

www.reconciliation.org.au/raphub/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Dept-Environ-PDF.pdf

100 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Criterion Proportion of staff who have completed training in Indigenous cultural awareness during the previous three years

Result Achieved

Over the previous three years, 374 employees have participated in the Department’s cultural awareness program, which includes a one-day awareness workshop and on-country cultural tours. At 30 June 2016, 15.2 per cent of the Department’s workforce had participated in the program.

Criterion Number of contracts entered into with Indigenous enterprises

Result Achieved

See ‘Promoting Indigenous procurement’ on page 137.

Objective: Contribute to the Government’s deregulation agenda by identifying deregulatory opportunities and considering best-practice regulatory design across the Department’s work, and broader portfolio

Criterion Department’s performance against Regulator Performance Framework indicators

Result Information/data not available or incomplete

The Australian Government’s Regulator Performance Framework, released in October 2014, aims to improve the performance of regulators by encouraging them to undertake their functions with the minimum impact necessary to achieve regulatory objectives. The Department’s first self-assessment under the framework will assess our performance against the framework’s key performance indicators for the period from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016. The report will be externally validated. The report is due to be finalised in December 2016 and will be published on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/accountability-reporting/regulator-performance-framework

Analysis against purpose

Having a diverse and engaged workforce is a priority for the Department, as it makes us culturally richer, more innovative and more productive. In 2015-16, we demonstrated our commitment to this by developing a number of corporate policies and delivering a tailored suite of staff policy forums and other training programs. These initiatives have already begun to bear fruit (see the case study below) and will continue throughout 2016-17.

Our corporate support activity had some positive results mixed with areas where we need to improve our collection of data to support performance monitoring.

We have secured funding to invest in and deliver upgrades to our IT server, network infrastructure and desktop hardware. IT upgrades will occur during 2016-17. These will include an updated software management system as well as new hardware to allow for a more stable IT environment that will bring the Department’s computer capacity to a level that allows us to use a wider range of technology.

The Department will proactively engage in a number of Australian Public Service Transformation Agenda initiatives during 2016-17—in particular, the Shared and Common Services Program and the Streamlining Government Grants Administration Program—as we progressively move towards revised service delivery models.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 101 100 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

C ASE STUDY

Photo: Some of the Department’s 2016 Indigenous Graduates L-R: Rachel McKay, Oliver Tester, Angeline Blackburn, Birrin Hooper, and Lani Barnes (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

Record intake of Indigenous graduates

The Department is committed to improving employment opportunities, experience and outcomes for Indigenous Australians. As part of this commitment, we actively participate in the whole-of-government Indigenous employment programs in the Australian Public Service. We have recognised the need to provide further entry-level employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians. In March 2015, we launched our own initiative to conduct a separate intake for Indigenous applicants to participate in our 2016 Graduate Program.

We conducted the Indigenous recruitment process in parallel with the general graduate recruitment stream. To promote the initiative, we distributed marketing material to local and interstate universities, regional Indigenous networks and online media. Undertaking a separate recruitment stream allowed us to engage directly with Indigenous candidates to promote the agency, the Graduate Program and the benefits of working in the Australian Public Service.

The initiative was a success, with eight Indigenous graduates joining the 2016 Graduate Program. This is the single largest intake of Indigenous graduates in the program’s history. We will continue the initiative to help us achieve our commitment of 4.5 per cent Indigenous employee representation by 2018 as outlined in our Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy 2016-2019.

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/accountability-reporting/indigenous-employment-and-capability-strategy-2016-2019

102 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Annual Performance Statements

Barmah Forest flooding, Victoria (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 103 102 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Management and Accountability

3

Management and Accountability

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Management and Accountability

3 Management and Accountability Corporate governance

Senior management committees and their roles

The governance structure of the Department of the Environment and Energy is designed to reinforce the Department’s strategy relating to people, policy, budget and risk. Endorsed by the Executive Board, the structure includes four departmental committees: the People Committee, the Governance and Performance Committee, the Information and Communications Technology Committee and the Departmental Health and Safety Committee (see Figure 3.1). The committees report directly to the Executive Board. A fifth committee, the Portfolio Audit Committee, reports directly to the Secretary.

A key objective of the structure is to enable an outward-looking strategic focus across the Department’s leadership team, recognising the critical role our Senior Executive Service (SES) members play in delivering our purposes.

Each committee has a clear set of responsibilities and a decision-making role for issues within their area. Consideration of matters which previously occurred at the Executive Board now occur in detail at the departmental committee level and then go to the Executive Board for decision.

Each committee comprises people from both SES Band 2 and Band 1 cohorts and is regarded as an important part of an SES officer’s corporate contribution. Members are not representatives of their own work areas but consider the organisation as a whole.

Ms Barbara Belcher’s independent 2015 Review of whole-of-government internal regulation highlighted the Department’s introduction of its four governance committees as an example of good practice in the Australian Public Service. Establishment of these committees will address the culture of risk aversion and embed a strategic focus in the Department’s decision-making.

Figure 3.1: Key departmental governance committees

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Management and Accountability

Corporate planning and evaluation

In August 2015, the Department published its Corporate Plan 2015-16, the first required under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (PGPA Rule). The plan includes our purposes and activities for 2015-16 and what we want to achieve over the four-year planning period 2015-16 to 2018-19. It sets out our role, operational context, capability and risk oversight and management.

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/publications/corporate-plan-2015-16

During 2015-16, the Department developed the Evaluation Policy 2015-2020, which sets out our approach to evaluation to support consistent and transparent assessment of government policies and inform decision-making. The policy is designed to support our implementation of the enhanced Australian Government performance framework under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act).

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/publications/evaluation-policy-2015-2020

Risk management

The Department is progressing to a more principles-based approach to risk management, consistent with the direction set by the Belcher review and the Shergold review (see page 95). In November 2015, the Department appointed a Chief Risk Officer to deepen our understanding of and engagement with risk and to help divisions with their risk management. The Chief Risk Officer identifies and monitors the most significant long-term risks facing the Department and drives cultural change through training, mentoring and shared learning.

The Department’s internal Risk Management Framework comprises policy, guidelines, tools and templates. It informs staff of responsibilities and expectations and helps them identify, analyse and manage risk.

The Chief Risk Officer oversees the framework and in 2015-16 has:

› implemented a new approach to enterprise risk reporting that captures emerging risks and opportunities alongside current enterprise risk

› engaged with other Australian Government Chief Risk Officers to share and gather information

› begun a review of the internal controls framework › improved the templates for risk assessment and major project reporting › established an internal network to drive change across divisions › integrated the current policy and guidelines into one practical document for launch in

early 2016-17.

The framework will be supported by quarterly activities. These include risk workshops, setting and communicating tolerance levels and providing a clear line of sight between the executive and divisions.

In 2016, the Department performed well in the annual Comcover Risk Management Benchmarking Survey, which measures the appropriateness of an entity’s risk management framework, processes and systems. We received an overall maturity level of ‘Advanced’ and an optimal maturity level for six of the nine elements.

106 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Management and Accountability

Internal audit

The internal audit program improves the operation of the Department by evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, controls and governance processes within and across each division.

In 2015, the Department, the Director of National Parks and the Sydney Harbor Federation Trust agreed to jointly establish a single audit committee, the Portfolio Audit Committee. This committee provides independent assurance and advice to the three organisations. The joint committee arrangement is better able to address cross-entity issues and facilitate sharing of information between the three entities. In 2015-16, the Department completed and tabled six internal audit reports to the Portfolio Audit Committee.

The committee met six times in total. Two of these meetings, both in August 2015, were under the terms of the former Departmental Audit Committee, the first to consider the 2014-15 financial statements of the Department and the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia and the second to consider the 2014-15 financial statement of the National Water Commission.

Mr Geoff Knuckey, Mr Michael Roche, Ms Vicki Middleton and Dr Diana Wright were reappointed to the Portfolio Audit Committee, from the Departmental Audit Committee, in their respective capacities as the chair and members. One new appointment was made to the committee in February 2016 when Mr Dean Knudson replaced Mr David Parker as a departmental member and Deputy Chair (see Table 3.1).

Table 3.1: Departmental Audit Committee and Portfolio Audit Committee membership and meeting attendance, 2015-16

Member Role No. of

Departmental Audit Committee meetings eligible to attend

No. of

Departmental Audit Committee meetings

attended

No. of

Portfolio Audit Committee meetings eligible to

attend

No. of

Portfolio Audit Committee meetings attended

Geoff Knuckey Independent Chair

2 2 4 4

Michael Roche

Independent Member

2 2 4 4

Vicki Middleton

Independent Member

2 2 4 3

Diana Wright Member 2 2 4 4

David Parker Member (Deputy Chair)

2 2 1 1

Dean Knudson

Member (Deputy Chair)

- - 2 2

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 107 106 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Management and Accountability

Fraud control

The Department’s Fraud Control Plan 2014-16 promotes a culture that prevents, detects and deters fraud. It:

› makes a statement of zero tolerance for fraud › sets out how we manage our fraud risks › describes employees’ fraud control responsibilities › describes our fraud prevention, detection and investigation arrangements

› sets out our fraud reporting obligations.

To reflect our activities, we review the plan every two years and whenever there is a change in our work. Fraud risk assessments underpin the plan. Appendix 1 provides the Secretary’s certification that:

› the Department has prepared fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans › appropriate mechanisms that meet the Department’s specific needs are in place for preventing, detecting incidents of, investigating or otherwise dealing with and recording or reporting fraud

› we have taken all reasonable measures to deal appropriately with fraud relating to the Department.

Fraud risk assessment

The assessment process involves senior executives, program managers and subject matter experts. They evaluate existing and emerging fraud risks annually to ensure appropriate controls are in place to manage those risks.

Fraud awareness

Our fraud awareness strategy includes online fraud awareness training and regular fraud-related messages to staff. Online training tools, to satisfy the training needs for the Department’s diverse activities, are available to staff. Face-to-face tools are currently in development.

Fraud investigation

Our Investigations and Intelligence Section and Behaviour and Conduct Unit investigated allegations of fraud and criminal behaviour that involved our staff and recipients of our funding. Risks identified through investigations were reported to relevant departmental governance committees. If appropriate, we submit briefs-of-evidence recommending prosecution to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.

The Department’s investigations were conducted in line with the Australian Government Investigation Standards and all departmental investigators have at least the minimum qualifications defined in the standards.

Project management

The Department provided strategic guidance and support for project management to ensure that departmental programs and projects were managed professionally. This included providing staff training and reviewing individual programs and projects. The Project Management Framework continues to improve policy design and implementation across the Department.

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Management and Accountability

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act compliance

Among other things, Section 19(1) of the PGPA Act requires accountable authorities of Commonwealth entities to notify their responsible minister, as soon as practicable, of any significant issue that has affected the entity. Such issues include significant non-compliance in relation to the finance law. Finance law includes the PGPA Act, the PGPA Rule, instruments made under the PGPA Act (including Accountable Authority Instructions) and appropriations Acts. During 2015-16, the Department had no significant breaches of the PGPA Act to report.

Compliance with the Government’s resource management framework is achieved by a combination of procedural and system-based controls that direct spending and resource-related decisions. Face-to-face and online training is available to all staff to support their knowledge of the requirements concerning appropriate use of public resources. Continuous internal quality assurance and monitoring activities are in place.

Central policy support

Communications and engagement

The Department’s central communications and engagement teams advised staff on communication strategies; market research; corporate branding and media policy; managing training, liaison, events and issues; and communications content and products.

A multimedia Green Army information campaign, which was launched in August 2015 and concluded in May 2016, was successful in encouraging young people to participate in Green Army projects and environment and community organisations to host Green Army projects. For further information on the Green Army see Part 2, ‘Sustainable management of natural resources’, page 24.

We continue to develop our social media presence, using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to showcase a range of policies and programs.

Our Community Information Unit responded to requests from the public for information and feedback on our services. In 2015-16, the unit responded to 12,056 enquiries, of which:

› 42 per cent were about grant and funding programs › 58 per cent were seeking general information about the Department and its programs.

In 2015-16, the Community Information Unit closed the Department’s publications shopfront and ended the contract for warehousing and distribution of publications. We have adopted a digital-by-design approach to our publications, with printing of hard copy publications now the exception.

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Management and Accountability

International engagement activities

In 2015-16, the Department’s international engagement activities strengthened key bilateral and regional relationships and advanced our expertise in science and research. Additionally we engaged with international organisations and forums that affect domestic policy, programs and legislation. We pursued outcomes in international forums related to:

› Antarctica and the Southern Ocean (see page 68) › biodiversity and ecosystem services (see pages 24, 83 and below) › climate change (see pages 56, 61) › free trade agreements

› hazardous waste and chemicals (see page 40) › the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (see page 40) › protection of the ozone layer (see pages 49, 53) › the United Nations Environment Programme (see below)

› the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Environment Policy Committee (see below)

› wetlands of international importance (see page 76) › whales and migratory species (see page 45) › wildlife trade (see page 47) › World Heritage (see page 41).

United Nations Environment Programme

The Department’s engagement with the United Nations Environment Programme included representation at the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in May 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. The assembly, to which all United Nations member states belong, is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.

The assembly convened under the overarching theme of delivering on the environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The assembly agreed to 25 resolutions, including three co-sponsored by Australia focusing on oceans and seas, marine plastic litter and microplastics and sustainable coral reef management.

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Environment Policy Committee

During 2015-16, the Department participated in strategic meetings of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Environment Policy Committee. The committee plays a role in identifying effective and economically efficient responses to environmental challenges such as polluted air, municipal waste, water scarcity, ozone depletion, biodiversity loss and climate change.

Environmental Goods Agreement

The Department has engaged in multilateral negotiations of the Environmental Goods Agreement. The agreement will eliminate tariffs on environmental goods, making them cheaper and more accessible. Environmental goods include equipment for air pollution control, solid and hazardous waste management, environmental remediation, renewable energy, energy and resource efficiency, wastewater management and water treatment and noise and vibration abatement.

110 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Management and Accountability

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Under the auspices of the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) works to strengthen the role of science in public decision-making on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The Department led Australia’s delegation to the fourth session of the plenary of the IPBES in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February 2016. The plenary revised the platform’s first work program (2014-2018), adopted a revised budget for 2017, produced its first suite of final products, including a thematic assessment on pollinators, pollination and food production and elected new members to the IPBES Bureau for the next three years.

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

Australia has been a signatory since 2000 to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification which has been adopted by 195 parties. The convention’s objective is to reverse and prevent desertification and land degradation and to mitigate the effects of drought in affected areas to support poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.

Australia has substantial policy and technical expertise in sustainable management of land and water. We contribute to long-term integrated strategies of the convention that focus on improving land productivity and rehabilitating, conserving and sustainably managing land and water resources.

Innovation and behavioural insights

The Department’s innovation and behavioural insights activities support the implementation of new ideas. Innovation is an important way of improving our performance and productivity. Innovations allow us to deliver better environmental policies or programs that support the Government’s objectives.

In July 2015, the Department participated in the public service-wide Innovation month by holding events designed to encourage, inform and enable the public service to further embrace innovation. The theme in 2015 was 'Dream, Dare, Do'. The Department’s activities focused on sharing ideas, experience, techniques and challenges. In 2015-16, for the first time the Secretary’s awards for innovation included a new category ‘new ideas’ to encourage staff to step outside their day jobs and put forward innovative solutions to a problem facing the Department. The Secretary’s awards for innovation attracted 71 nominations received across the two categories: implemented ideas and new ideas.

Ongoing support for innovation within the Department is provided by the Innovation network. The group’s role is to build awareness of innovation through sharing information, ideas, case studies, and innovation success stories.

During 2015-16, the Department used behavioural insights to inform our work. Behavioural insights uses psychology, statistics and neuroscience to understand how we make decisions and to influence people's choices. We are investigating inexpensive improvements to our policies and programs that can increase positive outcomes for the environment. In February 2016, we became a foundational member of the Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA). BETA’s mission is to build behavioural economics capability across the public service and drive its use in policy design by testing what works, where and in what context.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 111 110 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Management and Accountability

We have also run courses to increase our capability to use behavioural insights, including training to provide an understanding of the basic concepts underpinning behavioural insights and the use of randomised control trials.

Regulatory reform

The Department made another strong contribution to the Government’s objective of reducing red tape by achieving a net reduction of regulatory burden equal to $440.9 million in 2015. This was a substantial contribution to the Australian Government’s total performance for 2015.

www.cuttingredtape.gov.au/annual-red-tape-reduction-report-2015

Visiting fellow program

In 2015-16, the Department introduced a visiting fellow program. The program aims to engage external experts to obtain their insights on the portfolio’s strategic priorities and build the capability of staff in the Department. Visiting fellows are invited to challenge existing policy settings through participating in strategic conversations, critiquing policy development and providing skills and guidance where relevant. The inaugural fellow, Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds, is one of Australia’s leading researchers on sustainability and climate change policy. He is Chief Coordinating Scientist, Integration Science and Public Policy at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Honorary Professor of Public Policy at the Australian National University’s Crawford School of Public Policy.

External scrutiny

Royal commissions

Home Insulation Program

The Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program started on 12 December 2013. Public hearings were held between March and May 2014. The report was tabled in Parliament on 1 September 2014.

On behalf of the former Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP (now Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science), the Department coordinated the Government’s responses to the Royal Commission report. The interim and final responses were announced on 30 September 2014 and 23 December 2014 respectively. The former Minister provided his final update on the response on 5 February 2016.

The Royal Commission made findings about how the public service could improve to avoid similar situations in the future. In 2014, Professor Peter Shergold AC was appointed to lead an independent review of government processes for the development and implementation of large public programs and projects, including the roles of ministers and public servants. Professor Shergold presented his report to the former Minister in August 2015 and the Government publicly released it on 5 February 2016. The Department is addressing the recommendations of the report as part of the broader process by secretaries to implement them. This work is part of a broader package of measures that were undertaken by the Department in 2015 and by other departments in 2015 and 2016.

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Management and Accountability

Courts and tribunals

Australian Conservation Foundation Inc v Minister for the Environment (QUD 1017/2015)

On 9 November 2015, the Australian Conservation Foundation applied to the Federal Court for judicial review of the decision of the former Minister on 14 October 2015 to grant an approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) for Adani Mining Pty Ltd to undertake the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure Project (EPBC 2010/5736).

On 29 August 2016, the Federal Court dismissed the Australian Conservation Foundation’s application.

Beachley Street Pty Ltd v Commonwealth of Australia (SCI 2014 03294)

On 23 June 2015, Beachley Street Pty Ltd commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria against the Commonwealth for remedies including remediation of land and damages. The proceedings concerned land that the Commonwealth sold to Beachley Street Pty Ltd at which the Commonwealth operated the National Halon Bank.

On 17 May 2016, the matter was dismissed by consent.

Beverich Holdings Pty Ltd v Minister for the Environment (AAT 2016/1546)

On 29 March 2016, Beverich Holdings Pty Ltd applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of a decision to refuse a permit to export cathode ray tube glass (hazardous waste) to South Korea under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Imports and Exports) Act 1989.

The matter is yet to be listed for final determination.

Denman v Department of the Environment (AAT 2015/4928)

On 29 September 2015, Mr Denman applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for merits review of a freedom of information access decision relating to obtaining copies of subcontracts and conflict of interest declarations under a contract for an expert assessment process.

The matter is yet to be listed for final determination.

Doreen Margaret Ure v Commonwealth of Australia and Director of National Parks (NSD343/2015 and S52/2016)

On 22 May 2013, Mrs Doreen Ure applied to the Federal Court seeking a declaration that she is the owner of property rights over Middleton Reef and Elizabeth Reef in the Coral Sea Territory.

The parties agreed to submit a special case to the Court on preliminary questions of law. On 17 March 2015, the Court found that, in relation to one of the questions of the special case, there is no authority for the proposition that there is a general principle that private individuals acting in a private capacity can acquire property by occupation under international law. The Court dismissed Mrs Ure’s application as a consequence of this finding.

Mrs Ure appealed the decision, which was dismissed by the Full Federal Court on 4 February 2016.

On 2 March 2016, Paul Joseph Ure (in his capacity as the executor of the estate of the late Mrs Doreen Ure) sought leave to appeal to the High Court, which was dismissed on 5 May 2016.

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Management and Accountability

Esposito and Ors v Commonwealth of Australia and Ors (NSD78/2015 and S269/2016)

On 24 May 2013, a group of people, including Mrs Esposito, who owned land in the area known as the Heritage Estates in Jervis Bay, New South Wales, applied to the Federal Court seeking compensation and a declaration that the Commonwealth had acquired or effected the acquisition of their property on other than just terms.

On 24 December 2014, a single judge of the Federal Court dismissed the whole of the application. On 2 February 2015 the applicants appealed to the Full Federal Court. The appeal was dismissed on 17 November 2015.

On 17 December 2015, the applicants sought special leave to appeal to the High Court, which was denied on 5 May 2016.

Friends of the Shorebirds SE Incorporated v Minister for the Environment (AAT 2015/4287)

On 21 August 2015, Friends of the Shorebirds SE applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for merits review of the decision to approve the South Australian Beach-Cast Marine Algae Fishery as a wildlife trade operation under the EPBC Act.

The parties reached a mediated agreement on 3 March 2016. The Tribunal made orders on 24 March 2016 giving effect to that agreement.

Koongarra Pty Ltd v Commonwealth of Australia (VID140/2016)

On 11 February 2016, Koongarra Pty Ltd filed an application in the Federal Court for compensation on just terms under section 512 of the EPBC Act, claiming that the Commonwealth had acquired its property through the incorporation of the Koongarra Project Area into Kakadu National Park.

The matter was discontinued by consent on 15 June 2016.

Peter James Spencer v Commonwealth of Australia (NSD961/2015)

On 12 June 2007, Mr Spencer, the owner of a farm in southern New South Wales, applied to the Federal Court seeking declarations that restrictions imposed on clearing vegetation on his farm (set out in the Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997 (NSW) and the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NSW)) constituted an acquisition of property from him other than on just terms, in furtherance of agreements between the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth.

Interlocutory and other matters have progressed through the Federal Court, Full Federal Court and High Court. The High Court returned the matter to the Federal Court for hearing. The Federal Court heard the matter from 24 November 2014 to 12 December 2014. On 24 July 2015 the Court dismissed Mr Spencer’s application.

On 14 October 2015, Mr Spencer filed an appeal of the decision with the Full Federal Court. We understand that the appeal is likely to be heard in early 2017.

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Management and Accountability

Save Beeliar Wetlands (Inc) v Minister for the Environment (WAD10/2016)

On 12 January 2016, Save Beeliar Wetlands (Inc) applied to the Federal Court for judicial review of the former Minister’s decision of 21 October 2015 to grant an approval under the EPBC Act for Main Roads Western Australia to construct a highway from Roe Highway to Stock Road in Western Australia (EPBC 2009/5031).

The matter has been adjourned, pending the outcome of a Western Australian Supreme Court of Appeal case concerning the same development.

The Environment Centre Northern Territory Incorporated v Minister for the Environment (NTD3/2016)

On 15 January 2016, the Environment Centre Northern Territory Incorporated applied to the Federal Court for judicial review of the decision under sections 75 and 77A of the EPBC Act that the operation of a marine supply base at Port Melville, Melville Island, Northern Territory by Ezion Offshore Logistics Hub (Tiwi) Pty Ltd is not a controlled action provided it is undertaken in a particular manner (EPBC 2015/7510).

The matter is set down for hearing on 27 September 2016.

Tony Krajniw v Greg Hunt, Federal Minister for the Environment (QUD474/2015)

On 16 June 2015, Mr Krajniw applied to the Federal Court seeking injunctions and orders under section 475 of the EPBC Act and section 39B(1A)(c) of the Judiciary Act 1903 against the former Minister and nine other respondents.

An interlocutory hearing was held on 21 October 2015. On 25 February 2016 the matter was struck out by the Federal Court.

Western Downs Alliance Inc v Minister for the Environment and Santos Limited (NSD929/2016)

On 8 June 2016, Western Downs Alliance Inc applied to the Federal Court for judicial review of a decision on an approval under the EPBC Act for the further development of the coal seam gas fields of the Gladstone Natural Gas Project, including up to 6100 additional coal seam gas wells and associated infrastructure, in central southern Queensland (EPBC 2012/6615).

No date has been set for the matter to be heard.

Whittington (as Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment and as Director of National Parks and Wildlife) v Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Incorporated (TAD9/2016)

On 22 March 2016, Mr Whittington filed a notice of appeal of a Federal Court decision that the proposed opening and management of tracks in sensitive areas of the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape will have significant impact on the national heritage values under the EPBC Act.

On 28 April 2016, the Commonwealth was granted leave to intervene in this matter, to assist the Full Federal Court with the interpretation of the EPBC Act.

The matter was heard by the Full Federal Court on 22 and 23 August 2016.

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Wilderness Society (South Australia) Inc v Department of the Environment

On 21 December 2015, the Wilderness Society (South Australia) applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of a freedom of information access decision to provide partial access to a document regarding exploration drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

The matter was heard on 12 July 2016.

Coronial process into the death of Mr David Wood

On 12 January 2016, the death of Mr David Wood in Antarctica was referred to the Australian Capital Territory Coroner. An inquest is under way.

Decisions by the Australian Information Commissioner

‘IB’ and Department of the Environment [2016] AICmr 9

On 9 July 2015, ‘IB’, a third party consulted as part of the freedom of information primary decision, applied to the Information Commissioner for review of the Department’s decision to release the documents at issue under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). In the primary decision ‘IB’ submitted that the documents were exempt pursuant to the commercially valuable and business information exemptions (sections 47 and 47G). The Department did not accept the submissions.

On 24 February 2016, the Information Commissioner affirmed the Department’s decision to release the documents.

‘IP’ and Department of the Environment [2016] AICmr 35

On 16 February 2015, ‘IP’ applied to the Information Commissioner for review of the Department’s decision to exempt certain documents from release under the FOI Act. On 12 August 2015 the scope of the applicant’s review was confined to eight documents that the Department had decided to exempt in full under the personnel management exemption (section 47E(c)). The documents contained interviews with staff collected as part of a preliminary investigation into a code of conduct complaint.

On 8 June 2016, the Information Commissioner affirmed the Department’s decision to exempt the documents in full.

‘IT’ and Department of the Environment [2016] AICmr 38

On 15 May 2015, ‘IT’, a third party consulted as part of the freedom of information primary decision, applied to the Information Commissioner for review of the Department’s decision to release documents under the FOI Act. In the primary decision ‘IT’ submitted that the documents were exempt pursuant to the commercially valuable and business information exemptions (sections 47 and 47G). The Department did not accept the submissions.

On 20 June 2016, the Information Commissioner affirmed the Department’s decision to release the documents.

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Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Department did not receive a notice of complaint from the Commonwealth Ombudsman in 2015-16. One complaint, outstanding from 2014-15, was finalised without requiring further investigation.

Auditor-General reports

The Australian National Audit Office released one performance audit specific to the Department in 2015-16: Audit Report No. 22, Supporting the Australian Antarctic Program. It also conducted a multi-portfolio audit, Audit Report No. 7, Managing Compliance with the Wildlife Trade Provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, across the Department and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

Three other audits, Award of Funding under the 20 Million Trees Program (released 31 August 2016), Reef Trust—Design and Implementation and Replacement Antarctic Vessel, are under way and expected to be tabled in Parliament in 2016-17.

Parliamentary committee reports

The Department is responsible for coordinating the Government’s responses to the following parliamentary committee reports:

Senate Environment and Communications References Committee

National Landcare Program

On 26 June 2014, the Senate referred an inquiry into the history, effectiveness, performance and future of the National Landcare Program.

In August 2014, the Department and the then Department of Agriculture provided a joint submission to the inquiry. The Department gave evidence at the public hearing on 13 October 2014.

The committee tabled its final report on 25 March 2015.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Great Barrier Reef

On 25 March 2014, the Senate referred an inquiry into the adequacy of the Australian and Queensland governments’ efforts to prevent the decline of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Government (led by the Department) and the Queensland Government provided a joint submission to the inquiry. The Department gave evidence at the public hearing on 21 July 2014.

The committee tabled its final report on 3 September 2014.

The Government’s response was tabled on 14 April 2016.

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Stormwater

On 16 March 2015, the Senate referred an inquiry into stormwater resources in Australia for report by 25 June 2015.

On 24 June 2015, the Senate granted an extension of time to the inquiry to report by 19 August 2015.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry.

The committee tabled its final report on 2 December 2015.

Responsibility for coordinating the Government’s response now sits with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, as a result of machinery-of-government changes that occurred on 21 September 2015.

Australia’s environment

On 18 June 2014, the Senate referred an inquiry into the Abbott Government’s attacks on Australia’s environment and their effects on our natural heritage and future prosperity for report by the third sitting day in 2015. On 27 August 2014, the Senate granted an extension of time to report until the third-last sitting day in June 2015. The closing date for submissions was extended to 10 November 2014.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 13 May 2015.

The committee tabled its final report on 23 June 2015.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

The Government’s Direct Action Plan

On 10 December 2013, the Senate referred an inquiry into the Australian Government’s Direct Action Plan for inquiry and report by 24 March 2014. On 18 March 2014 the Senate granted an extension of time to report by 26 March 2014.

The Department gave evidence at the inquiry on 18 March 2014.

The committee tabled its final report on 26 March 2014.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

The finfish aquaculture industry in Tasmania

On 24 March 2015, the Senate referred an inquiry into the regulation of Tasmania’s aquaculture industry, including matters related to waterway health, the adequacy of environmental planning and regulatory mechanisms and the economic impacts and employment profile of the industry, for report by 10 August 2015.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry.

The committee tabled its final report on 21 August 2015.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

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Recent trends in and preparedness for extreme weather events

On 28 November 2012, the Senate referred an inquiry into recent trends in and preparedness for extreme weather events for report by 20 March 2013. On 23 July 2013 the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 7 August 2013.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the committee’s 11 April 2013 public hearing.

The committee tabled its final report on 7 August 2013.

The Government’s response was tabled on 3 August 2015.

Impacts of mining in the Murray-Darling Basin

On 12 August 2009, the Senate referred an inquiry into the impacts of mining in the Murray-Darling Basin to the then Environment, Communications and the Arts References Committee for report by 26 October 2009. The Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 4 December 2009.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 14 October 2009.

The committee tabled its final report on 4 December 2009.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

The threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia

On 18 June 2015, the Senate referred an inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia and Australian waters for inquiry and report by 8 April 2016.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 26 February 2016.

The committee tabled its final report on 20 April 2016.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee

Australia’s future activities and responsibilities in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters

On 24 March 2014, the Senate referred an inquiry into Australia’s future activities and responsibilities in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters for report by 28 August 2014.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 26 September 2014.

The committee tabled its final report on 29 October 2014.

The Government’s response was tabled on 4 February 2016.

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Contamination of Australia’s Defence Force facilities and other Commonwealth, state and territory sites in Australia

On 30 November 2015, the Senate referred these matters for inquiry. The contamination of Australian Defence Force facilities (Part A) report was due on 4 February 2016 and the contamination of other sites using firefighting foams (Part B) report was due on 30 April 2016. On 17 March 2016, the Senate extended the reporting date for the inquiry (Part B) to 11 May 2016.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 7 April 2016.

The committee tabled its final report on 4 May 2016.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee

Management of the Murray-Darling Basin

On 28 October 2010, the Senate referred an inquiry into the management of the Murray-Darling Basin for report by 30 November 2011.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 9 August 2011.

The committee tabled its final report on 13 March 2013.

Responsibility for coordinating the Government’s response now rests with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, as a result of machinery-of-government changes that occurred on 21 September 2015.

Management of the Murray-Darling Basin: the impact of mining coal seam gas on the management of the Murray-Darling Basin

The committee, as part of its inquiry into management of the Murray-Darling Basin (above), examined the impact of mining coal seam gas on the management of the Murray-Darling Basin. The reporting date was 30 November 2011. On 6 February 2013, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 13 March 2013.

The committee tabled its final report on 13 March 2013.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Senate Select Committee on Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration related to Commonwealth Government Affairs

On 30 September 2014, the Senate established the select committee to look at aspects of the Queensland Government administration as they related to Commonwealth government affairs, including environmental concerns.

The committee tabled its final report on 27 March 2015.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

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Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines

On 24 November 2014, the Senate resolved to establish the select committee to inquire into and report on the application of regulatory governance and the economic impact of wind turbines by 24 June 2015.

On 12 May 2015, the Senate granted an extension of time for reporting until 3 August 2015.

The committee tabled its final report on 3 August 2015.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change, Environment and the Arts

Managing Australia’s biodiversity in a changing climate

On 2 June 2011, the former Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon Tony Burke MP and the former Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the Hon Greg Combet MP, asked the committee to inquire into and report on Australia’s biodiversity in a changing climate.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 12 October 2012.

The committee tabled its final report on 17 June 2013.

The Government’s response was tabled on 2 May 2016.

House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment

Streamlining environmental regulation, ‘green tape’ and one-stop shops

On 27 February 2014, the former Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, asked the committee to inquire into and report on streamlining environmental regulation, ‘green tape’, one-stop shops and issues related to environmental regulation and deregulation.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at public hearings on 27 March 2014 and 26 June 2014.

The committee tabled its final report on 23 February 2015.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

Register of Environmental Organisations

On 26 March 2015, the committee adopted an inquiry referred by the former Minister asking it to inquire into and report on the administration, transparency and effectiveness of the Register of Environmental Organisations under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 and its effectiveness in supporting communities to take practical action to improve the environment.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at public hearings on 16 June and 26 November 2015.

The committee tabled its final report on 4 May 2016.

The Treasury is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

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Joint Select Committee on Northern Australia

Inquiry into opportunities for expanding the aquaculture industry in northern Australia

On 6 March 2015, the former Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, received a referral to inquire into and report on opportunities for expanding the aquaculture industry in northern Australia. The inquiry built on issues previously raised with the committee and allowed for a more in-depth approach to examining an industry that has the potential to significantly contribute to growing the economy of northern Australia.

The Department made a submission to the inquiry and gave evidence at the public hearing on 15 September 2015.

The committee tabled its final report on 22 February 2016.

The Department is coordinating the Government’s response to the report.

Freedom of information

Under Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 the Department is required to publish certain information as part of the Information Publication Scheme. The Department’s Information Publication Scheme statement can be found on its website.

www.environment.gov.au/topics/about-us/freedom-information/information-publication-scheme

The Freedom of Information Contact Officer can be contacted at:

Freedom of Information Contact Officer General Counsel Branch Department of the Environment and Energy GPO Box 787 Canberra ACT 2600 Phone: (02) 6274 2098 Fax: (02) 6274 2837 Email: foi@environment.gov.au

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Work health and safety The Department is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 to ensure health and safety at work and to assist ill and injured workers. The Department maintains a strong commitment to the health, safety and wellbeing of all staff.

This section includes initiatives, outcomes and statistics for the Department, with the exception of the Parks Australia Division. The Director of National Parks annual report includes the health and safety initiatives and outcomes specific to the division and the statistics on departmental staff seconded to it and on visitors to the parks.

Our work health and safety (WHS) policies and procedures aim to achieve best practice in health and safety management in order to reduce the social and financial cost of occupational injury and illness and improve business performance. We have an overarching WHS policy, a due diligence framework and a safety strategic plan for our WHS management systems at the Canberra offices, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Parks Australia Division.

We have made significant progress over the past 12 months in developing the Department’s corporate work health and safety management system. This is a structured system designed to help minimise the risks to our workers’ health and safety and to improve our health and safety performance. The system is based on AS/NZS4801:2001, an industry standard that acknowledges genuine commitment to safety, safety planning and implementation at all levels of the organisation; regular monitoring of performance; and periodic system reviews to ensure a cycle of continuous improvement.

The Department’s rehabilitation management system is the framework of processes and procedures to ensure that we can achieve our rehabilitation objectives, including keeping employment costs such as compensation as low as possible. It benefits people management and outcomes across a range of performance areas including recruitment, retention, productivity, absenteeism and staff satisfaction.

An initial Comcare audit of the rehabilitation management system was conducted in August 2015. The audit examined the system’s effectiveness and degree of integration with the Department’s normal business. As a consequence of this audit we adopted a strategic focus on primary intervention and injury prevention in 2015-16. This included a comprehensive revision of key policies underpinning the rehabilitation management system, focusing on strengthening the frameworks and operational capacity for rehabilitation to provide for early response to minimise the incidence and severity of injury and disease/illness at work and for rehabilitation based on the principle of work engagement during recovery.

Health and safety initiatives for the year

The Department promotes early intervention and prevention through its health, safety and wellbeing systems, policies and programs, which focus on continuous improvement and staff wellbeing. During 2015-16, we:

› promoted a number of wellbeing initiatives, including Mental Health Week and resilience training

› expanded the workplace contact officer network to include more contacts in regional areas. These officers received training for the role, including specialist training in mental health first aid

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› developed an early intervention strategy to help managers identify and respond to warning signs of possible physical and mental health injury, including anxiety and stress and respond to reports of accidents and incidents in the workplace

› provided access to the employee and manager assistance programs, resilience coaching, annual influenza vaccinations and training for health and safety representatives and first aid officers

› continued to address key work health and safety risks. These are highlighted in divisional risk registers in consultation with the Departmental Health and Safety Committee

› undertook ongoing risk management activities including workplace inspections, risk assessments and individual workstation assessments

› continued to work on maintaining good relationships with Comcare and other service providers to ensure effective decision-making and good rehabilitation outcomes for injured employees.

The Australian Antarctic Division conducted extensive health and safety induction processes and specialist expeditioner training during 2015-16 to equip workers to deal with the remote, hazardous and high-risk environments in which the division operates. The dedicated steering committee continues to focus on hazardous chemical management and to promote its work across the division. In 2015-16, the division raised general staff awareness of WHS through its participation in Safe Work Month in October 2015. Safety continues to be a fundamental priority for the division.

Statistics of notifiable incidents under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Under Schedule 1, Part 3 of the WHS Act, agencies must notify Comcare of certain types of incidents within specific timeframes. Table 3.2 details the incidents of which the Department notified Comcare in 2015-16.

Table 3.2: Incidents notified under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, 2015-16

Type of incident Canberra

workplaces

Supervising Scientist Branch

Australian

Antarctic Division

Deaths that required notice under section 38 0 0 1

Serious injury or illness that required notice under section 38 0 0 6

Dangerous incidents that required notification under section 38

1 2 1

Notices given to the Department under section 191 (improvement notices)

0 0 0

Notices given to the Department under section 195 (prohibition notices)

0 0 0

Notices given to the Department under section 198 (non-disturbance)

0 0 0

Investigations

In the Canberra offices, the Supervising Scientist Branch, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Parks Australia Division, there were no formal investigations or provisional notices issued by the regulator, Comcare, under Part 5, Division 7, section 90 of the WHS Act in 2015-16.

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Within the Australian Antarctic Division a formal investigation commenced in January 2016 by Comcare, under Part 8, Division 2, section 155 of the WHS Act.

Client services

Meeting service standards

The Department’s Service Charter 2014-2016 sets out the standards of service clients can expect and how clients can give feedback on performance. The charter is available in hard copy —contact the Community Information Unit toll free on 1800 803 772 and online.

www.environment.gov.au/about/publications/charter.html

In 2015-16, the Department’s Client Service Officer received two formal complaints. The Department received 17 other items of feedback on the standard of our service delivery and 19 general enquiries. We received 23 messages through the Client Service inbox that were incorrectly addressed or spam.

All complaints and feedback were forwarded to the appropriate work area for noting or for action in line with the requirements of our Service Charter.

The Client Service Officer can be contacted at:

Client Service Officer Department of the Environment and Energy GPO Box 787 Canberra ACT 2601 Phone: 02 6274 2725 Toll free: 1800 803 772 Fax: 02 6274 1970 Email: client.service@environment.gov.au

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Parliamentary services

The Department provided strategic engagement advice and services to the offices of our ministers and the Parliamentary Secretary. We continue to take a leading role in the whole-of-government initiative to better manage parliamentary documents.

In 2015-16, we prepared 2111 submissions and briefs for the ministers and the Parliamentary Secretary.

Ministers and the Parliamentary Secretary received 225,342 items of correspondence in 2015-16. Of these, 198,145 (88 per cent) were coordinated campaign correspondence, which was handled by the Parliamentary Services Section (see Table 3.3).

Table 3.3: Amount of ministerial correspondence over the past five years (excluding campaign correspondence)

Year Number of correspondence items

2011-12 15,243

2012-13 47,116

2013-14 24,458

2014-15 51,493

2015-16 27,197

Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance This information is presented in accordance with the requirements of section 516A of the EPBC Act. Section 516A requires the Department to report on:

1. how its activities accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development. Activities include developing and implementing policies, plans, programs and legislation and the operations of the organisation

2. how its outcomes and corporate plan purposes, specified in relevant appropriation acts, contribute to ecologically sustainable development

3. the environmental impacts of its operations during the year and measures taken to minimise these impacts.

The Department has produced guidelines for Australian Government agencies to report on how they contribute to ecologically sustainable development. The guidelines are available on our website.

Application of ecologically sustainable development principles

The Department administers the EPBC Act, which promotes ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of natural resources.

Examples of how we apply the principles of ecologically sustainable development are in Table 3.4.

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Table 3.4: Examples of how the Department applies the principles of ecologically sustainable development

Principles Activities

Integration principle: decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations.

• The Department applies the integration principle when assessing applications for mining in the Alligator Rivers Region, taking into account the long-term and short-term considerations of both the environment and the traditional communities who have lived there for thousands of years. We drew on this principle in preparation for the closure and rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine.

• The National Water Initiative embodies the integration principle by setting out a nationally agreed set of principles to manage water resources in a way that optimises economic, social and environmental outcomes over the short and long term. In 2015-16, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office continued to draw on these principles in making decisions on the use, carryover and trade of Commonwealth environmental water to achieve Basin Plan targets and the Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy for the Murray-Darling Basin.

Precautionary principle: if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.

• The Department employs a modified precautionary principle approach at the Ranger uranium mine through a legislative requirement to reduce any harm associated with uranium mining to a level as low as reasonably achievable. Our Supervising Scientist Branch sets guideline water quality values based on the best available science and adjusts the values as further data become available.

• One of the principles that guides our implementation of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan is to ensure ‘decisions are underpinned by the principles of ecologically sustainable development, including the precautionary principle’.

• We apply the precautionary principle when deciding on Commonwealth environmental water use. Decisions are based on the best available information (including local knowledge). Given the highly variable operating environment, decisions are often made in the absence of full scientific certainty of the ecological outcomes. Importantly, adaptive management (including a long-term monitoring and evaluation program) ensures knowledge improves over time.

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Principles Activities

Intergenerational principle: the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced, for the benefit of future generations.

• In accordance with current regulatory requirements, the Department’s Supervising Scientist fosters the intergenerational principle by working to ensure protection of the environment from the effects of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region for 10,000 years. To support meeting these regulatory requirements, we monitor the environmental performance of the Ranger uranium mine to ensure the protection of the surrounding Alligator Rivers Region, including Kakadu National Park and the communities that have lived there for thousands of years.

• In helping design and implement a stable and enduring framework of policies to carefully guide Australia’s transition to a low-emissions economy, the Department has fostered the intergenerational principle. At the centre of this framework are the Emissions Reduction Fund and its safeguard mechanism. These policies are complemented by the Renewable Energy Target, the National Energy Productivity Plan, measures to improve vehicle efficiency, action to reduce emissions from harmful hydrofluorocarbons and investments in clean energy innovation through the Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation.

• The Department is involved in progressing the National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy. The strategy aims to build national climate resilience and integrate climate risks in management decisions for the benefit of the community, economy and environment. Through these measures we are leading the way in putting Australia on track to meet its 2020 and 2030 emissions reduction targets and playing a critical role in maintaining and enhancing the health, diversity and productivity of the environment for future generations.

• The Reef 2050 plan incorporates the intergenerational principle by seeking, through its vision, to ensure the Great Barrier Reef continues to improve its outstanding universal value and maintain its status as a natural wonder for each successive generation. An example of the intergenerational principle at work is the release in 2014-15 of the Reef 2050 Policy Guideline for Decision Makers, which provides advice on how to incorporate the Reef 2050 plan into decision-making, including guidance on the practical application of the principles.

Biodiversity principle: the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision-making.

• We develop policies to guide our actions and set a clear direction for the way we conserve biodiversity, particularly via our Threatened Species Strategy. This strategy sets out a plan for how the Australian Government will prioritise effort and work in partnership with the community, private sector, state, territory and local governments to halt the decline of Australia’s threatened plants and animals and increase their resilience to environmental pressures.

• Another application of the biodiversity principle is that one of the five criteria against which all Commonwealth environmental watering actions are assessed is consideration of the ecological value of targeted environmental asset(s).

• The Supervising Scientist Branch develops site-specific quantifiable water quality trigger values to guide biodiversity protection in the regulation of uranium mining.

Valuation principle: improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.

• The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office upholds the valuation principle through its implementation of the Commonwealth environmental water trading framework when trading water allocations. The framework includes a set of operating rules that ensure any water access trades are competitive, transparent and informed by market assessment. This approach supports enhanced outcomes through maximising the environmental benefit that can be achieved by selling water allocations and reinvesting in the delivery of environmental water when required.

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Contribution of outcomes to ecologically sustainable development

The Department’s role is to advise on and implement environment and energy policy to support the Government in achieving a healthy environment, strong economy and thriving community now and for the future.

All departmental outcomes and corporate plan purposes contribute to ecologically sustainable development as detailed throughout this annual report and in the annual performance statements in particular (see page 17).

Operational environmental impacts and performance

We continue our commitment to ensuring that our corporate operations reflect environmental best practice in a public service agency both in urban office environments and in the remote and regional areas we are responsible for managing.

We manage our operational environmental impact by:

› fostering a culture of environmental responsibility at work, including online guidance for all staff

› providing training for regional and remote area field staff, scientists and support staff in sound environmental management practices in Antarctica, World Heritage areas, national parks and reserves

› promoting efficient use of energy, water, paper and other natural resources › preventing or minimising pollution, waste to landfill and greenhouse gas emissions › fulfilling our local, national and international legal and other obligations relating to environmental management

› developing and implementing management plans that identify and address environmental risks and opportunities for environmental improvement at all offices, field sites, laboratories and other departmental sites

› monitoring and reporting on our environmental performance, both internally and externally.

We have an active environmental contact officer network, ECONet, of staff who volunteer for the role. In conjunction with the local environmental performance managers and teams, ECONet provides leadership, ideas and initiatives to support and promote a culture of environmental responsibility.

Due to the diverse nature of our operations across Australia, external territories and the Southern Ocean, day-to-day operational environmental performance is managed at a local level by environmental performance officers. We coordinate whole-of-department policies, initiatives and reporting where relevant.

The local area management approach is supported by a number of local environmental performance committees, environmental policies and environmental performance action plans for the Australian Antarctic Division, the Supervising Scientist Branch and the Canberra offices.

The Department has an environmental management system for all operations of the Australian Antarctic Division in Australia, the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. This system was re-certified to the international standard for environmental management systems (ISO14001:2004) in 2013-14.

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A supplementary report on the Department’s performance against a number of environmental indicators is available on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/accountability-reporting/environmental-performance

Management of human resources

Workforce profile

The Department has a diverse workforce of 2467 people carrying out a range of activities in all states and territories, external territories and Antarctica. Of these, 1742 employees (71 per cent) are located in Canberra and 725 (29 per cent) outside Canberra.

Our workforce statistics are presented in Tables 3.6-3.8. All statistics are as at 30 June 2016.

Table 3.5: Key to job classification symbols

Symbol Job Classification

Secretary Secretary of the Department

FTOH Full-time office holder—refers to the Chief Executive of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency

PEO Principal Executive Officer—refers to the Director of National Parks, a statutory office holder

SES 1-3 Senior Executive Service bands 1-3—includes Chief of Division, Australian Antarctic Division

EL 2 Executive Level Band 2—includes equivalent Expeditioner, Expeditioner Antarctic Medical Practitioner, Head Office Antarctic Medical Practitioner, Principal Legal Officer, Principal Research Scientist, Senior Principal Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist and Senior Public Affairs Officer

EL 1 Executive Level Band 1—includes equivalent Expeditioner, Expeditioner Antarctic Medical Practitioner, Head Office Antarctic Medical Practitioner, Public Affairs Officer, Research Scientist and Senior Legal Officer

APS 6 Australian Public Service Level 6—includes equivalent Expeditioner, Legal Officer, Public Affairs Officer and Research Scientist

APS 5 Australian Public Service Level 5—includes equivalent Expeditioner, Public Affairs Officer and Legal Officer

APS 4 Australian Public Service Level 4—includes equivalent Expeditioner, Legal Officer and Public Affairs Officer

APS 3 Australian Public Service Level 3—includes equivalent Expeditioner, Graduate and Legal Officer

APS 2 Australian Public Service Level 2—includes equivalent Expeditioner

APS 1 Australian Public Service Level 1—includes cadet recruits and school leavers

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Table 3.6: Job classification, gender and location as at 30 June 2016 Location

Gender

Classification

Total

Secretary

FTOH

PEO

SES 1-3

EL 2

EL 1

APS 6

APS 5

APS 4

APS 3

APS 2

APS 1

ACT

Female

1

27

98

272

325

168

119

64

1

1075

Male

1

1

29

93

192

195

76

49

30

1

667

Antarctica

Female

5

1

1

2

9

Male

4

1

7

10

1

31

54

Indian Ocean

Female

1

1

2

3

2

5

14

Male

1

2

3

2

5

4

6

23

Jervis Bay

Female

1

1

1

1

1

9

14

Male

2

2

2

6

7

19

New South Wales

Female

1

2

3

Male

1

1

Norfolk Island

Female

1

1

2

Male

1

1

4

6

Northern Territory

Female

1

3

7

12

13

35

17

1

32

121

Male

1

8

10

10

12

22

16

8

37

124

Queensland

Female

4

2

1

1

8

Male

1

1

2

South Australia

Female

1

1

Male

2

2

Tasmania

Female

1

12

26

37

26

19

16

137

Male

4

47

31

52

21

19

3

1

178

Victoria

Female

0

Male

2

3

5

Western Australia

Female

1

1

Male

1

1

Total

 

1

1

1

63

273

553

655

335

279

204

17

85

2467

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Table 3.7: Full-time employees under the Public Service Act 1999 as at 30 June 2016

Ongoing Non-ongoing Total by gender

Female Male Subtotal Female Male Subtotal Female Male Total

Department—all other divisions 767 680 1447 77 102 179 844 782 1626

Parks Australia Division

116 132 248 23 19 42 139 151 290

Total 883 812 1695 100 121 221 983 933 1916

Note: These statistics do not include the Director of National Parks, Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Chief Executive Officer and ARENA Chief Financial Officer as they are not appointed under the Public Service Act 1999.

Table 3.8: Part-time employees under the Public Service Act 1999 as at June 2016

 

Ongoing Non-ongoing Total by gender

Female Male Subtotal Female Male Subtotal Female Male Total

Department—all other divisions 243 58 301 31 13 44 274 71 345

Parks Australia Division

33 4 37 94 72 166 127 76 203

Total 276 62 338 125 85 210 401 147 548

Note: These statistics do not include the Director of National Parks, ARENA Chief Executive Officer and ARENA Chief Financial Officer as they are not appointed under the Public Service Act 1999.

Workforce planning, staff retention and turnover

Workforce planning and support for change management has been critical in helping the Department manage workforce challenges in 2015-16.

Following a period of downsizing, our workforce stabilised during 2015-16. To support and strengthen the capability of employees to deal with change, the Department:

› undertook pulse surveys of staff attitudes › held regular meetings between the Secretary and all EL 2 and, separately, EL 1 staff › held focus groups to test employee views on key issues › implemented strategies to build employee engagement and attendance culture.

Our retention rate for ongoing employees was 83.3 per cent, compared to 86.2 per cent in 2014-15. Our overall separation rate for the financial year was 30 per cent. This figure includes non-ongoing employees primarily engaged to meet seasonal operational requirements of the Australian Antarctic Division and the Parks Australia Division and separations initiated by the Department (dismissals and voluntary redundancies). Excluding these, the separation rate for ongoing employees was 8 per cent, an increase from 5 per cent in 2014-15. This increase is primarily due to expanded hiring by other agencies across the Australian Public Service and the completion of organisational downsizing initiatives.

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Developing people and managing performance

During the year, the Department focused on investing in our leadership capability and building the professional and technical skills of our employees to be effective public servants. Ensuring that we have the right people with the capability to take on future leadership roles is being addressed by implementing our new Talent Management Strategy 2016-19. We continued to deliver our Excellence in Leadership and Management Program to build strategic leadership and people management capabilities. In 2015-16, a total of 66 employees attended four deliveries of the program.

We helped employees to develop their capabilities as public sector professionals through a tailored suite of core skills training programs aligned to the Department’s capability framework. In 2015-16, a total of 708 participants attended 54 in-house training programs on a range of topics including policy development, writing for the Minister and for the Australian Public Service, coaching and developing people, building high performing teams, using Microsoft products, personal effectiveness and business skills.

We continued to invest in e-learning programs to improve access to essential Public Service knowledge and skills. Fraud awareness training was rolled out to all employees and our orientation program for new employees was reviewed and converted to an e-learning format.

The Department strongly supports professional development through external tertiary study. In 2015-16, 91 employees were registered as students under our Study Support Scheme.

Helping managers to identify and manage performance issues through targeted training and personalised guidance remained an important activity in 2015-16. Information sessions on the operation of the manager-one-removed process and end-of-cycle assessments were delivered under the Performance Development Scheme Framework. The Executive Board continued to receive reports on completion of performance agreements and performance ratings so that they could identify any trends. In 2015-16, the Department began a review of the Performance Development Scheme Framework. The review is due for completion in August 2017 and is expected to deliver a more innovative and practical performance framework.

Enterprise agreement

The Department continued to negotiate a new enterprise agreement. After a proposal put to staff in December 2015 was voted down, the Department resumed bargaining in good faith. Staff are consulted regularly, consistent with the existing enterprise agreement and the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy.

The expired 2011-2014 enterprise agreement will remain in place until a new agreement is negotiated. It provides a framework of staff entitlements and conditions, including salary ranges.

www.environment.gov.au/resource/enterprise-agreement-2011-2014

Individual flexibility arrangements

The current enterprise agreement provides for individual flexibility arrangements negotiated in recognition of particular skills, capabilities or additional responsibilities or to help meet special workplace circumstances or operational requirements. There were 51 individual flexibility arrangements in place as of 30 June 2016 in the Department, including in the Parks

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Australia Division, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Senior executive service employment agreements and remuneration

Senior Executive Service employees have their terms and conditions set by individual determinations made by the Secretary under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999. As of 30 June 2016, there were 56 individual SES section 24(1) determinations.

In determining remuneration for SES employees the Secretary has regard to:

› the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy › the Australian Public Service Commission Executive Remuneration Management Policy › Australian Public Service Commission annual SES remuneration survey › departmental performance

› linked productivity improvements › general economic conditions and relevant market considerations.

The Secretary reviews individual SES salaries annually following the performance cycle, taking into account the work values and complexities of each role and the capabilities, contributions and performance of individuals. Remuneration rates for senior executives were last set in January 2016.

Performance pay

The Department does not provide performance pay.

Employment arrangements

The Department’s employee profile shifted significantly in 2014-15 following two sets of machinery-of-government changes: the departure of the Water Group to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the arrival of the ARENA from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science in late 2015 and the departure of the Cities Taskforce to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in March 2016.

The employment terms and conditions of non-SES staff who transferred to the Department as a result of these changes became those of our prevailing enterprise agreement. One non-SES employee retained a common law contract supplementing the enterprise agreement. SES employees moved to new individual section 24(1) determinations.

As of 30 June 2016, all non-SES employees were covered by the enterprise agreement. All SES employees were employed under individual section 24(1) determinations. The Department no longer has any Australian Workplace Agreements.

Data on employment arrangements for all staff, including those in the ARENA, the Parks Australia Division and the Australian Antarctic Division, is provided in Table 3.9.

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Table 3.9: Employment arrangements as at 30 June 2016

Employment arrangements staff coverage Employees

Enterprise agreement

Non-SES 2411

SES 0

Individual section 24(1) determinations

Non-SES 0

SES 56

Individual common law contracts

Non-SES 1

SES 0

Note: The non-SES employee on a common law contract has coverage under the Department’s enterprise agreement (dual coverage) and is included in the count of non-SES employees under the enterprise agreement.

Code of conduct and ethical standards

The Department is committed to the Australian Public Service Values, Code of Conduct and Employment Principles and to promoting a positive workplace culture. We demonstrate this by encouraging our workforce to articulate and model appropriate behaviours and by decisively addressing incidents of workplace misconduct. The Department’s Conduct and Ethics Behaviour Framework includes the Code of Conduct guidelines, procedures for suspected breaches of the Code of Conduct, the Workplace Respect Policy and the public interest disclosure process. Each employee is required to acknowledge their understanding of and commitment to, the APS Values, Code of Conduct and Employment Principles in their annual performance agreement. Training and support are the preferred preventive mechanisms for behaviour management. This supports the key tenets of the Department’s early intervention strategy.

Diversity

In 2015-16, the Department paid extra attention to creating an inclusive culture that supports the recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce. We published a renewed Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2019 and Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy 2016-2019, which together provide a comprehensive framework to foster a culturally inclusive workplace and ensure the Department is an employer of choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. These documents identify practical initiatives that aim to increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees in the Department to 4.5 per cent by 2018. While we have already exceeded this target, achieving more representation across classifications and job roles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees remains a priority.

Promoting different employment pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continued to be an important focus for the Department. We recruited trainees through the Indigenous Apprenticeship and Indigenous Australian Government development programs and employed our largest cohort—eight—of Indigenous graduates through two separate graduate recruitment processes (see the case study 'Record intake of Indigenous graduates' on page 101).

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We celebrate National Reconciliation Week and National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee Week (NAIDOC) annually. Each week includes a comprehensive program of activities that celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and aims to promote respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

We deliver targeted development and workplace support activities through the annual Kevin McLeod Award and our cultural awareness program. In 2015-16, the award funded one recipient to undertake a secondment project to research and develop a framework for an Indigenous cultural coaching program and three Parks Australia employees to participate in the Department’s leadership program in Canberra. Data on the diversity of the Department’s employees is included in Table 3.10.

Table 3.10: Diversity groups, including number of employees who identify as Indigenous, as at 30 June 2016

Diversity group Employees (no. and proportion) Department’s supporting strategy

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander

141 (5.7%) Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy 2016-2019

People with disability 49 (2%) Disability Action Plan 2016-2019

People from a non-English-speaking background

204 (8.2%) Diversity Strategy 2013-2017

Note: Data sourced from the Australian Public Service Employment Database and based on all employees, including Parks Australia Division staff.

We increased opportunities for employees to develop Indigenous cultural capability by launching an introductory e-learning module and by delivering four on-country cultural tours in the Canberra region, which were attended by 65 employees. Additionally we continued to deliver our existing one-day cultural awareness workshop, which was attended by 112 employees over the year.

Disability

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020, which sets out a 10 year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level, two-yearly report will evaluate progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with a disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014, and can be found at www.dss.gov.au.

In 2015-16, the Department published its Disability Action Plan 2016-2019, which builds on the achievements of previous plans and aims to increase the focus on recruiting and developing employees with disability (see above Table 3.10). During the year the Department participated for the first time in an internship program arranged through the Australian Network on Disability to employ three students with disability. Our program of events for Mental Health Month in October 2015 was designed to support staff with disability and increase awareness of mental health issues.

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Assets management

Departmental activities

The Department’s assets are located throughout Australia and its territories, with the majority located in the Australian Antarctic Territory and managed by the Australian Antarctic Division. During 2015-16, the Australian Antarctic Division managed and maintained Australia’s Antarctic stations, Casey, Davis and Mawson and a research station on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. The Australian Antarctic Division has in place an asset management plan for each station.

Administered activities

The Commonwealth’s environmental water holdings managed by the Department are recorded on the respective state government water registers. The water entitlements are classified as indefinite life intangible assets and are subject to annual impairment testing in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards Board 138 Intangible Assets.

Procurement

Spending

The Department undertook procurement and purchasing in 2015-16 in accordance with the principles set out in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules 2014. These rules are applied to the Department’s procurement activities through the Secretary’s Instructions and reinforced through other guidance materials to ensure that we undertake competitive, non-discriminatory procurement processes; use resources efficiently, effectively, economically and ethically; and make decisions in an accountable and transparent manner.

All staff engaged in procurement receive guidance and training to ensure compliance with the Commonwealth procurement rules for all relevant spending activities. There is a central point of contact to advise staff on the Commonwealth procurement rules, Secretary’s Instructions and tendering processes.

Reporting

In 2015-16, the Department published on the AusTender website:

› tender opportunities with a value of $80,000 or more › details of all contracts awarded with a value of $10,000 or more › a procurement plan providing details of expected procurements for 2015-16.

We publish details of all contracts with a value of $100,000 or more entered into or active during the 12 months in accordance with the Senate Order Government Agency Contracts.

www.tenders.gov.au

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Consultancy services

The Department engages consultants where it lacks specialist expertise or requires independent research, review or assessment. Consultants are typically engaged to investigate or diagnose a defined issue or problem; carry out defined reviews or evaluations; or provide independent advice, information or creative solutions to assist in the Department’s decision-making.

Before engaging consultants we take into account the skills and resources required for the task, the skills available internally and the cost-effectiveness of engaging external expertise. The decision to engage a consultant is made in accordance with the PGPA Act and related rules, including the Commonwealth procurement rules and relevant internal policies.

Information on the value of contracts and consultancies offered is available on the AusTender website.

www.tenders.gov.au

During 2015-16, the Department entered into 112 new consultancy contracts involving total actual expenditure of $4.96 million (GST inclusive). In addition, 27 ongoing consultancy contracts were active, involving total actual expenditure of $1.69 million (GST inclusive).

Exempt contracts

There were no standing offers or contracts in excess of $10,000 (GST inclusive) exempted from being published on AusTender under the FOI Act.

Small and medium enterprises

The Department supports small business participation in the Australian Government procurement market. Our statistics on participation of small and medium enterprises are available on the Department of Finance website.

www.finance.gov.au/procurement/statistics-on-commonwealth-purchasing-contracts/

The Department requires employees to test the marketplace for procurements valued above and below the tender thresholds in the Commonwealth Procurement Rules to ensure that small businesses have regular opportunities to compete for available business.

We recognise the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury website.

www.treasury.gov.au

Promoting Indigenous procurement

The Department is committed to broader engagement with Indigenous-owned businesses to source goods and services across the spectrum of purchasing activities. This commitment goes beyond any specific obligation to meet procurement contract targets set out in the Australian Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy. In 2015-16, we contracted Indigenous businesses to provide goods and services on 64 occasions.

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Internal measures implemented throughout the Department in 2015-16 consolidated our early efforts to raise awareness of the importance of procuring from Indigenous business by cementing best practice into our standard procurement processes and systems.

Grant programs

In accordance with reporting requirements set out in the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines (July 2014), information on grants awarded by the Department during the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 is available on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/accountability-reporting/grants-listing

Advertising and market research expenditure During 2015-16, the Department conducted the Green Army recruitment and call for projects campaign. Further information on this advertising campaign is available on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/land/green-army

Further information is also available in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance.

www.finance.gov.au/advertising/campaign-advertising-reports.html

Payments made during 2015-16 that exceeded the reporting threshold of $12,700 (GST inclusive) are presented in Table 3.11.

Table 3.11: Advertising and market research expenditure in excess of $12,700, 2015-16 (GST inclusive)

Agency Purpose Expenditure (GST inclusive)

Advertising agencies

One Small Step Collective Green Army recruitment and call for projects campaign $615,298.73

Market research organisations

Orima Research Pty Ltd Market research for the Green Army $192,046.19

JWS Research Pty Ltd Market research for Emissions Reduction Fund

$87,560.00

Essential Media Communications

Market research for National Parks $29,150.00

Orima Research Pty Ltd Market research for Reef Trust and Australian Government environmental programs

$66,330.00

JWS Research Inform the development, marketing and promotion of Australian Government environment information resources, primarily State of the Environment 2016

$73,920.00

Polling organisations

N/A

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Agency Purpose Expenditure (GST inclusive)

Direct mail organisations

N/A

Media advertising organisations

Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Green Army recruitment and call for projects campaign

$2,439,170.06

Dentsu Mitchell Media Australia Antarctic Expeditioner recruitment $74,225.78

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Palm Fronds alongside El Questro Creek in the Central Kimberley (© Copyright Cathy Zwick and Department of the Environment and Energy)

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The main penitentiary building at the Port Arthur Historic Site (Part of the World Heritage Listed Australian Convict Sites), Tasmania (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

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5 Legislative reporting

Operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Section 516 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) requires the Minister to prepare an annual report on the operation of the EPBC Act. This section meets this reporting requirement for 2015-16.

Purpose

The objects of the EPBC Act are to:

› provide for the protection of the environment, especially matters of national environmental significance

› conserve Australian biodiversity › protect and conserve world, national and Commonwealth heritage › promote ecologically sustainable development › promote a cooperative approach to the protection and management of the environment

› implement Australia’s international environmental responsibilities › recognise the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity

› promote the use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s knowledge of biodiversity.

Further information is on the Department’s website

www.environment.gov.au/epbc/about

Operation

Environmental referrals, assessments and approvals

Matters of national environmental significance

The EPBC Act assessment and approval processes apply to any action likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance. The nine matters of national environmental significance are:

› world heritage properties › national heritage places › wetlands of international importance (often called ‘Ramsar’ wetlands after the international treaty under which such wetlands are listed)

› nationally threatened species and ecological communities

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› migratory species › Commonwealth marine areas › the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park › nuclear actions (including uranium mining)

› a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development.

When an action is referred to the Commonwealth for consideration under the EPBC Act, the Department of the Environment and Energy looks at the details of the action to see whether it will have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.

The Minister or their delegate will then decide whether the action needs to be assessed further—this is the ‘referral decision’.

A referral decision will be one of the following:

› Controlled action: this means that a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance is likely and the activity needs Commonwealth assessment and approval. A method of assessment will then be chosen, which will vary depending on the scale and complexity of the activity (alternatively, the activity might be assessed under a bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and a state or territory)

› Not controlled action, particular manner: this means the activity does not need further assessment but must be carried out in the manner prescribed in the decision

› Not controlled action: this means the activity does not need further assessment because it is not likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance

› Clearly unacceptable: this means the activity cannot proceed because it is clear that it will have an unacceptable impact on matters of national environmental significance. This is a decision to refuse approval for the project.

For actions determined to be a ‘controlled action’ the Commonwealth will do an environmental impact assessment using one of the following methods:

› Assessment on referral information: completed solely on the information provided in the referral form

› Assessment on preliminary documentation: completed based on the referral form and any other material identified by the Minister as being necessary to adequately assess a proposed action

› Assessment by environmental impact statement or public environment report › Assessment by public inquiry › Assessment under a bilateral agreement in accordance with a state/territory assessment process specified in a bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and the

state/territory

› Accredited assessment in accordance with a state/territory or Australian Government process that has been accredited by the Minister on a case-by-case basis.

Following the assessment, the Minister or their delegate will then make a decision to approve, approve with conditions or not approve the proposed action.

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State and local government approvals may cover matters other than those protected by national environment law under their legislation, so an activity may need approval from all three levels of government. Throughout the assessment, the Department works with its state and territory counterparts to ensure information is shared and assessments are aligned where possible.

Alternatively, if a proposed action is covered by an assessment bilateral agreement then that action is assessed under the accredited state/territory process. After assessment, the proposed action still requires approval from the Minister under the EPBC Act.

Further information on EPBC Act referrals, approvals, assessments and matters of national environmental significance is provided in Tables 5.1-5.5 in Appendix A to this report and on our website. The Department publishes all referrals on its website to give the public an opportunity to comment.

www.environment.gov.au/epbc/public-notices

Strategic approaches

Strategic assessments under the EPBC Act consider Commonwealth and state or territory environmental planning issues in a single assessment. These assessments can reduce the regulatory burden and reduce uncertainty for developers, landholders, planners, industry and government. Strategic assessments explicitly consider landscape-scale and cumulative environmental impacts.

Under section 146 of the EPBC Act the Minister may agree to assess the impacts of actions under a policy, plan or program, such as:

› regional-scale development plans and policies › large-scale industrial development and associated infrastructure › fire, vegetation, resource or pest management policies, plans or programs › policies for water extraction and use

› industry sector policies.

For further information see ‘Environment and heritage regulation’ in Part 2, ‘Annual performance statements’, page 37.

Actions by the Australian Government and actions on Commonwealth land

As well as protecting nine matters of national environmental significance, the EPBC Act regulates actions that have a significant environmental impact on Commonwealth land or that are carried out by an Australian Government agency, including the disposal of Commonwealth land. The agency or employee must inform the Minister of the proposal, and the Minister must assess the action before advising the agency or employee on how to proceed. The referral, assessment and approval process described above applies in the same way to actions on Commonwealth land and actions by Australian Government agencies.

In 2015-16, the Minister determined that two actions relating to Commonwealth land were controlled actions and that two were not controlled actions provided they are done in a particular manner.

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We received five requests for advice from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and Airservices Australia in relation to proposals involving Commonwealth airports. The Minister’s delegate determined that advice was not required for three of the proposals and that advice was required for two proposals. In one case we provided the advice; in the other case the provision of advice is pending, subject to internal processes.

Antarctic Treaty environment protection

The EPBC Act exempts certain actions from requiring permits if a permit for that action has been issued under the Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980 (ATEP Act). The EPBC Act states that, where an action is taken in accordance with a permit issued under the ATEP Act and the permit is in force, certain actions involving listed threatened species and ecological communities, migratory species and listed marine species are not offences. Two of the permits issued by the Department under the ATEP Act in 2015-16 granted such exemptions.

Access to biological resources and benefit sharing

Part 8A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 controls access to biological resources in Commonwealth areas for the purposes of research and development on genetic resources and biochemical compounds.

Under Part 8A of the Regulations, the Department issued 35 permits for access to biological resources in Commonwealth areas in 2015-16.

Cetacean permits

In the Australian Whale Sanctuary (all Commonwealth waters from the three nautical mile state waters limit out to the boundary of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone) a permit under the EPBC Act is required to take, keep, move or interfere with (harass, chase, herd, tag, mark or brand) a cetacean or to possess or treat (divide or cut up, or extract any product from) a cetacean. Australian residents must get a permit to carry out such activities in waters beyond the sanctuary—that is, in international or foreign waters. In 2015-16, Australia issued five cetacean permits and varied the conditions of two existing cetacean permits (see Appendix A, Table 5.6).

www.environment.gov.au/marine/marine-species/cetaceans/australian-whale-sanctuary

Protection of natural and cultural places and values

The Government provides protection under the EPBC Act for World Heritage properties and for places on the National Heritage and Commonwealth Heritage lists. Under the EPBC Act, the Minister must give an approval before a proponent takes any action that may have a significant impact on the heritage values of a listed place.

Where a World Heritage property or National Heritage place is entirely within a Commonwealth area (or areas), the Minister must make a written plan for managing it. Where a World Heritage property or National Heritage place is in a state or a self-governing territory, the Commonwealth must use its best endeavours to ensure that a plan is prepared and implemented cooperatively with the state or territory. State and territory governments are responsible for managing most of Australia’s World Heritage places. As at 30 June 2016, management plans for eight of these World Heritage properties were under review or being updated.

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Management plans are in place for all World Heritage properties managed by the Commonwealth. The Department is undertaking a review of the management arrangements for listed heritage places, including contacting place owners and managers and reviewing the consistency of plans with the management principles in the EPBC Regulations.

Management plans for World Heritage properties must be consistent with Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention and Australia’s World Heritage management principles. The EPBC Regulations prescribe principles for managing National Heritage places.

The Commonwealth agency that owns or controls a Commonwealth Heritage place must make a written plan for managing it. The plan must address matters prescribed by the EPBC Regulations and not be inconsistent with the Commonwealth Heritage management principles.

World Heritage List

Australia has 19 properties on the World Heritage List. These properties—some of which have multiple sites—are protected under the EPBC Act and have associated management requirements. All Australian properties on the World Heritage List have management plans.

At its meeting in July 2015 the World Heritage Committee requested that Australia invite a monitoring mission to review and provide advice on the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, including on the revision of the management plan, a survey of the property’s cultural attributes, further work on the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and the state of conservation of the property as a whole.

In November 2015, experts representing the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the International Council on Monuments and Sites visited Tasmania to see first-hand the management of the property and meet with stakeholders representing a wide range of community interests.

The Australian and Tasmanian governments welcomed the report of the reactive monitoring mission when it was released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Centre in March 2016. The governments accepted all of the mission’s recommendations. Responses to each recommendation were included in the State Party Report on the State of Conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area that was submitted to the World Heritage Centre in April 2016.

National Heritage List

Each year the Minister is required to set a Finalised Priority Assessment List for the National Heritage List identifying places that the Australian Heritage Council will assess for their National Heritage values. The complete list of places that the council is currently assessing for National Heritage values is published on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/topics/heritage/heritage-places/finalised-priority-assessment-lists

The council completed preliminary consultations and National Heritage assessments for four places during 2015-16, and its final assessment for another. The Minister added three places to the National Heritage List: the Burke, Wills, King and Yandruwandha National Heritage Place (SA, QLD); Fitzgerald River National Park (WA) and Lesueur National Park (WA). In accordance with the requirements of the EPBC Act the Department will use its best endeavours to ensure a plan for managing the National Heritage values of each of these places is prepared in cooperation with place owners and managers.

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Commonwealth Heritage List

Eight places were added to the Commonwealth Heritage List: six air traffic control towers (NSW, VIC, SA, TAS), Bundanon Trust Property (NSW) and the Royal Australian Mint (ACT). One place became ineligible (after its transfer to a non-Commonwealth agency) and was removed. There are 396 places on the Commonwealth Heritage List.

Commonwealth reserves

The EPBC Act provides for establishing and protecting Commonwealth reserves, including marine and terrestrial areas, through preparing and implementing management plans and issuing permits for a range of activities.

The Director of National Parks is responsible for managing an estate of marine and terrestrial protected areas that are Commonwealth reserves. The Director of National Parks prepares a separate annual report on their management which is available on the Parks Australia website.

www.environment.gov.au/topics/national-parks/parks-australia/publications

As at 30 June 2016, the Director of National Parks is responsible for managing seven Commonwealth terrestrial and 59 Commonwealth marine reserves. Of these, management plans are in place for all terrestrial reserves and the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network, which comprises 14 marine reserves.

An independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review was completed with reports of the Bioregional Advisory Panel and Expert Scientific Panel provided to Government in December 2015. The review addressed zoning and management arrangements and the future research and monitoring priorities for the Commonwealth marine reserves proclaimed in 2012. The panels undertook extensive consultation, including over 260 stakeholder meetings conducted in five regions, a round of public submissions and an online survey. The review will be publicly released and will inform public consultations on the new management plans that will be developed by the Director of National Parks.

Under delegation from the Director of National Parks, staff of the Department’s Australian Antarctic Division manage the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve under the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve Management Plan 2014-2024.

The EPBC Act and Regulations prohibit a range of activities in Commonwealth reserves unless authorised. Under the Regulations, the Director of National Parks may prohibit, restrict or determine the manner of conduct of certain activities. Contravening a provision of the Act or Regulations is a criminal offence and civil pecuniary penalties may be imposed for certain unauthorised actions.

A whole-of-government approach is taken to compliance and enforcement in Commonwealth marine reserves, supporting aerial and vessel patrols, vessel monitoring and enforcement investigations. In addition to the role of officers of the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Border Force, officers from other agencies—including the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, state and territory police, and fisheries and conservation agencies —can be appointed as wardens under the EPBC Act after completing the required training. These arrangements greatly increase the ability of the Director of National Parks to enforce the EPBC Act in remote Commonwealth reserves. Further information on compliance and enforcement in terrestrial (Table 5.7) and marine (Table 5.8) reserves is in Appendix A.

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Protection of species and ecological communities

The EPBC Act provides for the protection of Australia’s native species and ecological communities through a range of measures, including:

› identifying and listing threatened species and ecological communities and migratory and marine species

› developing conservation advices and, where appropriate, recovery plans for listed threatened species and ecological communities to identify threats and prioritise actions to provide for recovery

› developing wildlife conservation plans for the protection, conservation and management of listed migratory species, listed marine species, species of cetaceans and conservation-dependent species

› recognising key threatening processes and, where appropriate, developing threat abatement plans to guide action to abate threats

› regulating export trade in specimens derived from regulated native species › assessing the management arrangements of Australian fisheries, including all Commonwealth-managed fisheries and all state and territory fisheries with an export component, to help ensure they are managed in an ecologically sustainable way.

Species and ecological community listing assessment outcomes

The Minister may list threatened fauna and flora in six categories defined by the EPBC Act: extinct, extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable, and conservation-dependent. Species listed as extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable are matters of national environmental significance. The Threatened Species Scientific Committee advises the Minister on these listings.

The Minister made listing decisions on assessments for 72 species. There were 40 new species listings, 19 deletions, five transfers to higher threat categories and eight species retained in the same category. The listings are detailed in Tables 5.9 and 5.10 in Appendix A.

At the time of listing, extensive information was published in approved conservation advices on the status and distribution of each species, the main factors that led to its eligibility for listing and priority conservation actions.

Ecological communities can be listed as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable. Those listed as critically endangered and endangered are matters of national environmental significance. Listing ecological communities helps to protect vital species habitat and ecosystem functions.

The Minister made listing decisions on the assessments for five ecological communities. There were four new listings:

› Southern Highlands shale forest and woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (critically endangered)

› Eucalypt woodlands of the Western Australian wheatbelt (critically endangered) › Natural temperate grassland of the South Eastern Highlands (critically endangered) › Warkworth Sands woodland of the Hunter Valley (critically endangered).

Following a listing review, Natural temperate grassland of the Southern Tablelands (NSW and ACT) was deleted.

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Conservation advices and recovery plans

The EPBC Act provides for making or adopting recovery plans and approved conservation advices for listed threatened species and ecological communities.

Approved conservation advices provide guidance on recovery and threat abatement activities, including research priorities to ensure the conservation of newly listed species or ecological communities. The Minister is required, in certain circumstances, to have regard to approved conservation advices when deciding whether to approve an action under Part 9 of the EPBC Act. The Minister or his delegate approved 176 new or revised conservation advices for species and five new conservation advices for ecological communities.

The Department prepared and published on our website conservation advices for all new listings and for species and ecological communities that have been transferred between categories.

www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/sprat.pl

Recovery plans set out the research and management actions needed to stop the decline and support the recovery of listed threatened species or threatened ecological communities. The Department, with state and territory government environment agencies, invested in the recovery of threatened species and ecological communities by developing and implementing recovery plans. The Minister approved 10 recovery plans, covering 20 species and one ecological community (see Appendix A, Tables 5.11 and 5.12).

The Department published six guidelines that provide information to help with regulatory decision-making about individual listed species or groups of listed species. The Department published guides to help land managers, environment professionals and the general public to identify, assess and manage two ecological communities (Natural temperate grassland of the South Eastern Highlands and Central Hunter Valley eucalypt forest and woodland) on the Species Profile and Threats database. These publications are listed in Appendix C.

Wildlife conservation plans

A wildlife conservation plan sets out the research and management actions necessary to support survival of one or more migratory, marine, conservation-dependent or cetacean species listed under the EPBC Act that, while not considered threatened, would benefit from a nationally coordinated approach to conservation. The Minister approved one wildlife conservation plan covering 35 species of migratory shorebirds.

www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/publications/wildlife-conservation-plan-migratory-shorebirds-2016

Key threatening processes and threat abatement plans

The EPBC Act provides for the listing of key threatening processes. A threatening process is one that threatens or may threaten the survival, abundance or evolutionary development of a native species or ecological community (Appendix A, Table 5.13 details all listed threatening processes). The Threatened Species Scientific Committee advises the Minister on the listing of key threatening processes and on whether a threat abatement plan or other action is needed to abate these processes.

The Minister approved the Threat abatement plan for predation by feral cats.

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The Department completed statutory reviews of the:

› Threat abatement plan for the biological effects, including lethal toxic ingestion, caused by cane toads (2011)

› Threat abatement plan to reduce the impacts of exotic rodents on biodiversity on Australian offshore islands of less than 100,000 hectares (2009)

› Threat abatement plan for beak and feather disease affecting endangered psittacine species (2005).

Threat abatement plans are published on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/threat-abatement-plans

Wildlife trade and management

Under the EPBC Act, the Department can grant approvals to export specimens derived from regulated native species or species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) or to import regulated live animals. Trade in native or CITES-listed specimens may be permitted in certain circumstances if the trade is for an authorised commercial or non-commercial purpose, such as where the species have been derived from an approved captive breeding program, an artificial propagation program, an aquaculture program, a wildlife trade operation or a wildlife trade management plan.

In 2015-16, the Department approved:

› five artificial propagation programs › two aquaculture programs › four wildlife trade operations (non-fisheries) › two wildlife trade management plans.

We completed 58 assessments for transfers of a wide range of live animals, including gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), common wombat (Vombatus ursinus) and Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis), for exhibition in zoos and aquaria. Of these, 52 required assessments of the facilities to ensure their suitability to house the animals.

Import of wildlife products

Under Part 13A of the EPBC Act it is an offence to import or export a CITES-listed specimen, export a regulated native specimen or import a regulated live specimen unless a permit has been issued or the import or export is covered by an exemption under the Act. Where products from CITES-listed species are imported into Australia without the required permits, the products may be seized (Appendix A, Table 5.14). The most common items seized were traditional medicines that included extracts of animal or plant products.

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C ASE STUDY

Photo: Suitcases on a transportation belt at an airport (© Copyright Aldegonde Le Compte, Dreamstime.com)

Exotic fish in man’s luggage

Where products made from CITES-listed species are imported into Australia without the required permits, the products are considered to have entered the country illegally. These products can be seized on the Department’s behalf by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Commonly seized products include decorations made from ivory and traditional medicines made from parts of endangered animals, such as rhino horns.

In 2015, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection detected 20 plastic bags containing 176 live exotic aquarium fish concealed in a Singaporean man’s luggage on his arrival at Adelaide Airport from Singapore. The Singaporean national and an Australian national, who was the intended recipient, were convicted of illegally importing the exotic fish. Both men were sentenced to two years and seven months imprisonment.

In 2015-16, Australia issued 1400 permits for the import of wildlife. Of these, 1381 were for CITES-li sted wildlife, 11 for non-CITES-listed live animals and eight for testing. The testing permits were issued for importing insects for trials of biological controls of invasive species. Species most often covered by import permits include alligators, crocodiles, caimans, monitors and pythons. All permits for these species were associated with the fashion industry, including items such as handbags, shoes, watchstraps and belts. The top 10 species covered by wildlife import permits account for 69 per cent of all such permits issued (see Appendix A, Table 5.15).

Live imports

The live import list comprises species and specimens that may be imported live into Australia. A person cannot legally import live specimens of a species that is not listed on the live import list, even if it has previously been imported or is already known to be in Australia. Anyone can apply to the Minister to amend the live import list to include a new species.

The applicant must provide a report that assesses the risks the species may pose to the Australian environment. Each species proposed for inclusion on the live import list is the subject of a detailed assessment, including public consultation. In 2015-16, the Minister approved two additions to the live import list:

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› a microwasp (Tachardiaephagus somervillei), included under Part 2 of the list as a biocontrol agent for yellow crazy ants on Christmas Island only

› a cochineal insect (Dactylopius tormentosus), included under Part 1 of the list as a biocontrol agent for chain fruit cholla (an invasive cactus).

The Minister refused two proposed additions to the list:

› Asian arowana (Scleropages formosus) › Myanmar arowana (Scleropages inscriptus).

The Department is assessing four further applications received during the year for amendments to the live import list.

Exports of wildlife products

The EPBC Act requires wildlife harvesting for export to be ecologically sustainable and, for live animals, to meet welfare requirements. Commercial exports of items containing native species must be sourced from a program that demonstrates the ecological sustainability of the harvest. Aside from commercial fisheries, over 100 such programs are currently approved under the EPBC Act for native species including plants, saltwater crocodiles, kangaroos, possums and some invertebrates.

Exports of regulated native species and CITES-listed species usually require a permit under Part 13A of the EPBC Act. In 2015-16, Australia issued 711 permits for the export of wildlife. Of these, 405 permits were issued for the export of CITES-listed wildlife, 214 for native species (non-CITES listed wildlife) and 92 for other regulated wildlife exports. In addition, 12,537 personal baggage permits were issued for the export of personal items containing regulated wildlife products.

Species most often covered by wildlife export permits include crocodiles, alligators, corals, kangaroos, pythons, elephants and blackbuck (see Appendix A, Table 5.16). Exports of crocodile, alligator and python products are generally associated with fashion items such as handbags, shoes, watchstraps and belts. Corals were usually exported live in the aquarium trade, kangaroos generally as meat and skins and elephant products generally as antique ivory items. Blackbuck items are exported as hunting trophies. As individual export permits often cover multiple species and the total number of different species exported is high, the top 10 species covered by export permits accounted for only 16 per cent of all wildlife export permits issued.

Fisheries assessment and approvals

Under the EPBC Act the Department assesses Australian fisheries to ensure they are managed in an ecologically sustainable way and to identify areas for improvement. Of the 43 fisheries we assessed in 2015-16, three were Commonwealth managed, 36 were state managed and four were smaller scale operations. Eleven fisheries were approved as wildlife trade operations and 32 were exempted from the export provisions of the EPBC Act. Of the 32 fisheries exempted, 30 received 10-year exemptions and two received five-year exemptions. See the case study 'Longer-term export approvals for low-risk fisheries' in Part 2, ‘Annual performance statements’, page 51.

The Department assessed all fisheries consistent with statutory requirements (see Appendix A, Table 5.17). Following these assessments, we imposed conditions and/or recommendations

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intended to maintain or improve the ecologically sustainable management of the fisheries in the short to medium term. We published the conditions and recommendations for fisheries in detailed reports on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/index.html

Meeting statutory time frames under section 518 of the EPBC Act

Section 518 of the EPBC Act provides for reporting of non-compliance with time limits imposed under the EPBC Act. In 2015-16 we made 66 per cent of the 1389 referral, assessment and approval decisions under the EPBC Act within the statutory time frame. Further information on statutory time frames for referral, assessment and approval is in Table 5.18 in Appendix A.

In 2015-16, we made 99 per cent of the 2073 decisions under other provisions of the EPBC Act within the statutory time frame. Information on decisions that did not meet statutory time frames and the reason for the delay is provided in Table 5.19 in Appendix A.

Decisions and legal actions

The EPBC Act provides a framework to protect Australia’s matters of national environmental significance. It provides for enforcement mechanisms for managing suspected or identified instances of non-compliance and for reviewing the compliance of referred projects. Enforcement mechanisms include environmental audits, infringement notices and civil and criminal penalties. Remediation orders and determinations may require repair or mitigation of environmental damage.

The following matters were determined by courts during 2015-16:

› On 8 July 2015, Mr Jamie Gentles was convicted and fined $1500 in the New South Wales Magistrates Court at Port Macquarie for an offence against regulation 12.56(1) of the EPBC Regulations. On 27 April 2014, Mr Gentles was detected using a recreational fishing vessel with fishing equipment not stowed and secured in the Cod Grounds Commonwealth Marine Reserve contrary to a prohibition on recreational fishing in the reserve.

› On 14 April 2016, Mr Jack O’Connor and Mr Alexander Chala were convicted in the Northern Territory Local Court at Darwin for offences against the EPBC Regulations. Mr O’Connor was fined $3500 and Mr Chala $2500. In addition, items used in the commission of the offences, with a value of about $4500, were ordered to be forfeited to the Commonwealth. The offenders were detected in Kakadu National Park on 14 October 2015 engaged in illegal pig-hunting activities.

› On 30 May 2016, Mr Myles McIntosh was convicted and fined $8000 in the Queensland District Court at Maroochydore for an offence against section 354A(5) of the EPBC Act. In February 2015, Mr McIntosh was the master of the Australian fishing vess el Santa Lucia, which was detected undertaking commercial long-line fishing in the sanctuary zone surrounding Elizabeth Reef within the Lord Howe Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

› On 24 June 2016, the masters and 28 crew of two Vietnamese fishing vessels were convicted in the Northern Territory Local Court at Darwin for offences against section 354A(5) of the EPBC Act. The master of one vessel was sentenced to four months imprisonment, and the master of the other vessel to three months imprisonment. All crew members were sentenced to two months imprisonment. The masters and crew were also convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for periods ranging from two to seven months for offences against sections 100B and 101AA of the Fisheries Management Act 1999. All sentences were ordered to be

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served concurrently but suspended on the offenders entering into good behaviour bonds (three years for the masters and two years for the crew members). The two vessels were apprehended on 2 June 2016 undertaking illegal fishing within the Lihou Reef Sanctuary Zone of the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

› On 29 July 2015, Mr Darryl Tan was convicted and fined $19,000 in the Downing Centre Local Court (Sydney) for offences against sections 303CD, 303EK and 303GN of the EPBC Act. Mr Tan had entered a plea of guilty to charges of importing and possessing CITES-listed species.

› On 3 November 2015, the master of an Indonesian Type 2 Foreign Fishing Vessel was sentenced to a $900 fine for offences against section 229(C) of the EPBC Act. The vessel was apprehended on 10 October 2015 after being intercepted about 120 nautical miles off north Western Australia. The investigation revealed that the bait on the hooks was meat from a melon-headed whale (a cetacean).

› On 5 April 2016, Mr Norman Wayne Gardner was convicted and fined $7500 in the Darwin Magistrates Court for aiding and abetting the commission of an offence against section 74AA of the EPBC Act. The offence, which was committed between July and December 2012, involved the clearing of land to construct a haul road connecting a mine site to Bing Bong Port in the Northern Territory before receiving Commonwealth approval.

As at 30 June 2016, three other matters were before the courts.

Statement of reasons

Section 13 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 provides that a person aggrieved by a decision made under legislation may request a statement setting out the findings on material questions of fact, referring to the evidence or other material on which those findings were based and giving the reasons for the decision (statement of reasons). Additionally, sections 77(4)(b) and 78C(4)(b) of the EPBC Act allow people to request a statement of reasons about controlled action decisions and the reconsideration of controlled action decisions.

Eleven statements of reasons were provided in response to 13 requests made in 2015-16 under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 and the EPBC Act. The two additional statements of reasons were due and responded to in July 2016.

Reconsideration of a decision

Under section 78 of the EPBC Act, reconsideration of a referral decision under section 75 of the Act is available in limited circumstances. Typically reconsiderations are completed on request when there is substantial new information or a substantial change in the likely effects on protected matters.

In 2015-16, the Minister or his delegate made 196 referral decisions, of which three were reconsidered decisions.

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Committees

Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development

The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) is a statutory committee established in October 2012 under the EPBC Act. The IESC provides independent scientific advice to the Australian, Queensland, New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian governments on the water-related impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining development, including any impacts of associated salt production and/or salinity. The IESC draws on its expertise in hydrology, hydrogeology, geology and ecology and on the best available science, such as that being delivered through the Australian Government’s Bioregional Assessment Program, to formulate its advice. This process is strengthening the science supporting environmental regulatory decision-making.

The IESC held eight meetings during 2015-16, preparing advice on the water-related impacts of eight large coal mines for the Australian, New South Wales and Queensland governments. Membership details are at Appendix B, Table 5.20. Further information is on the IESC website.

www.iesc.environment.gov.au

Indigenous Advisory Committee

The Indigenous Advisory Committee, established under section 505A of the EPBC Act, provides advice to the Minister on the operations of the EPBC Act by incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s knowledge of land management and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The committee held one face-to-face meeting in Canberra in 2015-16 and three meetings by teleconference. Membership details are at Appendix B, Table 5.21. Further information is on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/indigenous/committees/iac.html

Australian Heritage Council

The Australian Heritage Council, established under the Australian Heritage Council Act 2003, is the Australian Government’s principal advisory body on heritage matters. It is responsible under the EPBC Act for assessing the heritage values of places nominated for possible inclusion in the National Heritage List and Commonwealth Heritage List and for advising the Minister on heritage issues. The council met four times in 2015-16. Membership details are at Appendix B, Table 5.22.

www.environment.gov.au/heritage/organisations/australian-heritage-council

Threatened Species Scientific Committee

The Threatened Species Scientific Committee, established under section 502 of the EPBC Act, advises the Minister on amending and updating lists of threatened species, threatened ecological communities and key threatening processes, all listed under the EPBC Act. It advises on the development or adoption of recovery and threat abatement plans. The committee had four major meetings in 2015-16. Membership details are at Appendix B, Table 5.23.

www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/tssc

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Legislative amendments

Autumn and Spring Omnibus Bills

The Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015 was introduced to the House of Representatives on 18 March 2015 and to the Senate on 12 October 2015. It included technical amendments to the EPBC Act to abolish the Biological Diversity Advisory Committee and remove spent provisions. The Bill passed on 4 May 2016 and received royal assent on 5 May 2016.

The Omnibus Repeal Day (Spring 2015) Bill 2015 was introduced to the House of Representatives on 12 November 2015 and to the Senate on 2 February 2016. It included technical amendments to the EPBC Act to correct minor inaccuracies and to remove a redundant publishing requirement. The Bill was before the Senate when it lapsed at the prorogation of the 44th Parliament on 17 April 2016.

One Stop Shop Bill

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014 (One Stop Shop Bill) was introduced to the House of Representatives on 14 May 2014 and to the Senate on 19 June 2014. It included amendments to the EPBC Act to enable the One Stop Shop policy and the operation of bilateral agreements.

On 14 September 2015, the Government moved amendments in the Senate to exclude the ‘water trigger’ from the scope of approval bilateral agreements and to make some other minor technical amendments.

The Bill was before the Senate when it lapsed at the prorogation of the 44th Parliament on 17 April 2016.

Standing Bill

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 was introduced to the House of Representatives on 20 August 2015 and to the Senate on 14 September 2015. It included an amendment to repeal section 487 of the EPBC Act, which provides extended standing to seek review of decisions made under the Act.

The Bill was before the Senate when it lapsed at the prorogation of the 44th Parliament on 17 April 2016.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 261 260 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Appendix A: Statistics and other information

This appendix comprises statistics on the operation of the EPBC Act in 2015-16.

Environmental referrals, assessments and approvals

Table 5.1: Overview of EPBC Act referrals and approval of actions, 2015-16

2015-16 Total since EPBC Act commenced in 2000

Referral decisions

Total referrals received 209 5574

Referrals withdrawn before (controlled action) decision 9 255

Referrals where a decision has been made (including reconsiderations) 196 5244

Approval required—controlled action 72 1528

Approval not required—action to be taken in a particular manner

30 1042

Approval not required—no conditions on action 94 2665

Action clearly unacceptable 0 9

Referrals lapsed 1 66

Referrals withdrawn after (controlled action) decision 11 313

Approval of actions

Action approved 55 854

Action not approved 0 11

Awaiting approval as at 30 June 2016 45 N/A

Awaiting further information from proponents 19 N/A

Notes: As at 30 June 2016, 66 referrals were still being processed. With the upgrade of environment assessment databases, differences in total figures may appear when compared to previous years as data integrity has been improved.

262 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Table 5.2: Decisions on EPBC Act referrals made in 2015-16, by jurisdiction

Decisions made in 2015-16

Action clearly unacceptable Approval required Approval not required Total decisions CA PM NCA

ACT 0 1 2 1 4

Commonwealth marine 0 0 3 1 4

NSW 0 21 9 10 40

Norfolk Island 0 0 0 1 1

NT 0 5 1 1 7

QLD 0 18 6 28 52

SA 0 1 1 6 8

TAS 0 0 0 2 2

VIC 0 9 4 15 28

WA 0 17 4 29 50

Total 0 72 30 94 196

Notes: CA = controlled action; PM = action to be taken in a particular manner; NCA = not controlled action. Total decisions includes three reconsiderations.

Table 5.3: Decisions on EPBC Act referrals made in 2015-16, by activity category

Decisions made in 2015-16

Action clearly unacceptable Approval required Approval not required Total decisions CA PM NCA

Aquaculture 0 1 0 0 1

Commercial development

0 12 1 15 28

Commonwealth 0 0 2 1 3

Commonwealth development

0 1 0 0 1

Energy generation and supply (non-renewable)

0 1 1 4 6

Energy generation and supply (renewable)

0 1 1 5 7

Exploration (mineral, oil and gas—marine)

0 0 2 0 2

Exploration (mineral, oil and gas—non-marine)

0 0 1 0 1

Mining 0 24 3 6 33

Natural resources management

0 2 0 4 6

Residential development

0 13 3 13 29

Science and research 0 0 1 2 3

Telecommunications 0 0 2 2 4

Tourism and recreation 0 3 0 4 7

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 263 262 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Decisions made in 2015-16

Action clearly unacceptable Approval required Approval not required Total decisions CA PM NCA

Transport—land 0 10 6 22 38

Transport—water 0 0 3 3 6

Waste management (non-sewerage)

0 1 2 2 5

Waste management (sewerage)

0 1 0 2 3

Water management and use

0 2 2 9 13

Total 0 72 30 94 196

Notes: CA = controlled action; PM = action to be taken in a particular manner; NCA = not controlled action. Total decisions includes three reconsiderations.

Table 5.4: Decisions on assessment approach made in 2015-16, by type

Assessments active Assessments completed

Assessments withdrawn Assessments lapsed

Total

decisions on assessment

Commonwealth assessments

Preliminary documentation

42 2 0 0 44

Public environment report

3 0 0 0 3

Referral information 0 0 0 0 0

Environmental impact statement

1 0 0 0 1

State/territory assessments

Bilateral assessment 18 1 0 0 19

Accredited process 0 0 0 0 0

Total 64 3 0 0 67

Table 5.5: Matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act considered in relation to impacts of proposed action, 2015-16

Matter protected Not controlled

action—particular manner

Controlled action

Division 1 Matters of national environmental significance

Section 12 World Heritage values of a World Heritage listed property

3 3

Section 15B National Heritage values of a National Heritage listed place 3 3

Section 16 Ecological character of a declared Ramsar wetland 3 2

Section 18 Listed threatened species or ecological community 24 70

Section 20 Listed migratory species 8 10

264 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Matter protected Not controlled

action—particular manner

Controlled action

Section 21 Nuclear activities with a significant impact on the environment

1 1

Section 23 Commonwealth marine environment 5 1

Section 24B Activities in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park 1 1

Section 24D Affects at least one water resource 0 6

Division 2

Section 26 Commonwealth land 2 2

Section 27B Activities involving Commonwealth Heritage listed places overseas 1 0

Section 28 Commonwealth or Commonwealth agency activity 3 1

Total 54 100

Note: This table refers to matters of national environmental significance considered in 2015-16 by section and decision. There is no relationship between the totals in this table and the number of referrals considered during 2015-16 because proposed actions may impact more than one matter of national environmental significance.

Access to biological resources and benefit sharing

Table 5.6: Applications received and permits granted for cetacean research or impacts under the EPBC Act, 2015-16

Section of EPBC Act Applications

received

Permits granted

Conditions varied or revoked

Suspended or cancelled

238(3)(a) cetacean conservation; or (b) incidental interference

5 5 2 permits had

conditions varied

0

238(3)(c) whale watching 0 0 0 0

Total 5 5 2 0

Protection of natural and cultural places and values

Table 5.7: Compliance and enforcement under the EPBC Act in terrestrial reserves during 2015-16

Compliance and enforcement actions Visitors Tour

operators Other commercial operators

EPBC Act and Regulations incidents detecteda 76 10 0

Verbal cautions issued 16 7 0

Warning notices issued 39 2 0

Infringement notices issuedb 23 1 0

Permit/approval suspensions/cancellations 0 0 0

Court actions commenced (criminal) 2 0 0

Court actions completed (criminal: successful) 2 0 0

Court actions ongoing at 30 June (criminal) 0 0 0

a Excludes notices of charges payable issued

b Multiple infringement notices may be issued for each reported incident

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 265 264 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Table 5.8: Compliance and enforcement under the EPBC Act in marine reserves during 2015-16

Compliance and enforcement actions Number

EPBC Act and Regulations incidents detecteda 128

Warnings notices issued 21

Infringement notices issued 10

Permit/approval suspensions/cancellations 0

Court actions commenced (31 criminal; 1 civil)b 32

Court actions completed (32 criminal: successful; 0 civil)c 32

Court actions ongoing at 30 June 2016 (2 criminal; 1 civil) 3

a Incidents detected refers to all incidents in marine reserves, including those where no enforcement actions were required.

b Large number of court actions reflects the prosecution of the masters and 28 crew of two Vietnamese fishing vessels for offences against section 354A(5) of the EPBC Act.

c Some court actions completed or ongoing as at 30 June 2016 began before 1 July 2015.

Protection of species and ecological communities

Table 5.9: Species and ecological communities listing outcomes under the EPBC Act, 2015-16

Species and ecological communities Status

Listings (scientific name or name of ecological community)

Eucalypt woodlands of the Western Australian wheatbelt Listed as critically endangered (4 ecological communities, 10 species)

Natural temperate grassland of the South Eastern Highlands

Southern Highlands shale forest and woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion

Warkworth Sands woodland of the Hunter Valley

Acacia leptoneura

Calidris tenuirostris

Callistemon megalongensis

Calochilus cupreus

Galaxias rostratus

Limosa lapponica menzbieri

Ordtrachia septentrionalis

Phyllurus gulbaru

Pterostylis psammophila

Thelymitra hygrophila

266 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Species and ecological communities Status

Amytornis dorotheae Listed as endangered

(13 species) Atriplex yeelirrie Calidris canutus

Charadrius mongolus

Dasyurus viverrinus

Eucalyptus macarthurii

Hipposideros inornatus

Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida

Petrogale coenensis

Petrogale concinna canescens

Petrogale concinna monastria

Stylidium ensatum

Veronica parnkalliana

Acanthiza iredalei rosinae Listed as vulnerable

(17 species) Antechinus bellus Antechinus minimus maritimus

Charadrius leschenaultii

Eucalyptus aggregata

Grantiella picta

Limosa lapponica baueri

Macroderma gigas

Mastacomys fuscus mordicus

Mirafra javanica melvillensis

Petauroides volans

Petrogale sharmani

Petrogale xanthopus celeris

Probosciger aterrimus macgillivrayi

Platycercus caledonicus brownii

Strepera fuliginosa colei

Zoothera lunulata halmaturina

Transferred species: uplistings

Anthochaera phrygia Transferred from endangered to

critically endangered (2 species) Lathamus discolor Malurus coronatus coronatus Transferred from vulnerable to

endangered

Oberonia attenuata Transferred from extinct to

critically endangered

Pedionomus torquatus Transferred from vulnerable to

critically endangered

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 267 266 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Species and ecological communities Status

Retained in the same category

Ptilotus pyramidatus Retained as critically endangered

Isoodon obesulus obesulus Retained as endangered

(2 species) Streblus pendulinus Erythrotriorchis radiatus Retained as vulnerable

(5 species) Falcunculus frontatus whitei Geophaps scripta scripta

Polytelis swainsoni

Turnix melanogaster

Deletions

Argyreia soutteri Deleted from extinct

(2 species) Diplocaulobium masonii Natural temperate grassland of the Southern Tablelands (NSW and ACT)

Deleted from endangered (1 ecological community, 8 species) Caladenia carnea var. subulata Centrolepis caespitosa

Corybas sp. Finniss (R. Bates 28794)

Epiblema grandiflorum var. cyaneum K.W. Dixon nom. inval.

Phaius tancarvilleae

Prasophyllum uroglossum

Rytidosperma popinensis

Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya

Bosistoa selwynii Deleted from vulnerable

(9 species) Cacatua pastinator pastinator Callitriche cyclocarpa

Carex paupera

Carex tasmanica

Egernia stokesii aethiops

Notoryctes caurinus

Notoryctes typhlops

Sarcochilus roseus

268 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Table 5.10: Number of nominations and changes to the lists of threatened species, ecological communities and key threatening processes under the EPBC Act in 2015-16

Species Ecological

communities Key threatening processes

Items on which the Threatened Species Scientific Committee has provided advice to the Ministera 72 5 0

Ministerial decisions made on Threatened Species Scientific Committee advice 72 5 0

Ministerial decisions pending Threatened Species Scientific Committee advice

0 0 0

Ministerial decisions made on Threatened Species Scientific Committee advice in the following categories:

Uplisted 5 0 N/A

Downlisted 0 0 N/A

New 40 4 0

Deleted 19 1 0

Amendments to the list 64 5 0

Rejected/ineligible 0 0 0

No change in status 8 0 0

a Includes assessments in progress from the 2014 and 2015 Finalised Priority Assessment List.

Table 5.11: EPBC Act listed threatened species and ecological communities covered by recovery plans, as at 30 June 2016

Species Ecological

communities

Total

Total number of listed threatened entities 1794 75 1869

Number of listed threatened entities covered by recovery plans in force 729 25 754

Number of listed threatened entities requiring recovery plans but not covered by a recovery plan in forcea 148 32 180

a The Minister determines whether listed threatened entities require a recovery plan. An approved conservation advice is required for listed threatened entities that do not require a recovery plan.

Table 5.12: Recovery plans made or adopted under the EPBC Act in 2015-16

Recovery plan Date made or adopted Listed threatened entities

covered

National Recovery Plan for the Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens ecological community

21 December 2015 Alpine Sphagnum Bogs and Associated Fens Ecological Community

White-bellied and Orange-bellied Frogs (Geocrinia alba and Geocrinia vitellina) Recovery Plan

21 August 2015 Geocrinia alba

Geocrinia vitellina

Blue Whale Conservation Management Plan 3 October 2015 Balaenoptera musculus

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 269 268 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Recovery plan Date made or adopted Listed threatened entities

covered

Sawfish and River Sharks Multispecies Recovery Plan 7 November 2015 Glyphis garricki Glyphis glyphis

Pristis clavata

Pristis pristis

Pristis zijsron

Recovery Plan for Three Handfish Species: Spotted Handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus), Red Handfish (Thymichthys politus), and Ziebell’s Handfish (Brachiopsilus ziebelli)

12 March 2016 Brachionichthys hirsutus

Thymichthys politus

Brachiopsilus ziebelli

National Recovery Plan for the Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) 4 May 2016 Anthochaera phrygia

National Recovery Plan for the Mallee Emu-Wren (Stipiturus mallee), Red-lored Whistler (Pachycephala rufogularis), Western Whipbird (Psophodes nigrogularis leucogaster)

6 May 2016 Stipiturus mallee

Pachycephala rufogularis

Psophodes nigrogularis leucogaster

National Recovery Plan for the Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) 6 May 2016 Neophema chrysogaster

National Recovery Plan for the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) 6 May 2016 Dasyurus maculatus gracilis

Dasyurus maculatus maculatus (south-east mainland population)

Dasyurus maculatus maculatus (Tasmanian population)

National Recovery Plan for the Plains-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) 28 June 2016 Pedionomus torquatus

Table 5.13: Key threatening processes and threat abatement plans listed under the EPBC Act

Key threatening process Date of effect Threat abatement

plan required?

Approved threat abatement plan

Aggressive exclusion of birds from potential woodland and forest habitat by over-abundant noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala)

9 May 2014 No N/A

Competition and land degradation by feral rabbits

16 July 2000 Yes Yes

Competition and land degradation by unmanaged goats 16 July 2000 Yes Yes

Dieback caused by the root-rot fungus Phytophthora cinnamoni 16 July 2000 Yes Yes

Incidental catch (bycatch) of sea turtles during coastal otter-trawling operations within Australian waters north of 28 degrees south

4 April 2001 No N/A

270 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Key threatening process Date of effect Threat abatement

plan required?

Approved threat abatement plan

Incidental catch (or bycatch) of seabirds during oceanic longline fishing operations

16 July 2000 Yes Yes

Infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis

23 July 2002 Yes Yes

Injury and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris

13 August 2003 Yes Yes

Invasion of northern Australia by gamba grass and other introduced grasses

16 September 2009 Yes Yes

Land clearance 4 April 2001 No N/A

Loss and degradation of native plant and animal habitat by invasion of escaped garden plants, including aquatic plants

8 January 2010 No N/A

Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem integrity following invasion by the yellow crazy ant (Anoplolepis gracilipes) on Christmas Island, Indian Oceana

12 April 2005 No N/A

Loss of terrestrial climatic habitat caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases

4 April 2001 No N/A

Novel biota and its impact on biodiversity 26 February 2013 No N/A

Predation by European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) 16 July 2000 Yes Yes

Predation by exotic rats on Australian offshore islands of less than 1000 km2 (100,000 ha)

29 March 2006 Yes Yes

Predation by feral cats 16 July 2000 Yes Yes

Predation, habitat degradation, competition and disease transmission by feral pigs

6 August 2001 Yes Part year; sunsetted

October 2015

Psittacine circoviral (beak and feather) disease affecting endangered psittacine species

4 April 2001 Yes Part year; sunsetted

October 2015

Agreed 3 February 2016 that plan no longer required

Biological effects, including lethal toxic ingestion, caused by cane toads (Bufo marinus)

12 April 2005 Yes Yes

Reduction in the biodiversity of Australian native fauna and flora due to red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)a

2 April 2003 Yes Yes

a Both of these key threatening processes are covered by the 2006 threat abatement plan The impacts of tramp ants on biodiversity in Australia and its territories.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 271 270 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Wildlife trade and management

Table 5.14: Wildlife seizure records issued by Australian authorities under the EPBC Act, 2015-16

Wildlife category Number of seizure records

Complimentary medicine 248

Reptile/amphibian 87

Mammal 64

Fish/clam/coral/invertebrate 53

Elephant products 24

Live plant 16

Bird 15

Live animal 15

Plant parts/products 10

Total seizures 532

Table 5.15: Top 10 species covered by EPBC Act wildlife import permits in 2015-16

Species Number of import permits issued

American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) 529

Reticulated python (Python reticulatus) 193

Burmese python (Python bivittatus) 156

Common water monitor (Varanus salvator) 145

Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) 126

Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) 96

Red blood python (Python brongersmai) 65

Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus) 46

Common caiman (Caiman crocodilus crocodilus) 32

Panama caiman (Caiman yacare) 31

Table 5.16: Top 10 species most often issued EPBC Act wildlife export permits in 2015-16

Species Number of export permits issued

Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) 112

American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) 88

Stony corals (order Scleractinia) 52

Corals (class Anthozoa) 52

Red kangaroo (Macropus rufus) 41

Fire corals (class Hydrozoa) 40

Eastern grey kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) 36

Reticulated python (Python reticulatus) 23

African elephant (Loxodonta africana) 22

Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) 20

272 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Fisheries assessment and approvals

Table 5.17: EPBC Act assessments of Commonwealth and state managed fisheries completed 2015-16

Jurisdiction Fishery Current

assessment decisions

Decision date

Commonwealth Small Pelagic Fishery WTO 26/10/2015

Commonwealth CCAMLR Division 58.4.1 and 58.4.2 Exempt (5 years) 24/12/2015

Commonwealth Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery WTO 22/02/2016

NSW Sea Urchin and Turban Shell Fishery WTO 30/11/2015

QLD Blue Swimmer Crab Fishery WTO 12/10/2015

QLD Mud Crab Fishery WTO 12/10/2015

QLD Commercial Crayfish and Rock Lobster Fishery Exempt (10 years) 13/11/2015

QLD East Coast Pearl Fishery Exempt (10 years) 13/11/2015

QLD East Coast Trochus Fishery Exempt (10 years) 13/11/2015

QLD Eel Fishery Exempt (10 years) 13/11/2015

QLD Spanner Crab Fishery Exempt (10 years) 13/11/2015

QLD River and Inshore Beam Trawl Fishery WTO 15/02/2016

QLD Schulz Fisheries Pty Ltd (deepsea prawns) WTO (small) 10/05/2016

SA Abalone Fishery Exempt (10 years) 27/11/2015

SA Blue Crab Fishery Exempt (10 years) 27/11/2015

SA Giant Crab Fishery Exempt (10 years) 27/11/2015

SA Prawn Trawl Fisheries Exempt (10 years) 27/11/2015

SA Rock Lobster Fishery Exempt (10 years) 27/11/2015

TAS Richey Pty Ltd (Australian salmon) WTO (small) 22/02/2016

VIC PQ Aquatics (seahorses) WTO (small) 15/12/2015

VIC Port Phillip Bay Scallop Dive Fishery Exempt (5 years) 11/12/2015

WA Abalone Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Abrolhos Islands and Mid-west Trawl Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Broome Prawn Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Aquarium Fish Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Exmouth Prawn Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Kimberley Prawn Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Mackerel Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Northern Demersal Scalefish Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Nickol Bay Prawn Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Onslow Prawn Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Pearl Oyster Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA South Coast Salmon Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 273 272 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Jurisdiction Fishery Current

assessment decisions

Decision date

WA South-west Coast Salmon Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Shark Bay Crab Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Shark Bay Prawn Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Shark Bay Scallop Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Specimen Shell Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Trochus Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA West Coast Deepsea Crustacean Fishery Exempt (10 years) 12/08/2015

WA Temperate Demersal Gillnet and Demersal

Longline Fisheries

WTO 30/08/2015

WA Tycraft Pty Ltd (giant clams) WTO (small) 27/04/2016

Note: WTO = wildlife trade operation; CCAMLR = Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

Meeting statutory time frames under section 518 of the EPBC Act

The EPBC Act and Regulations specify time frames within which decisions must be made and other actions completed. If the time frames are not met then, in accordance with section 518 of the EPBC Act, a statement must be provided setting out the reasons for the delay. Decisions that were not made within statutory time frames in 2015-16 and the reasons for delay are listed in Tables 5.18 and 5.19.

Table 5.18: EPBC Act referrals, assessments and approvals and their compliance with statutory time frames in 2015-16

Section of the EPBC Act Total Late Reasons for delay

75(5) Determination whether controlled action or not 196 149 Administrative delays Need for additional stakeholder

consultation and to consider all material

Need for legal advice/review

Further detailed information sought from proponent

Additional research required

Delay in getting enough information to make decision

77(1) Notification of determination whether controlled action or not 197 29 Administrative delays

77(4) Reasons for decision on whether controlled action or not 5 4 Administrative delays

88(1) Assessment approach decision 67 42 Administrative delays

Administrative error

Need for legal advice/review

88(2) Assessment approach decision and controlled action determination made on the same day

52 44 Administrative delays

Need for legal advice/review

274 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Section of the EPBC Act Total Late Reasons for delay

91(1) Notification of decision on assessment approach 73 13 Administrative delays

95A(2) Assessment on preliminary documentation—request for further information

29 18 Administrative delays

95A(3) Assessment on preliminary documentation—direction to publish 35 14 Administrative delays

95C(2) preliminary documentation recommendation report 28 0

96A(4)(a) Provide public environment report guidelines to designated proponent 1 0

96A(4)(b) Provide public environment report guidelines to designated proponent 1 0

100(2) Public environment report recommendation report

1 0

101A(4)(a) Provide environmental impact statement guidelines to designated proponent

1 0

101A(4)(b) Provide environmental impact statement guidelines to designated proponent

1 0

105(2) Environmental impact statement recommendation report 3 0

130(1B) Timing of decision on approval 55 41 Administrative delays

Need to seek additional information from proponent

145D(1) Decision whether or not to extend approval period 5 2 Administrative delays

156B(1) Decision whether or not to accept a varied proposal 31 11 Administrative delays

156E(1) Notification of person proposing and designated proponent whether or not varied proposal accepted

31 0

156E(2) Notification to state or territory minister to accept a varied proposal 12 0

156E(3) Notification of acceptance of a varied proposal in accordance with the Regulations 32 6 Administrative delays

156F(5) Publication of notification of change of person proposing to take action 9 5 Administrative delays

158(2) Decision whether or not to grant exemption from Part 3 and Chapter 4 1 0

158(7) Publication of notification whether to grant exemption from Part 3 and Chapter 4 1 1 Administrative delays

163(2) Providing advice 3 0

170A(b) Publication of information relating to assessments: receipt of referral of an action 209 0

170A(c) Publication of information relating to assessments: controlled action decisions 73 9 Administrative delays

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 275 274 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Section of the EPBC Act Total Late Reasons for delay

170A(d) Publication of information relating to assessments: decision on assessment approach

73 13 Administrative delays

170A(e) Publication of information relating to assessments: preliminary documentation information and invitations

65 28 Administrative delays

170A(h) Publication of information relating to assessments: reports or statements 8 5 Administrative delays

170A(ia) Publication of information relating to assessments: assessment on preliminary documentation, public environment report and environmental impact statement recommendation reports

36 30 Administrative delays

170A(j) Publication of information relating to assessments: other matters—decision to approve or not approve an action

55 8 Administrative delays

Table 5.19: Decisions made under other EPBC Act provisions that did not meet statutory time frames in 2015-16

Section Total Late Reasons for delay

266B(6) Approved conservation advices for listed threatened species 63 1 Delay in return of legislative instrument, which delayed ability to publish within

10-day period

303CI Time limit for making permit decisions—CITES 1786 4 1 Referral for advice to another agency 2 System errors

1 Legislative change

324JI Provision of (National Heritage) assessments to the Minister 1 1 Additional consultations required

341H Minister to invite (Commonwealth Heritage) nominations for each assessment period

1 1 No call for nominations

341JA(1) Preparing proposed priority assessment list (Commonwealth Heritage) 1 1 No call for nominations

341JH Provision of (Commonwealth Heritage) assessments to the Minister 1 1 Additional consultations

324JI Time by which (Commonwealth Heritage) assessments to be provided to Minister

1 1 Additional consultations

341J(1) Giving (Commonwealth Heritage) nominations to Australian Heritage Council 1 1 No call for nominations

341L(7) Publication of instrument of removal of places from Commonwealth Heritage List 1 1 Administrative oversight

276 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Appendix B: Committees

Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development

Table 5.20: Membership of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development as at 30 June 2016

Members

Dr Andrew Johnson (Chair)

Professor Craig Simmons

Ms Jane Coram

Emeritus Professor Peter G Flood

Dr Andrew Boulton

Dr Jenny Stauber

Dr Glen Walker

Dr Ian Prosser

Indigenous Advisory Committee

Table 5.21: Membership of the Indigenous Advisory Committee as at 30 June 2016

Members

Mr Bruce Martin (Acting Chair)

Mr Wayne See Kee

Ms Josie Douglas

Mr Robert Dalton

Ms Teagan Goolmeer

Mr Joseph Elu

Australian Heritage Council

Table 5.22: Membership of the Australian Heritage Council as at 30 June 2016

Members

Dr David Kemp (Chair)

Dr Jennie Whinam

Dr Stephen Morton

Mr Lyndon Ormond-Parker

Ms Rachel Perkins

Dr Jane Harrington

Associate Professor Don Garden

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 277 276 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Threatened Species Scientific Committee

Table 5.23: Membership of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee as at 30 June 2016

Members

Professor Helene Marsh (Chair)

Professor Stuart Bunn

Dr Hamish Campbell

Professor Kingsley Dixon

Ms Louise Gilfedder

Professor David Keith

Dr Dave Kendal

Dr Sarah Legge

Dr Nicola Mitchell

Professor Colin Simpfendorfer

278 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Appendix C: Publications 2015-16

Guidelines and policy statements

Draft referral guideline for 14 birds listed as migratory species under the EPBC Act

Draft EPBC Act referral guidelines for the vulnerable Tasmanian giant freshwater lobster, Astacopsis gouldi

EPBC Act referral guideline for the endangered northern quoll, Dasyurus hallucatus—EPBC Act policy statement

EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21—Industry guidelines for avoiding, assessing and mitigating impacts on EPBC Act listed migratory shorebird species

Referral guideline for management actions in grey-headed and spectacled flying-fox camps— EPBC Act policy statement

Referral guideline for the vulnerable water mouse, Xeromys myoides—EPBC Act policy statement

Guides

Central Hunter Valley eucalypt forest and woodland: a nationally protected ecological community

Natural temperate grassland of the South Eastern Highlands: a nationally protected ecological community

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 279 278 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Operation of the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997 Section 43 of the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997 requires the Minister to prepare an annual report on the operation of the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Account. This section meets this reporting requirement, with the exception of financial information. The Act requires the annual report to include financial statements relating to operations of the account and the Auditor-General’s report on the financial statements. This information is provided in Part 4, ‘Financial statements’, of this annual report (page 225).

Purpose

The Act established the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Account to conserve, repair and replenish Australia’s natural resources. The account is administered by the Natural Heritage Ministerial Board, which in 2015-16 comprised the former Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP and the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP.

Activities carried out under the Act are integral to achieving the Department’s purpose to conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s terrestrial and marine biodiversity, threatened species, ecosystems, environment and heritage. Additionally, these activities support and contribute to sustainable agriculture outcomes across our productive landscapes. Consequently some of these activities are reported under the ‘Sustainable management of natural resources’ activity in Part 2, ‘Annual performance statements’, page 21.

Operation

National Landcare Program

The Natural Heritage Trust is the principal funding stream supporting the Government’s National Landcare Program.

The National Landcare Program has four strategic objectives:

1. Communities are managing landscapes to sustain long-term economic and social benefits from their environment

2. Farmers and fishers are increasing their long-term returns through better management of the natural resource base

3. Communities are involved in caring for their environment

4. Communities are protecting species and natural assets.

The program is investing $1 billion over four years from 2014-15 to help communities take practical action towards improving their local environment. It is invigorating community engagement in the natural resource management (NRM) sector by giving community groups, including Landcare groups, a greater role in setting local and regional priorities that address environmental and sustainable agriculture issues.

The National Landcare Program comprises a regional and a national funding stream.

280 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Regional funding stream

Under the regional stream, the Natural Heritage Trust is funding Australia’s 56 regional NRM organisations. This funding recognises the important role NRM organisations have in delivering local and regional activities that protect the environment and deliver more sustainable agriculture.

One of the requirements of regional funding is that all regional NRM organisations invest at least 20 per cent of their annual Australian Government funding in on-ground projects that are delivered by, or directly engage, the local community. NRM organisations are investing more than $120 million in community NRM activities nationally to 2017-18. This includes direct funding for Indigenous NRM activities.

National funding stream

National funding supports initiatives that protect and restore the environment and make agriculture more sustainable and productive. These initiatives include the 20 Million Trees Program as well as continuing commitments such as World Heritage and Indigenous Protected Areas (administered by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet).

More information is on the program’s website.

www.nrm.gov.au/national-landcare-programme

Legislative amendments

The Omnibus Repeal Day (Autumn 2015) Bill 2015, which was introduced to the House of Representatives on 18 March 2015 and to the Senate on 12 October 2015, included technical amendments to the Act to abolish the Natural Heritage Trust Advisory Committee. The Bill passed on 4 May 2016 and received royal assent on 5 May 2016.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 281 280 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Operation of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 Section 71 of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 requires the Minister to prepare an annual report on the operation of the Act. This section meets this reporting requirement for 2015-16.

Purpose

The Act regulates the quality of fuels used in Australia to: reduce the level of pollutants and emissions arising from the use of fuel that may cause environmental and health problems, enable the adoption of better engine technology and emission control technology, and allow the more effective operation of engines.

The Fuel Quality Standards Regulations 2001 cover the regulation of fuel and fuel additives, the operation of the Fuel Standards Consultative Committee, the publication of notices about entries in the Register of Prohibited Fuel Additives, enforcement, record-keeping and reporting obligations. Further information is on the Department’s website.

www.environment.gov.au/protection/fuel-quality

Operation

The Act requires the fuel industry, including fuel suppliers, to supply fuel that meets strict environmental requirements in accordance with fuel quality standards. Fuel quality standards have been made for petrol, automotive diesel, biodiesel, ethanol E85 and autogas.

Statutory review

A statutory review of the Act was completed in April 2016. One of the findings of the review was that the Act has met its objectives. The review recommended that the Act be retained, with amendments. The review report is on the Department’s website.

www.environment.gov.au/protection/fuel-quality/legislation/review-2015

The Department is now undertaking a review of the legislative instruments (including fuel standards) made under the Act.

Compliance and enforcement

The Department conducts intelligence, monitoring, compliance and enforcement activities to detect and respond to non-compliance under the Act and Regulations.

Statistics from the past four years are provided in Table 5.24. During 2015-16 the Department engaged with 455 fuel suppliers. In the 83 instances where non-compliance was detected, we engaged with the non-compliant fuel suppliers and provided information, instruction and assistance to promote awareness of and compliance with the Act. In each instance, compliance was achieved without the need for litigation, injunctions or infringement notices.

282 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Table 5.24: Statistics on fuel sampling under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 1999, 2012-13 to 2015-16

Actions 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16

Compliance incident reports 247 243 238 223

Site visits 944 403 432 455

Number of compliant tests 2930 1270 1392 1596

Fuel quality breach 32 35 33 33

Ethanol labelling breach 41 11 22 21

Documentation requirements breacha 197 43 48 29

a The Act and Regulations require operators of service stations to keep and maintain records for two years, including delivery documentation, stock reconciliation and fuel-testing records in relation to the supply of fuel, at the premises where the fuel is supplied. Fuel suppliers must also provide documentation to the supply site within 72 hours of the delivery of fuel.

Financial information

The Department’s 2015-16 operating costs for administering the Act were $2,756,437, including staff salaries and allowances, consultancies, advertising and other related expenses.

Committees

Section 24 of the Act establishes the Fuel Standards Consultative Committee (see Table 5.25). The Minister must consult the committee on, or notify it of, various matters as required by the Act.

Table 5.25: Membership of the Fuel Standards Consultative Committee, 2015-16

Ex-officio offices Representing/position

Assistant Secretary, Assessments (NSW, ACT) and Fuel Branch, Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy Chair/Australian Government

Manager, Standards, Development and International Section, Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development

Australian Government

Assistant Secretary, Office of Health Protection, Commonwealth Department of Health Australian Government

Manager, Petroleum Statistics Measures, Resources Division, Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science Australian Government

Manager, Air Policy, New South Wales Environment Protection Authority New South Wales Government

Chief Scientist, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Sciences, Science Division Queensland Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation

Queensland Government

Manager, Air and Noise Branch, South Australian Environment Protection Authority South Australian Government

Air and Noise Policy Officer, Policy and Regulation, Environment Protection Authority Victoria Victorian Government

Assistant Manager, Environmental Quality and Construction, Environment and Workplace Protection, Access Canberra Australian Capital Territory Government

Air Specialist, Environment Division, Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment Tasmanian Government

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 283 282 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Ex-officio offices Representing/position

Transport Planning, Policy and Reform, Northern Territory Department of Transport Northern Territory Government

Senior Manager, Air Quality, Western Australian Department of Environment Regulation Western Australian Government

Deputy Executive Director, Australian Institute of Petroleum Fuel producers

Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand Non-government body with an interest in the protection of the environment

Technical Director, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries Car manufacturers

Council Member Representative, Truck Industry Council Truck manufacturers and diesel engine manufacturers

Director, Technical Services, Australian Automobile Association Consumers

Chief Executive Officer, Biofuels Association of Australia Inc Biofuel producers

284 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Operation of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 Section 61 of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 requires the Minister to prepare a report on the operation of the Act for each financial year. This section meets the reporting requirements for 2015-16.

The Department submitted an annual report on Australia’s implementation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal to the convention’s secretariat during 2015-16. The annual report is on the Basel Convention website.

www.basel.int/Countries/NationalReporting/BaselConventionNationalReports/tabid/4250/ Default.aspx

Purpose

The Act regulates the export, import and transit of hazardous waste to ensure that movements of hazardous waste are managed in an environmentally sound manner so that human and environmental health are protected from harmful impacts of the waste.

The Act gives effect to the Basel Convention and to agreements and arrangements of the kind mentioned in Article 11 of the Basel Convention.

Operation

The Act requires the import, export or transit of hazardous waste to be approved by the Minister or their delegate through a permitting system. A person who has one or more import proposals, export proposals or transit proposals in relation to hazardous waste may apply to the Minister for a permit authorising the import, export or transit of the waste. Issuing a hazardous waste permit is subject to the proposed movement being in accordance with the environmentally sound management of the waste.

In 2015-16, the Minister or his delegate granted 53 permits and refused two permits. Details of permit applications and decisions are published in the Australian Government Gazette and on the Department’s website.

www.legislation.gov.au/Browse/Results/ByPortfolio/Gazettes/InForce/Environment

www.environment.gov.au/protection/hazardous-waste/applying-permit

Compliance and enforcement

The Department continued to strengthen its compliance and enforcement activities and cooperated with the Australian Border Force to prevent illegal traffic in hazardous waste. The Australian Border Force screens high-risk export cargo to help the Department enforce the requirements of the Act.

In 2015-16, there were seven incidents of non-compliance with Australian hazardous waste legislation. These mostly related to the export of e-waste without a valid permit.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 285 284 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

As a result of the Department’s collaboration with freight forwarders on handling used electronic equipment, more exporters are taking active measures to be compliant with the requirements in relation to e-waste.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

One application for a review of a decision was made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This application was discontinued. Further information is under ‘External scrutiny’ in Part 3, ‘Management and accountability’, page 112 .

Financial information

In 2015-16, the Department collected $54,646 (GST exclusive) in permit application fees under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) (Fees) Regulations 1990.

Committees

Section 58E of the Act establishes the Hazardous Waste Technical Group. The Minister must consult this group on any proposed new regulations about the definition of hazardous waste and on evidentiary certificates issued under the Act.

The technical group was established but did not meet in 2015-16 (see Table 5.26).

Table 5.26: Membership of the Hazardous Waste Technical Group as at 30 June 2016

Members

Professor Paul Greenfield (Chairperson)

Dr Peter Di Marco

Mr John Hogan

Ms Diane Kovacs

Mr Stephen Moore

Dr Peter Nadebaum

Dr Neill Stacey

Dr Jennifer Stauber

286 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Operation of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 Section 68 of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 requires the Minister to prepare an annual report on the operation of the Act. This section meets this reporting requirement for 2015-16.

Purpose

The Act regulates the use of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases in Australia and gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Further information is on the Department’s website.

www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone

Broadly, the Act’s objectives are to:

› reduce the levels of production and use of ozone-depleting substances › provide controls on the manufacture, import, export and use of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases

› promote the responsible management of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases.

Further detail is on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone/legislation

Operation

Licensing

The Act provides for a licensing system for import, export and manufacture of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases and equipment containing such substances and gases, to enable Australia to meet its international obligations. The Act prohibits the import or manufacture of certain products (listed in Schedule 4 of the Act) that contain or use scheduled substances unless the Minister grants an exemption under section 40.

The Minister or their delegate may issue four types of licences. Descriptions of each licence type are on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/protection/ozone/licences

At 30 June 2016, there were 1086 licences active:

› 32 controlled substances licences › 1052 ozone depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gas equipment licences › two used substances licences › no essential use licences.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 287 286 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Imports

Australia is obliged under the Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-depleting substances. We are implementing accelerated phase-out through a licensing and quota system that will see Australia use 61 per cent less hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) than permitted under the Montreal Protocol to 2020. Australia’s import limit for HCFCs reduced from 10 ozone-depleting potential (ODP) tonnes a year in 2014 and 2015 to 2.5 ODP tonnes a year from 2016 to 2029. HCFC imports will be completely phased out from 2030.

In 2015, Australia imported 9.961 ODP tonnes of bulk HCFCs, which is significantly less than the quantity permitted under the Montreal Protocol (55 ODP tonnes). A further 0.24 ODP tonnes of HCFCs were imported in refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment and are accounted for in the country where the equipment was manufactured.

In 2015, Australia imported 536.416 ODP tonnes of methyl bromide, of which 17.850 ODP tonnes were imported for controlled uses (which is less than our Montreal Protocol limit of 17.856 ODP tonnes).

In 2015, Australia imported:

› 3938 carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) kilotonnes of bulk hydrofluorocarbons › 5.49 CO2-e kilotonnes of bulk perfluorocarbons (PFCs) › 225.28 CO2-e kilotonnes of bulk sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6). Australia imported a further 4659.82 CO2-e kilotonnes of hydrofluorocarbons, 285.68 CO 2-e kilotonnes of sulfur hexafluoride and 0.0219 CO 2-e kilotonnes of perfluorocarbons in equipment.

End-use regulations

The Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Regulations 1995 regulate the use of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases in the refrigeration, air-conditioning and fire protection industries and the uses of methyl bromide as a feedstock and as a fumigant for approved critical uses and quarantine and pre-shipment uses.

The Fire Protection Industry Permit Scheme is a competency-based permit scheme relating to handling and trading extinguishing agents and possession of halon. The Fire Protection Association Australia (FPAA) administers the scheme on behalf of the Australian Government. At 30 June 2016 there were 142 extinguishing agent trading authorisations, 1138 licences and 42 halon special permits under the scheme. Further information is on the association’s website.

www.fpaa.com.au

The Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Industry Permit Scheme is a competency-based permit scheme covering refrigerant handling and trading and equipment manufacturing. The Australian Refrigeration Council administers the scheme on behalf of the Australian Government. At 30 June 2016 the Australian Refrigeration Council had issued 17,650 refrigerant trading authorisations and 64,023 refrigerant handling licences. Further information is on the council’s website.

www.arctick.org

288 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Compliance and enforcement

The Department conducts compliance and enforcement activities under the Act relating to the manufacture, import and export of ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases, including equipment containing those substances. In cooperation with the Australian Border Force, we have a range of monitoring and inspection arrangements to deal with non-compliance with the Act (see Table 5.27).

Table 5.27: Compliance actions under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 in 2015-16

Compliance actions Total

Referrals 265

Site inspections 107

Investigations (import and domestic end use) 97

Compliance achieved (site visits, phone calls, other) 115

Other outcomes (targeted border controls, refusal of permits, no longer operating) 11

The Department promotes self-regulation and uses a range of administrative, civil and criminal sanctions to ensure the most appropriate response to breaches of the legislation. In some cases we may seek an injunction from the Federal Court.

End-use compliance activities have an educational focus. They include site visits and awareness campaigns for industry and registered training organisations. Potentially non-compliant companies and technicians are referred to the Department for appropriate monitoring and enforcement action.

Financial information

The Act provides for the collection of licence application fees at the levels set under the Regulations and import and manufacturing levies set under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Import Levy) Act 1995 and the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas (Manufacture Levy) Act 1995.

All revenue must be deposited in the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Special Account established by the Act. Revenue from licensing, from the cost recovery component of the import and manufacture levies and from the National Halon Bank is directed towards the cost of administration, phase-out programs for ozone-depleting substances, emission minimisation programs, management of the National Halon Bank, research relating to ozone-depleting substances and synthetic greenhouse gases and refunds.

Revenue received during 2015-16 from operation of the National Halon Bank and licence fees and levies is shown in Table 5.28.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 289 288 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Table 5.28: Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Special Account revenue, 2015-16

Activity Amount in 2015-16 ($)

Levies 1,083,566

Licence fees 2,643,000

National Halon Bank sales and services 548,488

Refrigeration feesa 9,430,303

Penalties 59,053

Fire protection feesb 202,667

Total 13,967,077

a The Australian Refrigeration Council administers the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry permit scheme and collects permit application fees on behalf of the Department.

b The Fire Protection Association Australia administers the fire protection industry permit scheme and collects permit application fees on behalf of the Department.

In 2015-16 the Department paid the ARC $4,613,896 (GST exclusive) for operating the Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Industry Permit Scheme and the FPAA $492,529.00 (GST exclusive) for administering the Fire Protection Industry Permit Scheme.

290 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Operation of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 Section 107 of the Product Stewardship Act 2011 requires the Minister to provide an annual report on the operation of the Act. This section meets this reporting requirement for 2015-16.

Purpose

The Act implements important elements of the National Waste Policy, which is Australia’s strategic framework for waste management and resource recovery. It provides a national framework to manage the environmental, health and safety impacts of products and the impacts associated with the disposal of products.

The objects of the Act are to:

› reduce the impact that products have on the environment throughout their lives › reduce the impact that substances contained in products have on the environment and on human health and safety throughout the lives of those products

› help Australia to meet its international obligations on those impacts › contribute to reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted, energy used and water consumed in connection with products and waste from products.

Operation

The Act provides for three levels of product stewardship: voluntary, co-regulatory and mandatory.

Voluntary product stewardship

Part 2 of the Act provides for voluntary product stewardship. Under the Act, organisations can voluntarily seek accreditation from the Government for product stewardship arrangements and request permission to use product stewardship logos.

No new voluntary product stewardship arrangements were accredited in 2015-16. The Department continued to work with the two existing approved arrangements: MobileMuster, administered by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association; and FluoroCycle, administered by the Lighting Council of Australia.

www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/national-waste-policy/product-stewardship/voluntary-product

Co-regulatory product stewardship

Part 3 of the Product Stewardship Act provides for co-regulatory product stewardship.

The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, set up by the Product Stewardship (Televisions and Computers) Regulations 2011, is the only co-regulatory scheme under the Act. The scheme sets industry-funded annual recycling targets for end-of-life televisions and computer products. Importers and manufacturers of these products fund collection and recycling through membership fees paid through industry-run co-regulatory arrangements. There are four co-regulatory arrangements approved by the Minister to provide services under the scheme. These arrangements are administered by the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform, E-Cycle Solutions, Electronics Product Stewardship Australasia and MRI PSO.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 291 290 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

The administrators of each of the four co-regulatory arrangements must ensure that the arrangements achieve the outcomes specified in the Act and Regulations. These include providing e-waste collection services to communities in metropolitan, regional and remote areas of Australia, meeting annual recycling targets and ensuring that at least 90 per cent of the materials derived from recycling e-waste are made available to be re-used in manufacturing new products.

Following an operational review of the scheme in 2014-15, amendments to the Regulations took effect on 1 July 2015 to increase recycling targets to meet stronger demand for recycling services and ensure stability and continuing capacity in the e-waste recycling industry. The effect of these amendments includes:

› raising the target for industry-funded recycling to 50 per cent of available e-waste for 2015-16 and adjusting the target trajectory for future years to reach 80 per cent in 2026-27, ensuring the scheme is better aligned with the community’s need for recycling services in the short to medium term

› making the scheme fairer for importers of televisions and computers by improving the accuracy of estimates of the amount of waste available for recycling each year

› changing product codes for televisions to become weight based rather than screen size based

› adding or removing other product codes to reflect changes in technology › changing conversion factors for specific product codes to better reflect current product weights, reducing costs to industry.

Further details are provided in a fact sheet on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/protection/national-waste-policy/publications/factsheet-national-television-and-computer-recycling-scheme-changes

Regulatory (mandatory) product stewardship

Part 4 of the Act provides for mandatory product stewardship, where both requirements and outcomes are prescribed in regulations. No schemes have been established under these provisions of the Act.

Annual product list

Section 108A of the Act requires that, each year, the Minister publish a list of classes of products proposed to be considered for some form of accreditation or regulation under the Act in the following year and the reason (or reasons) why the Minister is proposing to consider them. Publication of this annual product list gives the community and business certainty about products considered for coverage by the Act and provides the opportunity for them to contribute to analysis and development of options.

The Act requires that 12 months notice be given before a mandatory or co-regulatory approach is applied to a particular product, and the annual product list serves as this notice. In 2016 the Minister published the fourth annual product list. The list included plastic microbeads, electrical and electronic products, photovoltaic systems, batteries and plastic oil bottles. Paint, which had been included in the previous list, was removed due to the successful launch of PaintBack, an industry-led product stewardship scheme for paint, by the former Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, on 2 May 2016.

292 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Committees

Section 108B(1) of the Act established the Product Stewardship Advisory Group to advise the Minister on products that may be considered for some form of accreditation or regulation under the Act in the next financial year.

The Product Stewardship Advisory Group did not meet in 2015-16. The Australian Government has announced its intention to abolish the group, a change that will require amendments to the Act. The intention is that, after such amendments are made, the Minister will publish the annual product list and the Department will consult experts and industry.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 293 292 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Operation of the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000 Section 35 of the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000 requires the Minister to prepare an annual report about the operation of the product stewardship arrangements for oil (including the Act). This section meets this reporting requirement for 2015-16.

Purpose

The Act underpins the Product Stewardship for Oil Program. Its objects are to:

› develop a product stewardship arrangement for used oil › ensure the environmentally sustainable management, re-refining and re-use of used oil › support economic options for recycling used oil.

Operation

The program provides economic incentives for the environmentally sustainable management, re-refining and re-use of used oil. A levy on oil sales helps fund the cost of recycling used oil. The Department has policy responsibility for the program, but it is administered by the Australian Taxation Office. The Treasurer sets the levy rate under separate legislation.

On 1 July 2014, the Treasurer increased the product stewardship oil levy to 8.5 cents per litre of lubricant or equivalent oil. The levy applies to both domestically produced and imported oil. The levy is collected as an excise by the Australian Taxation Office and as customs duty by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Exported oil is not levied.

The Australian Taxation Office pays product stewardship benefits to recyclers as a volume-based incentive to encourage increased oil recycling. Benefits apply at different rates depending on the type of oil. The lowest are provided for burner fuels and the highest are provided for full recycling into as-new, re-refined base oil.

Product stewardship for oil levy

In 2015-16, the Australian Taxation Office and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection collected total revenue from the product stewardship for oil levy of $45,711,948, made up of $29,302,381 in excise paid on domestic production and $16,409,567 in customs duty on imported oils. This was a change of -13 per cent and -5.4 per cent respectively, from the previous year. An amount of $3,688,122 was paid back to clients in the form of drawbacks (for export) and refunds. The net revenue from the levy for 2015-16 was $42,023,826.

Product stewardship benefits

In 2015-16, the Australian Taxation Office paid $62,717,540 as product stewardship (oil) benefits to 27 recyclers, representing 275,311,684 litres of recycled oil. Table 5.29 shows benefit payments by category.

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Legislative reporting

Table 5.29: Product stewardship (oil) benefit payments paid to recyclers, by category, in 2015-16

Category Benefit rate

(cents/litre)

Benefit

payments ($)

Litres

1. Re-refined base oil (for use as a lubricant or a hydraulic or transformer oil) that meets the specified criteria

50 53,447,372 106,894,744

2. Other re-refined base oils (for example, chain bar oil)

10 76,249 762,489

3. Diesel fuels that comply with the Fuel Standard (Automotive Diesel) Determination 2001, as in force from time to time

7 0 0

4. Diesel extenders: (a) that are filtered, de-watered and de-mineralised (b) that, if combined with diesel fuels, would produce a combined fuel that complies with the determination mentioned in category 3

5 0 0

5. High-grade industrial burning oils (filtered, de-watered and de-mineralised) 5 7,147,165 142,943,296

6. Low-grade industrial burning oils (filtered and de-watered) 3 0 0

7. Industrial process oils and lubricants, including hydraulic and transformer oils (re-processed or filtered, but not re-refined)

0 0 0

8. Gazetted oil consumed in Australia for a gazetted use 8.5 2,046,754 24,711,155

Total volume of recycled oil (excludes category 8a) 275,311,684

Total benefit payments 62,717,540

a Benefits paid under category 8 do not contribute to the overall volume of recycled oil. Source: Australian Taxation Office, 2016.

Committees

Part 3 of the Act establishes the Oil Stewardship Advisory Council to advise the Minister about:

› product stewardship arrangements for oils › recovering and recycling used oil › regulations under section 10 (working out the amount of product stewardship benefits) › the state of the oil production and oil recycling industries

› other matters specified by the Minister.

The Act provides that the Minister appoints members to the council based on their knowledge and experience. The Minister must ensure that the council includes both a representative of the Commonwealth and a representative of the Commissioner of Taxation.

The Australian Government intends to amend the Act to abolish the council. The Department will consult experts and industry on oil product stewardship matters.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 295 294 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Operation of the Water Act 2007 The Water Act 2007 requires annual reports on the operation of specific parts of the Act. Section 114 of the Act requires the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to provide an annual report to the Minister on its operations during that year. This section meets this reporting requirement for 2015-6.

Purpose

The Department is responsible for administering Part 6 of the Act, which establishes the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder. The Act sets out the national legal framework for management of the Murray-Darling Basin’s water resources and for other matters of national interest in relation to water and water information. The Act, which commenced on 3 March 2008, implemented important reforms for water management in Australia. It:

› establishes the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and gives it the functions and powers, including enforcement powers, needed to ensure that Basin water resources are managed in an integrated and sustainable way

› requires the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to prepare the Murray-Darling Basin Plan—a strategic plan for the integrated and sustainable management of water resources in the Basin

› establishes the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to manage the Commonwealth environmental water holdings to protect and restore the environmental assets of the Basin, and outside the Basin where the Commonwealth holds water

› provides the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission with an important role in developing and enforcing the water charge and water market rules

› gives the Bureau of Meteorology additional water information functions.

Operation

Performance against Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Under Section 114(2)(a) of the Act, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder must provide particulars of achievements against the objectives of the environmental watering plan. This requirement is met through reporting on volumes of Commonwealth environmental water delivered against the Basin annual environmental watering priorities (outlined in Table 5.30). The total volume of Commonwealth environmental water delivered against the Basin annual environmental watering priorities in 2015-16 was 1049 GL.

Wherever possible, Commonwealth environmental water holdings are used to achieve multiple outcomes through contributing water to many environmental assets during each watering action. Because of this, the volume of Commonwealth environmental water delivered against the Basin annual environmental watering priorities appears greater in Table 5.30 than the total volume of 1049 GL that was released from water storages or allocated through supplementary announcements and unregulated flows.

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Table 5.30: Decisions made by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder on the use of Commonwealth environmental water in 2015-16

Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Decisions on and use of Commonwealth environmental water

Basin-wide flow variability and longitudinal connectivity: Provide flow variability and longitudinal connectivity within rivers to support refuge habitats

Over 1000 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered through the Murray-Darling Basin, providing flow variability and longitudinal connectivity within rivers to support refuge habitats. The 2015-16 watering events provided extensive connectivity within rivers, in particular through delivery of environmental flows in the River Murray, Edward-Wakool system, Lower Balonne, Lower Goulburn River, Lachlan River systems and Murrumbidgee anabranches such as the Yanco Creek system.

River Murray weir pool variation: Ensure a variable flow pattern and lateral connectivity through coordinated weir pool management in the River Murray from Euston to Blanchetown

13 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered for weir pool variation in the River Murray from Euston to Blanchetown, allowing for a variable flow pattern with a wetting and drying period. This helped reinstate natural ecological conditions to improve and maintain diverse vegetation and habitat to support fish and waterbird species.

5.2 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was contributed to weir pool manipulation at locks 8, 9 and 15, with flows into wetlands such as the Euston Lakes (Lock 15) and Wingillie Station (Lock 8). An additional 2.7 GL was contributed at Lock 7, including flows to Lindsay River and Mullaroo Creek. A further 5.1 GL was used to support weir pool raising at Locks 2 and 5 in South Australia, which benefited a large area of low-lying floodplain.

Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth: Improve water quality, fringing vegetation and native fish movement by varying the water levels in Lake Alexandrina and Albert to maintain flows into the Coorong and Murray Mouth

Over 700 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to contribute to improving water quality and native fish movement in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth.

Commonwealth environmental water delivered to the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth contributed to this priority by maintaining flows through the Coorong and Murray Mouth, preventing water quality decline by encroaching seawater and rising salinity levels.

Basin-wide in-stream and riparian vegetation: Maintain and where possible improve the condition of in-stream riparian vegetation, through in-channel freshes

Over 1000 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered into the Murray-Darling Basin to contribute to Basin-wide in-stream and riparian vegetation. Commonwealth environmental water was delivered into the major river channels of the Murray-Darling Basin to maintain and where possible improve the condition of in-stream riparian vegetation in coordination with the Living Murray Initiative, state environmental water, river operators, non-government organisations and local catchment management authorities.

Smaller scale watering actions targeting vegetation outcomes included Commonwealth environmental water delivered to Hobblers Lake; Talpee Creek; and Carrs, Capitts and Bunberoo creeks; and for weir pool level manipulation in the lower reaches of the River Murray. These watering actions contributed to improving the condition of both aquatic and riparian vegetation.

Significant vegetation responses were observed throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, including improved growth and health of in-stream aquatic vegetation (such as pondweed and milfoil) in the Yallakool-Wakool system, growth of Moira grass, water ribbons and water milfoil in Millewa Forest and general riparian vegetation health in the major river channels.

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Legislative reporting

Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Decisions on and use of Commonwealth environmental water

Mid-Murrumbidgee Wetlands: Improve the condition of wetland vegetation communities in the mid-Murrumbidgee wetlands

Up to 190 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was made available for a mid-Murrumbidgee reconnection event. This event did not proceed, due to continuing operational constraints.

1.4 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to Yarradda Lagoon using infrastructure to improve the condition of wetland vegetation communities in the mid-Murrumbidgee. Monitoring has indicated excellent vegetation responses including increased growth of species such as tall spike rush, wavy marshwort and swamp lily.

Macquarie Marshes: Maintain semi-permanent wetland vegetation in core refuge areas in the Macquarie Marshes

14.2 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered together with NSW environmental water to the Macquarie Marshes, targeting beneficial flows to native marsh vegetation such as water couch, typha, spike rush and some fringing river red gums.

Spring monitoring conducted in September and October observed over 100 bird species using wetland habitat in the Macquarie Marshes. This included important species such as the Australasian painted snipe in the Ramsar-listed Mole Marsh and the Australasian bittern in the South Marsh. Several frog species were also observed.

Moira grass: Maintain the condition and range of Moira grass in Barmah-Millewa Forest by supplementing a natural event and extending the duration of inundation

351.3 GL was delivered in the mid-Murray as part of the 2015-16 ‘whole of system’ watering event, in response to natural hydrological cues and coordinated with deliveries by other environmental water holders and operational deliveries for consumptive demands. A significant proportion of the flows were delivered above channel capacity downstream of Yarrawonga Weir, with Barmah-Millewa Forest regulators operated to direct most of the flows into Millewa Forest.

Monitoring within Barmah-Millewa Forest detected growth (with some flowering and seed set) of Moira grass. While that was a promising result, continuing constraints restricted the delivery of the large-scale Commonwealth environmental water volumes required to achieve extensive Moira grass outcomes and reverse the long-term trend of decline. Only around 20 per cent of forest could be inundated in 2015-16.

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Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Decisions on and use of Commonwealth environmental water

Basin-wide waterbird habitat and future population recovery: Improve the complexity and health of priority waterbird habitat to maintain species richness and aid future population recovery

Following delivery of 343.3 GL in the mid-Murray in response to natural hydrological cues, in conjunction with The Living Murray and operational deliveries, a colonial waterbird breeding event began in Reed Beds Swamp in Millewa Forest. The Commonwealth contributed a further 8 GL (along with contributions from The Living Murray and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage) to support this breeding event.

Monitoring observed successful breeding of over 1000 pairs of birds, including Australian white and straw-necked ibis, royal spoonbills, eastern great egrets, Australian darters and little pied cormorants. A significant proportion (up to about 20 per cent) of the entire population of Australasian bitterns (EPBC Act endangered) and little bitterns were found to be inhabiting and breeding in Barmah-Millewa Forest during and after the flow event.

Watering of the North Redbank system (25 GL) resulted in a positive waterbird response, including observations of state-listed blue billed duck at the site.

Watering of Hobblers Lake (5 GL) also resulted in a positive waterbird response, with blue billed and freckled duck observed at the site after watering. Hobblers Lake had previously dried completely in December 2015.

Watering of the Yanga National Park (10 GL) aimed at a waterbird breeding event was successful: fledgling and nesting of little pied cormorant, Australian darter and eastern great egret were observed at the Tarwillie Swamp site after the watering event. This watering action builds on a similar successful waterbird breeding event triggered in 2014-15 by Commonwealth and NSW environmental water.

Watering of the Nimmie-Caira floodways (15 GL) supported potential breeding of Australasian bitterns, which are listed as endangered under the EPBC Act.

9.6 GL was delivered to Nap Nap Swamp an important known waterbird wetland and rookery site adjacent to the Nimmie-Caira project area, which has been dry for a year.

Other in-channel and wetland Commonwealth environmental water deliveries supported waterbird outcomes across the Murray-Darling Basin by improving the complexity and health of riparian and wetland waterbird habitat and maintaining waterbird lifecycles.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 299 298 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Decisions on and use of Commonwealth environmental water

Basin-wide native fish habitat and movement: Maintain native fish populations by protecting and improving the condition of fish habitat and providing opportunities for movement

Over 1000 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to support Basin-wide native fish habitat and movement. Commonwealth environmental water delivered through the Murray-Darling Basin contributed to hydrological connectivity benefits for native fish species, including through providing opportunities for dispersal and facilitating the transfer of important nutrient and organic matter for fish lifecycles. Commonwealth environmental water made an important contribution to the filling and reconnection of refuge waterholes throughout the system.

There were demonstrated benefits from Commonwealth environmental water providing opportunities for fish movement. In the Lower Murray, pouched lampreys have been detected moving through the Murray Mouth as far upstream as Lock 11. The pouched lamprey has previously experienced increased restrictions to movement due to reduced flows through the Lower Lakes, Coorong and Murray Mouth.

Extensive fish movements, including species such as Murray cod and golden perch, were also detected in the Mullaroo Creek, where weir raising was used to push flows from the River Murray through Lindsay River and Mullaroo Creek, providing habitat for flow-dependent fish species.

Northern Basin fish refuges: Protect native fish populations and in-stream habitats, particularly drought refuges, in the Northern Basin

Over 60 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to contribute to the Northern Basin fish refuges at locations identified in the 2015-16 Basin annual environmental watering priorities. These locations include the Lachlan River system, Macquarie Marshes, the Lower Balonne floodplain system, the Gwydir River valley and wetlands and the Border Rivers.

8.7 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered to support Northern Basin fish refuges outside the listed locations (though still ecologically significant), including in the Barwon-Darling River system and the QLD Lower Warrego and Moonie rivers.

In particular, flows through the Mehi River and Carole Creek addressed critical conditions of ‘very low’ and ‘cease to flow’ in these streams, reconnecting pools and improving water quality conditions in refuge habitats for native fish and other aquatic fauna.

In the Lower Balonne, in-stream Commonwealth environmental water helped a small flow pulse reach the end of the Narran, Culgoa and Birrie rivers, refilling waterholes throughout those channels after 12 months with no flow.

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Basin annual environmental watering priorities

Decisions on and use of Commonwealth environmental water

Silver perch: Contribute to the long-term recovery of silver perch by maintaining key populations, supporting recruitment and facilitating movement and dispersal

Over 900 GL of Commonwealth environmental water was delivered in channel, contributing to the long-term recovery of silver perch through supporting recruitment and facilitating movement throughout the Murray-Darling Basin.

Commonwealth environmental water deliveries focused on the main locations for silver perch outcomes as outlined in the 2015-16 Basin annual environmental watering priorities, including the Edward-Wakool system, lower River Murray, mid-Murray, Goulburn River, Broken River, Ovens River and Lower Border Rivers.

Commonwealth environmental water delivery resulted in positive ecological responses for silver perch throughout the Murray-Darling Basin, contributing to the facilitation of movement. Monitoring of tag data showed that silver perch traversed through almost all locks of the River Murray. Monitoring in the Edward-Wakool system indicated a tenfold increase in silver perch recruitment compared to 2014-15.

During delivery of 343.3 GL in the mid-Murray in response to natural hydrological cues, in conjunction with The Living Murray and operational deliveries, silver perch were detected spawning in late October following several months of water delivery, including over-bank flows into Barmah-Millewa Forest. Following completion of environmental water delivery, silver perch continued to spawn in early November as operational flows were delivered at a variable rate close to channel capacity.

Amendments to Part 6 of the Water Act 2007

The Act was amended on 2 May 2016, implementing recommendations of the 2014 Independent Review of the Act. Changes to Part 6 of the Act, which is administered by the Environment portfolio, relate to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s trade and reporting provisions.

The amendments increase the flexibility of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to sell Commonwealth environmental water allocations and use the proceeds for environmental activities that will improve the capacity of the water holdings to meet the objectives of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s environmental watering plan. The amendments also require the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder to report annually on disposals of Commonwealth environmental water holdings and the use of disposal proceeds during the year.

Trade

In October 2015, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder disposed of (sold) water allocations in the Goulburn catchment in Victoria. The tender for the sale was announced on 23 October and was open from 26-28 October 2015.

As a result of the tender, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder completed 44 trades, resulting in the sale of 22,864 ML of Commonwealth environmental water allocation for a return of $6,457,669.

The proceeds of past disposals of water by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder must only be used in accordance with section 106 of the Act. No proceeds of disposals of water or Commonwealth environmental water holdings were used during the 2015-16 financial year.

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Legislative reporting

Management of the Environmental Water Holdings Special Account

The Environmental Water Holdings Special Account was established under the Act for the payment of costs, expenses and other obligations incurred in managing Commonwealth environmental water holdings.

At the start of 2015-16, the special account balance was $58.6 million. Funding of $25.9 million was credited to the account in September 2015. During 2015-16, $16.5 million was spent on annual water entitlement fees and allocation delivery costs (including use fees and pumping). This accounted for about 76 per cent of total expenditure for the year.

As at 30 June 2016, the special account balance was $69.4 million. Of this, $18.1 million is committed for long-term intervention monitoring and evaluation activities, environmental watering actions and other projects. The uncommitted balance of $51.2 million includes $9.7 million in proceeds from the disposal (sale) of water allocations through the Goulburn trade ($6,457,669) in 2015-16 and the Gwydir and Peel trades ($3,249,930) in 2013-14. A portion of these uncommitted funds will be used for the payment of costs, expenses and other obligations incurred in managing Commonwealth environmental water holdings during 2016-17, with the proceeds of trade set aside to be used in accordance with section 106 of the Act.

The main categories of expenditure in 2015-16 are shown in Table 5.31.

Table 5.31: Environmental Water Holdings Special Account expenditure, 2015-16

Category of expense Total costs ($ million)

Fees and charges for entitlement holdings and allocation deliverya 16.518

Monitoring and evaluation 4.739

Development and maintenance of environmental registers and water accounting systems

0.009

Grants 0.070

Hydrological modelling services 0.192

Water market analysis 0.033

Development of environmental water delivery strategies 0.043

Total b 21.604

a Fees and charges include $12.9 million for annual water entitlement fees and $2.6 million for allocation use fees paid to state water authorities for the operation, maintenance and replacement of rural water infrastructure and $0.9 million for allocation pumping costs.

b Total may be ± 0.001 due to rounding.

Directions given to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder

No directions were given to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder in 2015-16 by the Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary or the Secretary of the Department.

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Operation of the Register of Environmental Organisations

Purpose

The Register of Environmental Organisations is a Commonwealth tax deductibility scheme for environmental organisations under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. It allows eligible organisations to be endorsed as deductible gift recipients by the Australian Taxation Office. Donations made to organisations that are deductible gift recipients will be tax deductible for the donor.

The Act requires the Department to maintain the register and to add or remove environmental organisations and their public funds by joint direction of the Minister for the Environment and Energy and the Assistant Treasurer. Further information is on our website.

www.environment.gov.au/about-us/business/tax/register-environmental-organisations

Operation

To be entered on the register, organisations must have a principal purpose of either:

› the protection and enhancement of the natural environment or of a significant aspect of the natural environment

› the provision of information or education, or the carrying on of research, about the natural environment or a significant aspect of the natural environment.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment tabled the report of its inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations on 4 May 2016 (see ‘External scrutiny’ in Part 3, ‘Management and accountability’, page 120).

During 2015-16, the former Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP and the former Assistant Treasurer, the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, approved the entry of 36 organisations and their public funds on the register and removed 16 organisations and their public funds from the register. As at 30 June 2016, the register contained 615 environmental organisations.

Registered environmental organisations reported receiving about $147 million in donations in 2014-15. Information for 2015-16 is currently being provided to the Department by organisations.

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Legislative reporting

Operation of the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 Section 36 of the Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers Region) Act 1978 requires the Supervising Scientist to provide to the Minister an annual report on the operation of the Act. This section meets the reporting requirements for 2015-16.

Purpose

The position of the Supervising Scientist was established by the Act in response to a recommendation of the second and final Fox Commission report in May 1977. The position was established for the protection of the environment of the Alligator Rivers Region from the potential environmental effects of uranium mining activities. Under section 5 of the Act, the Supervising Scientist has six main functions:

› develop and manage programs to research the effects of uranium mining operations within the Alligator Rivers Region and for the collection and assessment of related information

› develop standards, practices and procedures that will protect the environment and people from the effects of uranium mining within the Alligator Rivers Region

› develop measures for the protection and restoration of the environment › coordinate and supervise the implementation of requirements made under laws applicable to environmental aspects of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region

› provide the Minister with scientific and technical advice on mining in the Alligator Rivers Region

› on request, provide the Minister with scientific and technical advice on environmental matters elsewhere in Australia.

Operation

The role of the Supervising Scientist is held by the First Assistant Secretary of the Science Division within the Department of the Environment and Energy.

The Supervising Scientist Branch in the Science Division is funded under the portfolio’s departmental output and appropriation and contributes to the delivery of Outcome 1:

Conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s biodiversity, ecosystems, environment and heritage through research, information management, supporting natural resource management, establishing and managing Commonwealth protected areas, and reducing and regulating the use of pollutants and hazardous substances.

The obligations of the Supervising Scientist under the Act help to achieve this objective by ensuring that:

› the concentration of uranium in surface waters downstream of the Ranger Mine remains less than 2.8 micrograms per litre

› annual research and monitoring programs are scientifically rigorous, appropriately focused on the most important knowledge needs and independently endorsed by the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee.

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Legislative reporting

Ministerial directions

Under section 7 of the Act the Supervising Scientist is required to comply with any directions given to them by the Minister relating to the performance of their functions or the exercise of their powers.

In 2015-16 the Minister did not issue the Supervising Scientist any directions under section 7 of the Act.

Collection and assessment of information

In accordance with section 36(2)(b)(i) of the Act, the collection and assessment of information relating to the effects on the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region of mining operations in the region for the 2015-16 financial year are set out below.

The Supervising Scientist Branch uses a structured program of audits and inspections, in conjunction with the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy, the Northern Land Council and the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, to supervise uranium mining operations in the Alligator Rivers Region. The outcomes of these supervisory activities are considered by the Supervising Scientist Branch, together with environmental monitoring data and other information, to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of environmental management at uranium mining and exploration sites.

The outcomes of the Supervising Scientist’s monitoring, supervision and research programs demonstrate that the environment of the Alligator Rivers Region, including the World Heritage values of Kakadu National Park, remained protected from the effects of uranium mining during 2015-16.

Concentrations of uranium in surface waters downstream of the Ranger Mine remained well below the limit of 2.8 micrograms per litre during 2015-16 and the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee endorsed the research program as both rigorous and appropriately targeted.

Supervision

The Supervising Scientist Branch uses a structured program of audits and inspections, in conjunction with the regulatory authority and other important stakeholders, to oversee uranium mining operations in the Alligator Rivers Region. Activities by the Supervising Scientist Branch during the 2015-16 reporting period are summarised in Table 5.32.

Table 5.32: Summary of supervision activities of the Supervising Scientist Branch at five sites in the Alligator Rivers Region, 2015-16

Activity Ranger Jabiluka Nabarlek

South Alligator Valley West Arnhem exploration

Meetings of the Mine Technical Committee

7 7 1 N/A N/A

Applications assessed 11

Routine reports/plans assessed

20 4 2 1

Authorisation amendments assessed 0a

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Legislative reporting

Activity Ranger Jabiluka Nabarlek

South Alligator Valley West Arnhem exploration

Environmental audits 1 1 1 1 4

Routine inspections 11 2 2

Incidents reported 15 1

Incidents investigated 2

a Revised Ranger Mine Water Quality Objectives issued in accordance with section 7.1.1 of the Ranger Authorisation.

The information in Table 5.32 represents the program of supervision, audit and assessment activities by the Supervising Scientist Branch in five main areas of the Alligator Rivers Region. Ranger is currently the only operational uranium mine in the region. Mining at Ranger ended in 2012 but processing of stockpiled ore continues. Mining ended at Jabiluka in 1999 and the site is in long-term care and maintenance. Operations at Nabarlek ended in 1988. The site has been substantially decommissioned and rehabilitation is in progress. Rehabilitation of a number of former uranium mines in the South Alligator Valley that operated during the 1950s and 1960s was funded by the Australian Government and completed in 2009. The Supervising Scientist Branch performs yearly audits of the exploration mining companies operating in the West Arnhem area of the Alligator Rivers Region.

Monitoring

The Supervising Scientist Branch conducts independent monitoring programs, including monitoring chemical and biological indicators to assess environmental impacts of mining at Ranger uranium mine. The Supervising Scientist takes a risk and evidence-based approach to prioritise its monitoring activities.

A total of 10 monitoring programs were undertaken in 2015-16, with the following changes from previous years:

› Atmospheric radiological monitoring stopped, as evidence from 16 years of monitoring data showed that the airborne pathway does not pose a risk to public health or the environment

› Surface water quality monitoring at Jabiluka stopped, as Jabiluka is now substantially remediated and poses a low risk to the surrounding environment.

The combined monitoring program demonstrated that the environment remained protected from the effects of uranium mining throughout the 2015-16 wet season.

More detail on the activities of Supervising Scientist Branch during 2015-16, including supervision and monitoring outcomes, will be in the Supervising Scientist Annual Technical Report which will be available at the end of 2016.

www.environment.gov.au/science/supervising-scientist/publications

Environmental research

The Supervising Scientist Branch’s annual research program for 2015-16 comprised 34 research projects. Most of these addressed issues associated with the operational phase and/or the proposed rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation phases of Ranger uranium mine. Research was aggregated in five programs: hydrologic, geomorphic and chemical processes; aquatic ecosystems protection; revegetation and landscape ecology; ecotoxicology; and environmental radioactivity (see Figure 5.1).

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The proposed research program for 2015-16 had a full relevance and priority assessment to ensure it was appropriately aligned with the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee’s most important knowledge needs. The committee endorsed the program in May 2015. Eight research projects were completed during the year, with the remainder continuing into 2016-17. Approximately 25 peer-reviewed publications, three Supervising Scientist reports and five internal reports were produced from the research program.

Figure 5.1: Research projects of the Supervising Scientist Branch, 2015-16

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Cross-institute RLE HGCP

Research program

EnRad Ecotox AEP

Number of projects for 2015-16

Continuing in 2016-17

Completed

New

Total

Note: AEP = aquatic ecosystems protection; Ecotox = ecotoxicology; EnRad = environmental radioactivity; HGCP = hydrologic, geomorphic and chemical processes; RLE = revegetation and landscape ecology.

Further detail about the research program and outcomes in 2015-16 will be published in the Supervising Scientist Annual Technical Report at the end of 2016.

www.environment.gov.au/science/supervising-scientist/publications

Standards, practices and procedures

In accordance with section 36(2)(b)(ii) of the Act, standards, practices, and procedures implemented in 2015-16 include:

› significant progress on the development of Ranger closure criteria, with eight meetings of the Technical Working Groups and four meetings of the Closure Criteria Working Group. In accordance with regulatory requirements, the development of closure criteria for mine sites is the responsibility of the mine operator, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. Final approval of closure criteria for Ranger uranium mine rests with the Commonwealth Minister for Resources. Under existing approvals, operations at Ranger must end by January 2021 and rehabilitation works must be complete by January 2026

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Legislative reporting

› implementation of revised water quality objectives for Magela and Gulungul creeks, including uranium, magnesium, manganese, ammonia, radium and turbidity

› improved biological toxicity testing methods for green algae, Chlorella sp.; duckweed, Lemna aequinoctialis; and northern trout gudgeon, Mogurnda mogurnda

› implementation of a developmental stage remote videography method for monitoring fish communities in channel billabongs as a replacement technique for visual counts, which significantly reduces work health and safety risks associated with working in crocodile-inhabited waters

› improved radioanalytical methods for measuring lead-210 in environmental samples using liquid scintillation counting, resulting in quicker turnaround times and alleviating the need for complex separation chemistry

› implementation of new data analysis tools for calculating radionuclide uptake factors in bush foods and estimating ingestion doses to traditional owners post rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine.

Protection and restoration measures

In accordance with section 36(2)(b)(iii) of the Act, the protection and restoration measures implemented in 2015-16 include:

› successful completion of the annual routine water quality and biological monitoring programs

› additional intensive water quality sampling in the Gulungul Creek catchment to monitor and understand mine site inputs of contaminants.

Activities at Ranger mine as a result of major environmental investigations by the Supervising Scientist Branch include:

› a clay lined cut-off trench and seven groundwater extraction bores installed to capture and divert contaminated surface water and groundwater emanating from the western side of the tailings storage facility

› significant improvements to the fire management system of the mine company, Energy Resources of Australia, after deficiencies were identified in relation to a significant uncontrolled fire that affected Kakadu National Park. The new measures will ensure better protection of the environment surrounding Ranger mine.

Requirements of prescribed instruments enacted, made, adopted or issued

In accordance with section 36(2)(b)(iv) of the Act, prescribed instruments enacted, made, adopted or issued during the 2015-16 financial year were as follows:

› The Supervising Scientist Branch issued revised water quality standards for the Ranger uranium mine.

› In accordance with those revised standards, the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy revised the water quality objectives for Ranger uranium mine.

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Implementation of requirements

In accordance with section 36(2)(b)(v) of the Act, the requirements issued during 2015-16 were implemented as follows.

Based on the advice of the Supervising Scientist, the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy issued revised Ranger Mine Water Quality Objectives on 7 March 2016 in accordance with Schedule 7.1.1 of Ranger Authorisation 108-17, which states:

The operator of the mine shall comply with the requirements of the Ranger Mine Water Quality Objectives as approved by the Director in accordance with the advice of the Supervising Scientist.

Statement of costs for the Supervising Scientist Branch

The Supervising Scientist Branch budgets for 2014-15 and 2015-16 are shown in Table 5.33.

Table 5.33: Supervising Scientist Branch budget for 2014-15 and 2015-16

2014-15 2015-16

$9,284,358 $8,501,854

The budget comprises operating costs for the Supervising Scientist Branch, including property and operations at the Darwin office and Jabiru field station.

During 2015-16, total staffing numbers for the Supervising Scientist Branch reduced by 13 per cent from the previous year, from 46.3 to 40 (see Table 5.34).

Table 5.34: Supervising Scientist Branch staffing numbers for 2014-15 and 2015-16

Actual full-time equivalent at June 2015 and June 2016

Location 2014-15 2015-16

Darwin 38.3 32.0

Jabiru 7.0 5.0

Canberra 1.0 3.0

Total 46.3 40.0

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Legislative reporting

310 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Legislative reporting

Solar array at Lajamanu, Northern Territory (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

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Appendices

Appendices

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Appendices

Appendix 1: Statement of certification with PGPA Rule section 10 (Fraud systems)

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Appendices

Appendix 2: Entity Resource Statement 2015-16

Actual available

appropriation for 2015-16

Payments made 2015-16

Balance remaining 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

(a) (b) (a) - (b)

Ordinary annual servicesa

Departmental appropriationb 509,165 444,715 64,450

Payments to corporate entitiesc 40,470 40,470 -

Total 549,635 485,185 64,450

Administered expenses

Outcome 1: Clean Land 443,070 425,375

Outcome 2: Clean Air 188,769 4,955

Outcome 4: Clean Water 45,728 45,121

Total 677,567 475,451

Total ordinary annual services A 1,227,202 960,636

Other servicesd

Administered expenses

Specific payments to States, ACT, NT and Local Government

Outcome 1: Clean Land

Outcome 4: Clean Water

Total - -

Departmental non-operating

Equity injections 98,686 96,460 2,226

Total 98,686 96,460 2,226

Administered non-operating

Administered Assets and Liabilities 104,232 27,482

Total 104,232 27,482

Total other services B 202,918 123,942

Total available annual appropriations and payments 1,430,120 1,084,578

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Appendices

Actual available

appropriation for 2015-16

Payments made 2015-16

Balance remaining 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

Special appropriations

Special appropriations limited by criteria/ entitlement

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 - s77 174

Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 - s69AD 3,377

Special appropriations limited by amount

Water Act 2007 - s86AG 40,000

Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011 - s66 Appropriation 100,049

Total special appropriations C 143,600

Special accountse

Opening balance 496,454

Appropriation receiptsf 309,442

Non-appropriation receipts to special accounts 83,836

Restructuring transfers in 4,919,000

Payments made 281,685

Restructuring transfers out 55,304

Total special account D 5,808,732 336,989 5,471,743

Total resourcing and payments (A+B+C+D) 7,238,852 1,565,167

Less appropriations drawn from annual or special appropriations above and credited to special accounts (309,442)

and payments to corporate entities through annual appropriations (40,470)

Total net resourcing and payments for Department of the Environment and Energy 6,888,940 1,565,167 a Appropriation Act (No.1) 2015-16 and Appropriation Act (No.3) 2015-16. This also includes prior year departmental appropriation and section 74 retained revenue receipts.

b Includes an amount of $25.112m in 2015-16 for the Departmental Capital Budget. For accounting purposes this amount has been designated as ‘contributions by owners’.

c As per the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 section 514S, the Department of the Environment and Energy is directly appropriated the Director of National Parks’ (DNP) appropriations, which is then allocated to DNP by the Secretary.

d Appropriation Act (No.2) 2015-16 and Appropriation Act (No.4) 2015-16.

e Does not include ‘Special Public Money’ held in accounts like Services for Other Entities and Trust Moneys Special accounts.

f Appropriation receipts from the Department of the Environment and Energy’s annual and special appropriations for 2015-16 included above.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 315 314 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Appendix 3: Expenses for Outcomes

Expenses for Outcome 1

Outcome 1: Conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s biodiversity, ecosystems, environment and heritage through research, information management, supporting natural resource management, establishing and managing Commonwealth protected areas, and reducing and regulating the use of pollutants and hazardous substances.

Budgeta Actual

Expenses Variation

2015-16 2015-16 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

(a) (b) (a)-(b)

Program 1.1: Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Environment

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 104,417 104,082 335

Special accounts 244,792 241,189 3,603

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year - 131 (131)

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 43,984 51,112 (7,128)

Payments to corporate entities 40,470 41,145 (675)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 4,967 2,268 2,699

Total for Program 1.1 89,421 94,525 (5,104)

Program 1.2: Environmental Information and Research

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 29,284 29,284 -

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 6,748 8,181 (1,433)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 518 321 197

Total for Program 1.2 36,550 37,786 (1,236)

Program 1.3: Land Sector Initiatives

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 58,210 57,742 468

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 6,417 2,424 3,993

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 393 209 184

Total for Program 1.3 65,020 60,375 4,645

316 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Expenses for Outcome 1

Outcome 1: Conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s biodiversity, ecosystems, environment and heritage through research, information management, supporting natural resource management, establishing and managing Commonwealth protected areas, and reducing and regulating the use of pollutants and hazardous substances.

Budgeta Actual

Expenses Variation

2015-16 2015-16 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

Program 1.4: Conservation of Australia’s Heritage and Environment

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 7,124 6,832 292

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 29,640 31,909 (2,269)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 6,472 3,017 3,455

Total for Program 1.4 43,236 41,758 1,478

Program 1.5: Environmental Regulation

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 433 100 333

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 55,507 54,625 882

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 3,230 3,053 177

Total for Program 1.5 59,170 57,778 1,392

Program 1.6: Management of Hazardous Wastes, Substances and Pollutants

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 100 237 (137)

Special appropriations 4,000 3,010 990

Special accounts 14,310 13,538 772

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 56 419 (363)

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 46,285 45,384 901

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 2,096 1,437 659

Total for Program 1.6 66,847 64,025 2,822

Program 1.7: Cities and the Built Environmentc

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 2,611 2,611 -

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 36 (36)

Total for Program 1.7 2,611 2,647 (36)

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 317 316 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Expenses for Outcome 1

Outcome 1: Conserve, protect and sustainably manage Australia’s biodiversity, ecosystems, environment and heritage through research, information management, supporting natural resource management, establishing and managing Commonwealth protected areas, and reducing and regulating the use of pollutants and hazardous substances.

Budgeta Actual

Expenses Variation

2015-16 2015-16 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

Outcome 1 totals by appropriation type

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 199,568 198,277 1,291

Special appropriations 4,000 3,010 990

Special accounts 259,102 254,727 4,375

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 56 550 (494)

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 191,192 196,246 (5,054)

Payments to corporate entities 40,470 41,145 (675)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 17,676 10,341 7,335

Total expenses for Outcome 1 712,064 704,296 7,768

2014-15 2015-16

Average staffing level (number) 1,039 1,028

a Full year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2015-16 Budget at Additional Estimates.

b Departmental appropriation combines ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) and retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

c The Administrative Arrangements Orders made on 18 February 2016, transferred the responsibility for this program function to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

318 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Expenses for Outcome 2

Outcome 2: Reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change and contribute to the negotiation of an effective global solution to climate change, through developing and implementing a national response to climate change.

Budgeta Actual

Expenses Variation

2015-16 2015-16 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

(a) (b) (a)-(b)

Program 2.1: Reducing Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 2,097 1,719 378

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 39,760 42,466 (2,706)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 8,983 9,588 (605)

Total expenses for Program 2.1 50,840 53,773 (2,933)

Program 2.2: Adapting to Climate Change

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 4,492 4,492 -

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 2,038 2,502 (464)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 5 105 (100)

Total for Program 2.2 6,535 7,099 (564)

Program 2.3: Renewable Energy Technology Developmentc

Administered expenses

Payments to corporate entities 153,942 100,049 53,893d

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 4,688 5,986 (1,298)

Total for Program 2.3 158,630 106,035 52,595

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 319 318 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Expenses for Outcome 2

Outcome 2: Reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change and contribute to the negotiation of an effective global solution to climate change, through developing and implementing a national response to climate change.

Budgeta Actual

Expenses Variation

2015-16 2015-16 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

(a) (b) (a)-(b)

Outcome 2 totals by appropriation type

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 6,589 6,211 378

Payments to corporate entities 153,942 100,049 53,893d

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 46,486 50,954 (4,468)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 8,988 9,693 (705)

Total expenses for Outcome 2 216,005 166,907 49,098

2014-15 2015-16

Average staffing level (number) 202 245

a Full year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2015-16 Budget at Additional Estimates.

b Departmental appropriation combines ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) and retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

c The Administrative Arrangements Orders made on 21 September 2015 transferred to the Department the responsibility for: (a) Renewable Energy Technology Development function and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, and (b) the Clean Energy Finance Corporation from the Treasury portfolio.

d The variance relates to the nature of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s projects. Due to the complex nature of projects, which deal with emerging and developing technologies, there are regular project variations. The actual events on annual basis will sometimes be significantly different to the budget projections.

320 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Expenses for Outcome 3

Outcome 3: Advancement of Australia’s strategic, scientific, environmental and economic interests in the Antarctic region by protecting, administering and researching the region.

Budgeta Actual

Expenses Variation

2015-16 2015-16 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

(a) (b) (a)-(b)

Program 3.1: Antarctica: Science, Policy and Presence

Administered expenses

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 12 12 -

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 109,935 110,941 (1,006)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 54,298 59,546 (5,248)

Total for Program 3.1 164,245 170,499 (6,254)

Outcome 3 totals by appropriation type

Administered expenses

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 12 12 -

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationb 109,935 110,941 (1,006)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 54,298 59,546 (5,248)

Total expenses for Outcome 3 164,245 170,499 (6,254)

2014-15 2015-16

Average staffing level (number) 370 374

a Full year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2015-16 Budget at Additional Estimates.

b Departmental appropriation combines ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) and retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 321 320 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Expenses for Outcome 4

Outcome 4: Improve the health of rivers and freshwater ecosystems and water use efficiency through implementing water reforms, and ensuring enhanced sustainability, efficiency and productivity in the management and use of water resources.

Budgeta Actual

Expenses Variation

2015-16 2015-16 2015-16

$’000 $’000 $’000

(a) (b) (a)-(b)

Program 4.1: Water Reformb

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 19,788 18,060 1,728

Special accounts 2,217 1,567 650

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 427 776 (349)

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationc 40,088 34,668 5,420

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 42 420 (378)

Total for Program 4.1 62,562 55,491 7,071

Program 4.2: Commonwealth Environmental Water

Administered expenses

Special accounts 29,925 21,593 8,332

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 593 14,074 (13,481) d

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationc 11,763 12,494 (731)

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 26 523 (497)

Total for Program 4.2 42,307 48,684 (6,377)

Outcome 4 totals by appropriation type

Administered expenses

Ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) 19,788 18,060 1,728

Special accounts 32,142 23,160 8,982

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 1,020 14,850 (13,830) d

Departmental expenses

Departmental appropriationc 51,851 47,162 4,689

Expenses not requiring appropriation in the Budget year 68 943 (875)

Total expenses for Outcome 4 104,869 104,175 694

2014-15 2015-16

Average staffing level (number) 339 171

a Full year budget, including any subsequent adjustment made to the 2015-16 Budget at Additional Estimates.

b The Administrative Arrangements Orders made on 21 September 2015, transferred responsibility for most water reform functions under the Department’s water purpose to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The responsibility, however, in relation to holding and managing the Commonwealth’s environmental water entitlements, and accounting for their value on behalf of the Australian Government still remain with the Department.

c Departmental Appropriation combines ordinary annual services (Appropriation Act No. 1) and retained revenue receipts under section 74 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

d The variance primarily related to the annual impairment on water entitlement assets which was difficult to predict at the time the budget was prepared.

322 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Appendix 4: Compliance index—List of PGPA Rule requirements

Description Requirement Page number

Letter of transmittal

A copy of the letter of transmittal signed and dated by the Accountable Authority on date final text approved, with statement that the report has been prepared in accordance with section 46 of the PGPA Act and any enabling legislation that specifies additional requirements in relation to the annual report.

Mandatory iii

Aids to access

Table of contents Mandatory v-vi

Alphabetical index Mandatory 340

Glossary of abbreviations and acronyms Mandatory 330-335

List of requirements Mandatory 322-325

Details of contact officer(s) Mandatory iv

Entity’s website address Mandatory iv

Electronic address of report Mandatory iv

Review by Accountable Authority

A review by the Accountable Authority of the entity. Mandatory 2-3

Overview of the entity

A description of the role and functions of the entity. Mandatory 13

A description of the organisational structure of the entity. Mandatory 13-15

A description of the outcomes and programs administered by the entity. Mandatory 19-20

A description of the purposes of the entity as included in corporate plan. Mandatory 19-20

An outline of the structure of the portfolio of the entity. Portfolio departments mandatory

13-15

Where the outcomes and programs administered by the entity differ from any Portfolio Budget Statement, Portfolio Additional Estimates Statement or other portfolio estimates statement that was prepared for the entity for the period, include details of variation and reasons for change.

If applicable, mandatory

19-20

Report on the Performance of the entity

Annual performance statements

Annual performance statement in accordance with paragraph 39(1)(b) of the PGPA Act and section 16F of the PGPA Rule. Mandatory 17-101

Report on Financial Performance

A discussion and analysis of the entity’s financial performance. Mandatory 8-12

A table summarising the total resources and total payments of the entity. Mandatory 313-321

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 323 322 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Description Requirement Page number

If there may be significant changes in the financial results during or after the previous or current reporting period, information on those changes, including: the cause of any operating loss of the entity; how the entity has responded to the loss and the actions that have been taken in relation to the loss; and any matter or circumstances that it can reasonably be anticipated will have a significant impact on the entity’s future operation or financial results.

If applicable, mandatory.

8-12

Management and Accountability

Corporate governance

Information on compliance with section 10 (fraud systems). Mandatory 107

A certification by accountable authority that fraud risk assessments and fraud control plans have been prepared. Mandatory 312

A certification by accountable authority that appropriate mechanisms for preventing, detecting incidents of, investigating or otherwise dealing with, and recording or reporting fraud that meet the specific needs of the entity are in place.

Mandatory 312

A certification by accountable authority that all reasonable measures have been taken to deal appropriately with fraud relating to the entity. Mandatory 312

An outline of structures and processes in place for the entity to implement principles and objectives of corporate governance. Mandatory 104-108

A statement of significant issues reported to Minister under paragraph 19(1)(e) of the PGPA Act that relates to noncompliance with Finance law and action taken to remedy noncompliance.

If applicable, mandatory

108

External scrutiny

Information on the most significant developments in external scrutiny and the entity’s response to the scrutiny. Mandatory 111

Information on judicial decisions and decisions of administrative tribunals and by the Australian Information Commissioner that may have a significant effect on the operations of the entity.

If applicable, mandatory

112-115

Information on any reports on operations of the entity by the AuditorGeneral (other than report under section 43 of the Act), a Parliamentary Committee, or the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

If applicable, mandatory

116-121

Information on any capability reviews on the entity that were released during the period. If applicable, mandatory

Not

applicable

Management of human resources

An assessment of the entity’s effectiveness in managing and developing employees to achieve entity objectives. Mandatory 95-101, 132

Statistics on the entity’s APS employees on an ongoing and nonongoing basis; including the following:

• Statistics on staffing classification level;

• Statistics on fulltime employees;

• Statistics on parttime employees;

• Statistics on gender;

• Statistics on staff location;

• Statistics on employees who identify as Indigenous.

Mandatory 130-131, 135

324 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Description Requirement Page number

Information on any enterprise agreements, individual flexibility arrangements, Australian workplace agreements, common law contracts and determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Mandatory 132-134

Information on the number of SES and nonSES employees covered by agreements etc identified in paragraph 17AG(4)(c). Mandatory 134

The salary ranges available for APS employees by classification level. Mandatory 132

A description of nonsalary benefits provided to employees. Mandatory 132

Information on the number of employees at each classification level who received performance pay. If applicable, mandatory

133

Information on aggregate amounts of performance pay at each classification level. If applicable, mandatory

133

Information on the average amount of performance payment, and range of such payments, at each classification level. If applicable, mandatory

133

Information on aggregate amount of performance payments. If applicable, mandatory 133

Assets management

An assessment of effectiveness of assets management where asset management is a significant part of the entity’s activities. If applicable, mandatory

136

Purchasing

An assessment of entity performance against the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. Mandatory 136-138

Consultants

A summary statement detailing the number of new contracts engaging consultants entered into during the period; the total actual expenditure on all new consultancy contracts entered into during the period (inclusive of GST); the number of ongoing consultancy contracts that were entered into during a previous reporting period; and the total actual expenditure in the reporting year on the ongoing consultancy contracts (inclusive of GST).

Mandatory 137

A statement that “During [reporting period], [specified number] new consultancy contracts were entered into involving total actual expenditure of $[specified million]. In addition, [specified number] ongoing consultancy contracts were active during the period, involving total actual expenditure of $[specified million] .”

Mandatory 137

A summary of the policies and procedures for selecting and engaging consultants and the main categories of purposes for which consultants were selected and engaged.

Mandatory 136-137

A statement that “Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website.”

Mandatory 137

Australian National Audit Office access clauses

If an entity entered into a contract with a value of more than $100,000 (inclusive of GST) and the contract did not provide the AuditorGeneral with access to the contractor’s premises, the report must include the name of the contractor, purpose and value of the contract, and the reason why a clause allowing access was not included in the contract.

If applicable, mandatory

Not

applicable

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 325 324 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Description Requirement Page number

Exempt contracts

If an entity entered into a contract or there is a standing offer with a value greater than $10,000 (inclusive of GST) which has been exempted from being published in AusTender because it would disclose exempt matters under the FOI Act, the annual report must include a statement that the contract or standing offer has been exempted, and the value of the contract or standing offer, to the extent that doing so does not disclose the exempt matters.

If applicable, mandatory

137

Small business

A statement that “[Name of entity] supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market. Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) and Small Enterprise participation statistics are available on the Department of Finance’s website.”

Mandatory 137

An outline of the ways in which the procurement practices of the entity support small and medium enterprises. Mandatory 136-137

If the entity is considered by the Department administered by the Finance Minister as material in nature—a statement that “[Name of entity] recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the Survey of Australian Government Payments to Small Business are available on the Treasury’s website.”

If applicable, mandatory

137

Financial statements

Inclusion of the annual financial statements in accordance with subsection 43(4) of the Act. Mandatory 142-243

Other mandatory information

If the entity conducted advertising campaigns, a statement that “During [reporting period], the [name of entity] conducted the following advertising campaigns: [name of advertising campaigns undertaken]. Further information on those advertising campaigns is available at [address of entity’s website] and in the reports on Australian Government advertising prepared by the Department of Finance. Those reports are available on the Department of Finance’s website.”

If applicable, mandatory

138

If the entity did not conduct advertising campaigns, a statement to that effect. If applicable, mandatory

Not

applicable

A statement that “Information on grants awarded by [name of entity] during [reporting period] is available at [address of entity’s website].” If applicable, mandatory

138

Outline of mechanisms of disability reporting, including reference to website for further information. Mandatory 135

Website reference to where the entity’s Information Publication Scheme statement pursuant to Part II of FOI Act can be found. Mandatory 121

Correction of material errors in previous annual report. If applicable, mandatory 326

Information required by other legislation:

• Work health and safety;

• Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance;

• Advertising and marketing expenditure

Mandatory

122-124

125-129

138-139

326 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Appendix 5: Corrections to material errors in the 2014-15 Annual Report

The proportion of ongoing staff from a non-English-speaking background reported in the Department of the Environment Annual Report 2014-15 was incorrectly stated as 11.9 per cent (Table 18: Diversity groups, page 174). The correct figure, from the Australian Public Service Employment Database, is 7.4 per cent.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 327 326 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

328 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

Appendices

Ice cave in an iceberg off Antarctica (© Copyright Department of the Environment and Energy)

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Navigation Aids

Navigation Aids

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Navigation Aids

Glossary

Term Meaning

Activities The PGPA Act defines activities as the actions and/or efforts performed by a Commonwealth entity or Commonwealth company to deliver government objectives and achieve desired results.

Biodiversity The term biodiversity is a contraction of, and synonymous with, biological diversity. Biological diversity is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity to mean ‘the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems’. A similar definition appears in the glossary to the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.

Bioregion A geographic area characterised by a combination of physical and biological characteristics—for example, terrain, climate and ecological communities. The glossary of terms related to the Convention on Biological Diversity provides the following definition: ‘a territory defined by a combination of biological, social, and geographic criteria, rather than geopolitical considerations; generally, a system of related, interconnected ecosystems’. The term bioregion is a contraction of biogeographic region and is usually synonymous with that term. Bioregions are a useful way to analyse patterns of biodiversity. The definition of a particular bioregion depends on the scale at which its characteristic features are measured.

Biota The plant and animal life of a region.

Bycatch Accidental or incidental catch taken by fishers (non-target species).

Carbon credit A tradeable unit corresponding to one metric tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. Participants in the Emissions Reduction Fund are issued with Australian Carbon Credit Units.

Carbon market A generic term for a trading system in which governments or private organisations may buy and sell carbon credits in an effort to meet limits on emissions.

Commonwealth Heritage List Comprises places that are owned or controlled by the Australian Government and have natural, Indigenous and/or historic heritage values under the

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This includes places connected to defence, communications, customs and other government activities that also reflect Australia’s development as a nation.

Commonwealth protected area A marine or terrestrial area protected under Commonwealth legislation, including a World Heritage Area, National Heritage place, Marine Protected Area,

Ramsar wetland, Indigenous Protected Area and other areas within the National Reserve System.

Corporate governance

The process by which agencies are directed, controlled and held to account. It is generally understood to encompass authority, accountability, stewardship, leadership, direction and control.

Ecological communities

Naturally occurring groups of species inhabiting a common environment; interacting with each other, especially through food relationships; and relatively independent of other groups. Ecological communities may vary in size and larger ones may contain smaller ones. In the EPBC Act they are defined as assemblages of native species that inhabit particular areas in nature.

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Navigation Aids

Term Meaning

Ecologically sustainable

The EPBC Act defines ecologically sustainable use of natural resources as ‘use of the natural resources within their capacity to sustain natural processes while maintaining the life-support systems of nature and ensuring that the benefit of the use to the present generation does not diminish the potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations’.

Ecosystem A dynamic combination of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment (e.g. soil, water and the climatic regime) interacting as a functional unit. Examples of types of ecosystems include forests, wetlands, and grasslands.

Environmental impact assessment An assessment of the possible impact of a proposed action undertaken to enable environment and heritage protection and biodiversity conservation.

Environmental water Water provided for the environment to sustain and, where necessary, restore ecological processes and biodiversity of water-dependent ecosystems.

Expenses Total value of all of the resources consumed in producing goods and services.

Finalised Priority Assessment List The list of nominated species, ecological communities and key threatening processes that have been approved for assessment by the Minister for a

particular assessment year (1 October-30 September). Each item included on the list is assessed by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee against a set of criteria. At the completion of the assessment the committee provides a listing advice to the Minister for decision, as well as a conservation advice that outlines immediate conservation priorities.

Greenhouse gases Heat-trapping gases that are a natural part of the atmosphere. They maintain higher temperatures at the earth’s surface than would otherwise be possible. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect. Water vapour is the most abundant greenhouse gas. Its concentration in the atmosphere is highly variable and human activities have little direct impact on it. Humans have most impact on carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Various artificial chemicals such as halocarbons contribute to climate change. The earth’s climate is warming. Scientists agree that some of this warming is due to human activities— particularly burning fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) and land clearing— increasing the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Hydrological connectivity

The ability of water to move from one location to another, thereby facilitating the transfer of matter, energy and organisms.

Indigenous Protected Area An area of Indigenous-owned land or sea where traditional owners have entered into an agreement with the Australian Government to promote biodiversity and

cultural resource conservation.

Matters of national environmental significance

The matters of national environmental significance protected under the EPBC Act are listed threatened species and communities; listed migratory species; wetlands of international importance; Commonwealth marine environment; World Heritage properties; National Heritage places; the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park; nuclear actions; and water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development.

National Heritage List A written record of the places and their heritage values that the Minister is satisfied have one or more of the National Heritage values.

Operating costs Expenses associated with the day-to-day operation of the Department.

Outcomes The intended results, impacts or consequences of actions by the Government on the Australian community. They are listed in agencies’ portfolio budget statements and portfolio additional estimates statements.

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Navigation Aids

Term Meaning

Ozone-depleting substances Substances that deplete the earth’s protective ozone layer. They are widely used in refrigerators, air conditioners, fire extinguishers, dry cleaning

and electronic equipment, as solvents for cleaning, and as agricultural fumigants. Ozone-depleting substances include chlorofluorocarbons, halon, hydrochlorofluorocarbons and methyl bromide. Countries have agreed to phase out ozone-depleting substances through the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. Some industries that use ozone-depleting substances are replacing those substances with synthetic greenhouse gases.

Persistent organic pollutants Hazardous and environmentally persistent substances that can be transported between countries by the earth’s oceans and atmosphere. The substances

bioaccumulate and have been traced in the fatty tissues of humans and other animals. Persistent organic pollutants include dieldrin, polychlorinated biphenyls, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), dioxins and furans. Countries have agreed to control the manufacture and trade of persistent organic pollutants through the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Portfolio additional estimates statements (PAES)

Updating or amending information in the portfolio budget statements on the resources available to, and the planned performance of, each agency within a portfolio.

Portfolio budget statements (PBS) Detailed information on the resources available to, and the planned performance of, each agency within a portfolio. The PBS includes expenditure and revenue

estimates for the current financial year, the budget year and the three forward years. It informs senators, members of Parliament and the public of the proposed allocation of resources to government outcomes. The PBS provides an important means by which the executive government remains accountable to the Parliament.

Procurement The whole process of acquiring property and services. Procurement involves the processes of developing a business case, including risk assessment; identifying and evaluating alternative solutions; approaching the market; assessing tenders or quotes; awarding contracts; delivering and paying for the property and services and, where relevant, the ongoing management of a contract and consideration of options related to the contract. Procurement also extends to the ultimate disposal of property at the end of its useful life.

Product stewardship

Recognises that manufacturers, importers and others who benefit from making and selling a product share some responsibility for the environmental impacts of that product.

Programs Agencies deliver programs that are the government actions taken to deliver the stated outcomes. Agencies are required to identify the programs that contribute to government outcomes over the budget and forward years.

Purposes The PGPA Act defines purposes (when used in relation to a Commonwealth entity or Commonwealth company) to include the objectives, functions or role of the entity or company. In relation to performance management, purposes are defined as the reasons or ideal state or outcomes for which the entity or company undertakes its activities.

‘Ramsar’ wetlands Wetlands of international importance that are named after the international treaty under which such wetlands are listed.

Revenue The total value of resources earned or received to cover the production of goods and services.

Shipping day 24-hour period during which a ship is under charter to the Australian Antarctic Division.

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 333 332 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Term Meaning

Sustainable diversion limit The maximum long-term annual average quantities of water that can be taken, on a sustainable basis, from Murray-Darling Basin water resources as a whole

and from the water resources, or particular parts of the water resources, of each resource plan area in the Basin.

Synthetic greenhouse gases (SGGs)

Greenhouse gases that are either used in industrial applications or emitted as a by-product of industrial activity. They include hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. Some industries that use ozone-depleting substances are replacing those substances with synthetic greenhouse gases.

Threat abatement plan Threat abatement plans are developed when they are deemed by the Minister to be a feasible, efficient and effective way of abating a listed key threatening

process, having regard to the advice of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee and other nominated persons or bodies.

Threatened species

Listed threatened species (together with listed threatened ecological communities) form one of the nine matters of national environmental significance protected by the EPBC Act. Listed threatened species are categorised under the Act as ‘extinct’, ‘extinct in the wild’, ‘critically endangered’, ‘endangered’, ‘vulnerable’ or ‘conservation dependent’.

Uplistings Changes to a higher threat category, of species already on the threatened list.

334 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Abbreviations and acronyms

Abbreviations and acronyms Meaning

ABRS Australian Biological Resources Study

ACCSP Australian Climate Change Science Program

ACT Australian Capital Territory

APS Australian Public Service

ARC Australian Refrigeration Council

ARENA Australian Renewable Energy Agency

ATEP Act Antarctic Treaty (Environment Protection) Act 1980

CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

CMS Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

CO2-e Carbon dioxide equivalent

CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

CTI Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security

EPBC Act Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

ERF Emissions Reduction Fund

FOI Act Freedom of Information Act 1982

FPAA Fire Protection Association Australia

GL Gigalitre

GST Goods and services tax

GWh Gigawatt hour

Ha Hectare

HCFCs Hydrochlorofluorocarbons

JAMBA Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement

ICT Information and communications technology

IESC Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development

INCAS Indonesian National Carbon Accounting

IPBES Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

ISO14001:2004 International standard for environmental management systems

K-axis Kerguelen Axis

MERIT Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement Tool

ML Megalitre

MNES Matters of national environmental significance

MoU Memorandum of Understanding

MW Megawatt

NCCARF National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility

NDVI Normalised Difference Vegetation Index

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 335 334 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Abbreviations and acronyms Meaning

NESP National Environmental Science Program

NESTRA National Environmental Significance Threat Risk Assessment tool

NRM Natural resource management

NSW New South Wales

NT: Northern Territory

ODP Ozone-depleting potential

OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

PFCs Perfluorocarbons

PGPA Act Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013

PGPA Rule Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014

PNG Papua New Guinea

QLD Queensland

REDD+ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries

RET Renewable Energy Target

ROKAMBA Republic of Korea-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement

SA South Australia

SES Senior Executive Service

SF6 Sulfur hexafluoride

SGG Synthetic greenhouse gas

SLEEK System for Land-based Emissions Estimation in Kenya

SPRAT Species Profile and Threats

TAS Tasmania

tCO2-e Carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

VIC Victoria

WA Western Australia

WHS Act Work Health and Safety Act 2011

336 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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List of tables

Table 1.1: Departmental financial performance, 2014-15 and 2015-16 9

Table 1.2: Departmental financial position, 2014-15 and 2015-16 10

Table 1.3: Administered financial performance, 2014-15 and 2015-16 11

Table 1.4: Administered assets and liabilities, 2014-15 and 2015-16 12

Table 2.1: Alignment between purposes and outcomes outlined in the Corporate Plan 2015-16 and Portfolio Budget Statements 2015-16 20

Table 2.2: Number of projects delivered against each strategic objective 22

Table 2.3: Green Army and National Landcare Program vegetation results 2015 25

Table 2.4: Regional delivery projects focused on Threatened Species Strategy priorities 26

Table 2.5: Actions to target threats to species and communities 27

Table 2.6: Projects with a threatened species focus 28

Table 2.7: Plantings through Biodiversity Fund projects 31

Table 2.8: Area treated for invasive animals and plants 32

Table 2.9: Australian Carbon Credit Units issued 32

Table 2.10: Oil recovered for re-use under the Product Stewardship for Oil Scheme 49

Table 2.11: Comcare premiums from 2012-13 to 2015-16 (excluding GST) 96

Table 2.12: Employee engagement scores from APS Employee Census 97

Table 2.13: The Department’s annual legal services expenditure over the previous five years. (excluding GST) 98

Table 3.1: Departmental Audit Committee and Portfolio Audit Committee membership and meeting attendance, 2015-16 106

Table 3.2: Incidents notified under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 2015-16 123

Table 3.3: Amount of ministerial correspondence over the past five years (excluding campaign correspondence) 125

Table 3.4: Examples of how the Department applies the principles of ecologically sustainable development 126

Table 3.5: Key to job classification symbols 129

Table 3.6: Job classification, gender and location as at 30 June 2016 130

Table 3.7: Full-time employees under the Public Service Act 1999 as at 30 June 2016 131

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Table 3.8: Part-time employees under the Public Service Act 1999 as at June 2016 131

Table 3.9: Employment arrangements as at 30 June 2016 134

Table 3.10: Diversity groups, including number of employees who identify as Indigenous, as at 30 June 2016 135

Table 3.11: Advertising and market research expenditure in excess of $12,700, 2015-16 (GST inclusive) 138

Table 5.1: Overview of EPBC Act referrals and approval of actions, 2015-16 261

Table 5.2: Decisions on EPBC Act referrals made in 2015-16, by jurisdiction 262

Table 5.3: Decisions on EPBC Act referrals made in 2015-16, by activity category 262

Table 5.4: Decisions on assessment approach made in 2015-16, by type 263

Table 5.5: Matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act considered in relation to impacts of proposed action, 2015-16 263

Table 5.6: Applications received and permits granted for cetacean research or impacts under the EPBC Act, 2015-16 264

Table 5.7: Compliance and enforcement under the EPBC Act in terrestrial reserves during 2015-16 264

Table 5.8: Compliance and enforcement under the EPBC Act in marine reserves during 2015-16 265

Table 5.9: Species and ecological communities listing outcomes under the EPBC Act, 2015-16 265

Table 5.10: Number of nominations and changes to the lists of threatened species, ecological communities and key threatening processes under the EPBC Act in 2015-16 268

Table 5.11: EPBC Act listed threatened species and ecological communities covered by recovery plans, as at 30 June 2016 268

Table 5.12: Recovery plans made or adopted under the EPBC Act in 2015-16 268

Table 5.13: Key threatening processes and threat abatement plans listed under the EPBC Act 269

Table 5.14: Wildlife seizure records issued by Australian authorities under the EPBC Act, 2015-16 271

Table 5.15: Top 10 species covered by EPBC Act wildlife import permits in 2015-16 271

Table 5.16: Top 10 species most often issued EPBC Act wildlife export permits in 2015-16 271

Table 5.17: EPBC Act assessments of Commonwealth and state managed fisheries completed 2015-16 272

Table 5.18: EPBC Act referrals, assessments and approvals and their compliance with statutory time frames in 2015-16 273

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Table 5.19: Decisions made under other EPBC Act provisions that did not meet statutory time frames in 2015-16 275

Table 5.20: Membership of the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development as at 30 June 2016 276

Table 5.21: Membership of the Indigenous Advisory Committee as at 30 June 2016 276

Table 5.22: Membership of the Australian Heritage Council at 30 June 2016 276

Table 5.23: Membership of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee as at 30 June 2016 277

Table 5.24: Statistics on fuel sampling under the Fuel Quality Standards Act 1999, 2012-13 to 2015-16 282

Table 5.25: Membership of the Fuel Standards Consultative Committee, 2015-16 282

Table 5.26: Membership of the Hazardous Waste Technical Group as at 30 June 2016 285

Table 5.27: Compliance actions under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 in 2015-16 288

Table 5.28: Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Special Account revenue, 2015-16 289

Table 5.29: Product stewardship (oil) benefit payments paid to recyclers, by category, in 2015-16 294

Table 5.30: Decisions made by the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder on the use of Commonwealth environmental water in 2015-16 296

Table 5.31: Environmental Water Holdings Special Account expenditure, 2015-16 301

Table 5.32: Summary of supervision activities of the Supervising Scientist Branch at five sites in the Alligator Rivers Region, 2015-16 304

Table 5.33: Supervising Scientist Branch budget for 2014-15 and 2015-16 308

Table 5.34: Supervising Scientist Branch staffing numbers for 2014-15 and 2015-16 308

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 339 338 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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List of figures

Figure 1.1: D epartmental financial performance, 2012-13 to 2016-17 ($ million) 9

Figure 1.2: A dministered activities, 2012-13 to 2016-17 ($ million) 1 1

Figure 1.3: E nvironment Portfolio and Department of the Environment organisational structure as at 30 June 2016 1 4

Figure 2.1: G reat Barrier Reef pollutant load reductions 3 0

Figure 2.2: S ources of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by inventory sector and available Emissions Reduction Fund methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in those sectors 5 9

Figure 2.3: N umber of scientific papers published in peer-reviewed journals and/or submitted to key international forums in the previous calendar year 7 0

Figure 2.4: N umber of international institutions collaborating in the Australian Antarctic program 7 0

Figure 2.5: N umber of scientists active in Antarctica, the sub-Antarctic and the Southern Ocean 7 0

Figure 2.6: B ioregional assessment areas 8 5

Figure 2.7: U ranium concentration downstream of Ranger mine 8 9

Figure 2.8: A n initial output of the habitat mapping process showing areas greater than 1000 ha of inferred koala habitat under hotter and mostly drier conditions 9 4

Figure 3.1: K ey departmental governance committees 1 04

Figure 5.1: R esearch projects of the Supervising Scientist Branch, 2015-16 3 06

340 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Index

A abbreviations and acronyms, 334-335 actions on Commonwealth land, 248-249 administered expenditure, 8 administered finances, 11-12 address and contact details, iv advertising and market research, 138-139 air pollution, 38 Alligator Rivers Region, 85-86, 88-89, 90,

303-308

annual performance statements, 18-101 Antarctica, 6, 8, 20, 68-74 Antarctic Treaty, 71, 249 analysis against purpose, 71

aviation capability, 71, 73-74 Aurora Australis, 68, 71, 72, 74 icebreaking ships, 6, 68, 71 purpose, 68 research papers, 69-70 restoration obligations, 8-10 results against key performance indicators,

69-71

station resupply missions, 68, 71, 73-74 APS Employee Census 2015-16, 96-97 APS Values, Code of Conduct and Employment Principles, 134 assets management, 8-12, 136 Atlas of Living Australia, 83 Auditor-General reports, 116 Audits

external, 97 internal, 106 Aurora Australis, 71 AusTender, 136-137 Australia’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

2010-2030, 21, 24 Australian Antarctic Division, 68, 122-123 Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 Year

Action Plan, 6, 68 Australian Biological Resources Study, 83-84 Australian Climate Change Science Program, 86 Australian Faunal Directory, 83 Australian Heritage Council, 42, 50, 259, 276

Australian Heritage Strategy, 5, 38, 50 Australian Information Commissioner decisions, 115 Australian National Audit Office, 97, 116 Australian Public Service reviews, 7 Australian Renewable Energy Agency, 5, 13, 63 Awards and innovation, 110

B Baldwin, the Hon Bob MP, 13 Basin-wide environmental watering strategy, 78 biodiversity conservation and research, 24,

83-84, 90

Biodiversity Fund, 4, 31-32 biological resources in Commonwealth areas, 249 Bioregional Assessment Program, 84-85 Briggs, the Hon Jamie MP, 13 Brown River Catchment, 44 Bush Blitz, 83-84, 91

C case studies Antarctic station resupply mission, 73-74 beef cattle herd management, 65-67

eastern curlew conservation, 52 export approvals for low-risk fisheries, 51 Farming Microbes, 34-35 Global Forest Observations Initiative,

64-65

Great Barrier Reef monitoring and protection, 34-35, 91-93 Green Army, 35-36 illegal wildlife imports, 255 Indigenous graduates, 101 koala habitat mapping, 93-94 engaging with traditional owners in the

Macquarie catchment, 79 natural cues for environmental watering, 80-81 ozone depleting substances, 53

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 341 340 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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Southern Ocean scientific research, 72-73 strategic assessments, 54 cetacean permits, 249 Clean Energy Finance Corporation, 4, 5, 6, 13, 63 Clean Energy Innovation Fund, 6 Clean Energy Regulator, 5, 60, 61, 63 Client Service Officer, 124 climate change, 5-6, 20, 55-67 adaptation initiatives, 57-58 analysis against purpose, 63-67 funding for, 6 global agreement, 63 preparedness initiatives, 6 programs and outcomes, 20 purpose, 55 research, 86-87 results against key performance indicators,

58-62

Climate Change Authority, 5 Climate Change in Australia website, 57-58 coal seam gas and coal mining, 84-86, 90, 259 Comcare premiums, 96 Commonwealth environmental water, 6-8,

75-81, 295-300 Commonwealth Heritage List, 42, 251 Commonwealth heritage places, 50 Commonwealth Ombudsman, 116 Commonwealth Procurement Rules 2014, 136 Commonwealth reserves, 251 communications and engagement, 108-110 conservation advices, 39 consultancies, 137 contact details, iv controlled action determinations, 247-248 Convention Concerning the Protection of the

World Cultural and National Heritage, 38 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and

Flora (CITES), 40, 47, 50 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), 40, 45 Coral Triangle Initiative for Coral Reefs,

Fisheries and Food Security, 45-46 corporate governance, 104-108 Corporate Plan 2015-16, 4, 19-20, 105

corporate support, 95-100 analysis against purpose, 100 purpose relating to, 82 results against key performance indicators,

96-100

corrections to material errors, 326 court and tribunal decisions, 112-15 cultural awareness program, departmental, 135

D de Brouwer, Dr Gordon (Secretary), 2 Declaration on Combating Wildlife Trafficking, 40, 47

deregulation and red tape reduction, 100, 111 Disability Action Plan 2016-2019, 7, 95, 135 dugongs, 39-40

E e-waste, 284-285, 290-291 East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership, 52 eastern curlew conservation, 52 ecologically sustainable development,

125-129

email address, iv Emissions Reduction Fund, 5, 55, 59-60, 63, 65-67 emissions reduction targets, 55, 58-63, 127 employees

census, 96-97 classifications, 129-130 with disability, 7, 135 diversity, 134-135 education and training, 99-100, 110-111, 132 employment terms and conditions,

132-134

enterprise agreement, 132 gender, 130-131 Indigenous, 101, 134-135 individual flexibility arrangements, 132 mental health initiatives, 122-123 performance management, 132 profile, 129-31 retention and turnover, 131 Encyclopaedia of Life, 83 enterprise agreement, 132

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Entity Resource Statement, 313-314 environment and heritage, 4, 21-54 analysis against purpose, 32-33, 50 programs and outcomes, 20

purpose, 21 results against key performance indicators, 25-31, 41-49 Environment portfolio, 13-15 Environment Protection (Alligator Rivers

Region) Act 1978 annual report, 303-308 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, 5, 37

annual report, 246-278 compliance with statutory time frames, 273-275 enforcement actions, 257-258 legislative amendments, 260 environmental compliance monitoring, 38 Environmental Goods Agreement, 109 environmental impact assessment, 247, 331 environmental performance, 125-129 environmental referrals, assessments and

approvals, 4-5, 37-40, 48, 246-252 statistics, 261-265 environmental science and research, 7, 82-94 analysis against purpose, 90-91 environmental water see Commonwealth

environmental water Environmental Water Holdings Special Account, 301 EPBC Act Condition-setting policy, 5, 37 Essential Environmental Measures for

Australia program, 86-88 ethical standards, 134 Evaluation Policy 2015-2020, 95, 105 Executive Board, 104 exempt contracts, 137 expenses for outcomes, 315-321 external scrutiny, 111-121

F feedback and complaints, 116, 124 female employees, 130 feral cats, 23, 28, 39 Finalised Priority Assessment List, 42, 250

financial breaches, 97 financial performance, 8-12 financial statements, 142-243 fisheries assessments and approvals, 256-257

statistics, 272 fisheries management, 51 Flora of Australia Online, 83 forums, international, 47, 109-110 fraud control, 107, 312 freedom of information, 121 fuel quality standards, 40-41, 281-283 Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000 annual report,

281-283

Fuel Standards Consultative Committee, 282-283 full-time employees, 131

G gender of employees, 130 Global Biodiversity Information Facility, 83 Global Forest Observations Initiative, 56,

64-65

glossary, 330-333 Goulburn, 76, 78 Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 4, 13, 21, 30, 91-93

Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, 21, 38, 41, 43, 91-93 analysis against purpose, 32-3 purpose relating to, 21 results against key performance indicators,

29-30

water quality improvement case study, 34-35 Green Army program, 24, 32-33 Olive Pink Botanic Garden case study,

35-36

results against key performance indicators, 25-26, 28, 31 greenhouse gas emissions, 53, 55-59 Global Forest Observations Initiative,

64-65

results against key performance indicators, 58-61 Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries, 51

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 343 342 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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H hazardous waste, 40-41, 48, 49, 50, 284-285 Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 annual report, 284-5

Hazardous Waste Technical Group, 285 Heard Island and McDonald Islands, 68, 72 Heritage conservation, 38, 42, 43 Heritage grants, 51 Human resources, 129-135 Hunt, the Hon Greg MP, 13 Hydrochlorofluorocarbons, 49, 53, 287

I icebreaking ships, Antarctic, 68, 71 income, 9, 11-12 Independent Expert Scientific Committee on

Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development, 84, 90, 259, 276 Indigenous Advisory Committee, 259, 276 Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy 2016-2019, 7, 95, 99, 101, 134 Indigenous graduate intake, 101 Indigenous heritage places, 38, 41-42, 50 Indigenous natural resource management, 28, 31 Indigenous procurement, 100, 137-138 Indigenous Protected Areas, 4, 22 Indonesian National Carbon Accounting System, 56 industrial chemicals, 49, 50 information and communications technology, 98 innovation initiatives, 110-111 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, 110 international and regional engagement, 109-110 Antarctica and the Southern Ocean, 68,

69, 71

climate change, 56-57, 61, 63-65 hazardous chemicals, 40-41 heritage places, 41 Kokoda Initiative, 44 marine biological diversity, 45-46 ozone-depleting substances, 49, 53

threatened species and ecological communities, 40-41 wildlife trade, 47 International Council on Monuments and

Sites, 43

International Plant Names Index, 83 International Union for Conservation of Nature, 4, 39, 43 International Whaling Commission, 45, 71 invasive animals and plants, 32, 35-6,

253-255, 269-270

J Jabiluka, 304-305 Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA), 40

K K-Axis marine science voyage, 72-73 Kakadu National Park, 85, 304 key threatening processes, 46, 253-254,

268-270

koala habitat mapping, 93-94 Kokoda Initiative, 44

L Landcare see National Landcare Program legal expenditure, 98-99 Legislative reporting, 245-308 liabilities, 10 List of Exempt Native Specimens, 51 list of figures, 339 List of Requirements, 322-325 list of tables, 336-338 listed species, 39, 46, 253 Long-term Intervention Monitoring Project,

6-7, 76, 77, 78

M machinery-of-government changes, 7, 10-11, 13, 63, 133 management and accountability, 104-139 matters of national environmental

significance, 39-40, 47, 50, 246-248

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mental health, employee, 122-123 methyl bromide, 287, 332 migratory species, 39-40, 45, 52, 252-253 Minamata Convention on Mercury, 41 mining see coal seam gas and coal mining;

uranium mining Minister for Cities and the Built Environment, 13 Minister for the Environment, 13 ministerial correspondence, 125 Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and

Improvement Tool (MERIT), 22 Montreal Protocol, 49, 53, 286-289 Murray-Darling Basin Authority, 6, 13, 75, 78,

295

Murray-Darling Basin, 75-81, 295-301 Murray-Darling Basin Plan, 6-7, 75, 77, 126, 295, 300

N National Clean Air Agreement, 38 National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, 57, 62

National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy, 6, 57, 127 National Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan 2014-2017, 39-40 National Energy Productivity Plan, 5, 127 National Environmental Science Program, 7,

83, 87, 90-3

National Environmental Significance Threat Risk Assessment tool (NESTRA), 38 National Heritage List, 42, 50, 250, 259 National Industrial Chemicals Notification and

Assessment Scheme, 84 National Landcare Program, 4, 21-3, 116, 279-80 results against key performance criteria,

25-33

National Principles for Environmental Information, 87 National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, 48, 290 native species and ecological communities,

23-36, 252-254 Natural Heritage Trust of Australia Act 1997 annual report, 279-80

natural resource management, 4, 21-36 notifiable incidents, 123-124

O Office of Climate Change and Renewables Innovation, departmental, 5, 15, 63 Olive Pink Botanic Garden, 35-6 operating deficit, 9 operating expenses, 9-10 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and

Development, 109 organisational structure, 13-15 One-stop shop, 120, 260 outcomes, 19-20 Outcomes-based condition policy and

guidance, 5, 37 Owen Stanley Ranges, 44 ozone-depleting substances, 40, 49, 53,

286-289, 332

Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989 annual report, 286-9

P Pacific Regional Environment Program, 40 Paint Back scheme, 49 parliamentary committee reports, 116-121 parliamentary services, 125 Performance Framework for Regional Natural

Resource Management Organisations, 22 performance pay, 133 persistent organic pollutants, 41, 332 portfolio agencies, 13 Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2015-16, 19-20 Portfolio Budget Statements 2015-16, 19-20 procurement, 136-138 product stewardship, 40-1, 49, 290-294 Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000, 293-294 Product Stewardship Act 2011, 49 annual report, 290-2 Product Stewardship Advisory Group, 292 Product Stewardship for Oil Scheme, 49 professional development programs, 57, 132

Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16 345 344 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16

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programs and outcomes, 20 project management, departmental, 107 Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, 4

compliance, 108 publications Antarctic research, 69-70

Australian Climate Change Science Program, 86 Bioregional Assessment Program, 84 datasets, 87 guidelines and policy statements, 278 guides, 278 National Greenhouse Accounts, 58 supervising scientist reports, 89 taxonomy, 83 wetlands management, 76 purposes, 19-20

R Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 76 Ranger uranium mine, 85-86, 88-89, 303-308 Reconciliation Action Plan 2016-2019, 7, 95,

99, 134

recovery plans, threatened species, 39-40, 46, 253, 268-269 recycled material, 48, 293-294 Red List of Threatened Species, 4, 39 REDD+ program, 61, 64-5 REDDcompass, 65 Reef 2050 Advisory Committee, 21 Reef 2050 Annual Report and Implementation

Strategy 2016, 21 Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, 21, 29-30, 38, 91-93 report cards, 29-30 Reef Fund, 4 Reef program, 21, 29, 34-35 Reef Trust, 4, 21, 26-30 Regional Natural Resource Management

Planning for Climate Change Fund, 62 Register of Environmental Organisations, 302 regulation impact statement, 41 Regulator Performance Framework, 100 Renewable Energy Target, 55, 61, 63

Republic of Korea-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (ROKAMBA), 40 research see environmental science and research responsible ministers, 13 revenue, 9-10 risk management, 7, 105 river and freshwater ecosystems, 6-7, 75-81 role and functions, 13, 19-20 Royal Commission into the Home Insulation

Program, 111

S Secretary, 2-3 reporting lines to, 14-15 senior executive service remuneration, 133 senior management committees, 104 Service Charter 2014-2016, 124 shark species, 40, 45 small and medium enterprises, 97, 137 Smart Cities Plan, 6 Southern Ocean scientific research, 72-73 special accounts, 8 Species Profile and Threats database, 46, 253 Staff retention, 131 State of the Environment report, 82, 88 states and territories, collaboration with

biodiversity, 24 bioregional assessments, 84-86 Great Barrier Reef, 21, 30 threatened species and ecological

communities, 39

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 41 strategic assessments, 48, 54, 248 Supervising Scientist Branch, 85-86, 303-308 Sustainable Cities Investment fund, 6 synthetic greenhouse gases, 40-1, 286-289 System for Land-based Emissions Estimation

in Kenya, 56

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T Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, 38, 43, 250 taxonomic research, 83-84, 90-91 telephone number, iv television and computer recycling, 48,

290-291

threat abatement plans, 39, 46, 253-254, 269-270 threatened species and ecological communities, 4-5, 23, 26-28, 31-32,

39-40, 46, 52, 252-254 analysis against purpose, 50 regulation, 39-40 results against key performance criteria,

26-28, 31-32, 46 statistics, 265-270 Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 28, 252, 259, 277 Threatened Species Strategy, 4, 23, 26-28, 39 Tribunals see courts and tribunals turtles, 39-40 20 Million Trees program, 23

statistics, 25-26, 28 2020 emissions target, 5, 55, 58, 63

U UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger, 43 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 110

United Nations Environment Programme, 109 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 55-56, 58, 63, 64-65 uranium mining, 85-86, 88-89, 90, 303-308 used oil, 49, 293-294

W wastes and hazardous substances, 40-41, 48-49, 284-285, 290-294 water, 75-81

analysis against purpose, 78 programs and outcomes, 20 purpose, 75 results against key performance indicators,

77

Water Act 2007, 75 amendments, 300 annual report, 295-301

whales and whaling, 45, 72-73, 249 wildlife trade and management, 40, 47, 50, 254-256 statistics, 271

work health and safety, 122-124 workforce planning, 131 World Heritage Committee, 38, 41, 43, 250 World Heritage Convention, 38, 41, 250 World Heritage List, 43, 250 World Heritage places, 38, 41-43, 50, 249-250

346 Department of the Environment and Energy Annual Report 2015-16