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ANZECC Communique 15

12 June 1998

Fifteenth Meeting - Wellington, N Z - 12 June 1998

Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Ministers meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, on 12 June 1998, have agreed to continue to work cooperatively on issues of national and trans-Tasman importance in the areas of freshwater, vegetation management, waste management, oceans and greenhouse. ANZECC Ministers welcomed the participation of Papua New Guinea as an observer to the meeting particularly noting the opportunity this provided for progressing a range of regional and international environmental issues between Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

Major outcomes from the meeting included agreement to:

ANZECC also released the following reports:

Further details of the meeting outcomes and the above reports are at Attachment A.


Fifteenth Meeting - Wellington, N Z - 12 June 1998

Water reform

Providing water for the environment is an integral element of COAG's Strategic Framework for Water Reform. ANZECC Ministers agreed on a wide range of measures designed to progress the implementation of the COAG Water Reform Framework across Australia. These measures will focus on:

ANZECC will provide a report to COAG on progress on the environmental components of the COAG Water Reform Framework by the end of 1998.

Vegetation management

The conservation and restoration of our native vegetation is critical to addressing our greenhouse obligations, returning land to productivity and safeguarding our biodiversity.

Australia needs to have a national framework for best practice vegetation management. The national framework will build on and draw together the range of work already underway to ensure that we turn around the decline in Australia's native vegetation.

To support this goal, ANZECC has commissioned the development of a national framework for the management and monitoring of Australia's native vegetation.

Waste management

Reducing our levels of waste is a major concern for communities throughout Australia and New Zealand. Ministers expressed their frustration that an acceptable draft Covenant was not available for their consideration. Ministers agreed a final negotiation deadline of 26 June 1998. The Covenant would be an important step in significantly reducing Australia's waste stream by 2000, but if agreement cannot be reached, alternative legislative, or other, courses will be considered.

Waste oil management

Ministers discussed the rapidly deteriorating situation regarding the disposal of waste oil particularly in northern and Western Australia which has arisen from reduced reuse opportunities. ANZECC agreed to write again to the Commonwealth Treasurer seeking a review of a decision to impose fuel excise on recycled oil used as a diesel fuel alternative; one of the few remaining options for reuse which will avoid environmentally damaging dumping of oil wastes. Ministers agreed that any fuel products produced from recycled waste oil would need to meet appropriate Australian standards. The Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia will cooperate in a study to identify any other feasible options for safe disposal of waste oil.


Appropriately in the International Year of the Oceans, ANZECC Ministers have moved to get it right for our ocean environment and to help the world redress past mistakes.

Ministers noted that discussions were taking place with regional States to progress the initiative for a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary and the views had so far been encouraging. This follows ANZECC's initiative at its last meeting calling for action to examine the establishment of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.

ANZECC will pursue measures over the next year to bolster international efforts to clean up our oceans, to help implement Australia's Oceans Policy and to strengthen joint Australian New Zealand action on the Ocean environment.

Australia and New Zealand will focus efforts in improving the health and ecological sustainability of near waters and the worlds' oceans.

ANZECC has endorsed further work on a trans Tasman understanding on oceans policy.

New Zealand is Chair of the Seventh Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD7) in 1999, which will focus on oceans. ANZECC will use this opportunity to promote initiatives though the Commission to address the global challenge for ecologically sustainable oceans management.

ANZECC has agreed to take a leading role in ensuring cross-jurisdictional implementation of actions for the environment under Australia's Oceans Policy.

This will include action on development of a National Marine Species Action Plan; expansion of Australia's existing marine reserve system through the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas; managing the environmental impacts of resource use sectors; reducing marine pollution; development of a ready response capability to introduced marine species; ecosystem-based oceans planning and management, including regional and national marine planning. The full text of ANZECC's statement on oceans policy is at Attachment B.

ANZECC today endorsed the release of a major planning tool for Australia's oceans. The IMCRA, or Interim Marine and Coastal Regionalisation for Australia, report divides Australia's marine areas into sixty regions from the coastline to the edge of the continental shelf, and larger regions from the shelf to the edge of the 200 nautical mile limit of Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone.

The report has been a cooperative exercise by Australian Governments and will be used to help identify which marine ecosystems are not yet represented in the national system of marine protected areas. The report is based on the best available data drawn from hundreds of sources. Copies of the report will be available from Environment Australia (free call number 1800 803 772).


ANZECC recognises the critical role it has to play in delivering on Australia's commitments at Kyoto. ANZECC will provide its coordinated views to COAG on the draft National Greenhouse Strategy . It will take a leadership role to ensure that measures set out in the final Strategy, for which it has responsibility, are fully implemented. In particular the Council will focus on:


Important tools for monitoring and reporting on the state of the environment have been agreed by Ministers.

ANZECC today approved the release of a discussion paper for public comment on Core Environmental Indicators for Reporting on the State of the Environment.

In 1997 ANZECC nominated the development of environmental indicators as an issue of importance for all jurisdictions.

The discussion paper will be available shortly. Its availability will be announced with a newspaper advertisement and the paper will also be placed on Environment Australia's World Wide Web site.

In the area of sustainable forest management, ANZECC Ministers endorsed a list of criteria and indicators for reporting on progress in sustainable forest management in Australia. The indicators are based on those developed by the international Montreal Process, covering twelve countries and containing 90 per cent of the World's temperate and boreal forests. The indicators are expected to be considered by the Ministerial Council on Forestry, Fisheries and Aquaculture on 7 August 1998.




Australia's Oceans Policy

1 ANZECC notes that Senator Hill, the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment, has responsibility for coordinating the development of Australia's Oceans Policy, and that the Policy is due to be finalised in August 1998.
2 ANZECC welcomes the recent release for public comment of Australia's Oceans Policy - An Issues Paper, and the release of the report of Senator Hill's Ministerial Advisory Group on Oceans Policy. ANZECC notes the broad consistency of approach between the two documents.
3 ANZECC notes that Australia's Oceans Policy will be consistent with, and help give effect to, the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment and the National Strategy for the Conservation of Biological Diversity.
4 Australia's Oceans Policy - An Issues Paper proposes that the maintenance of healthy and productive marine ecosystems and biological diversity is fundamental to the planning and management of the oceans.
5 ANZECC endorses this approach, noting the primary responsibility of environment and conservation ministers for pursuing policy issues relating to the conservation of biological diversity and ecosystems.
6 ANZECC agrees that the environment and conservation impacts of the use of oceans resources are important cross-sectoral and cross-jurisdictional issues at both the domestic and international levels.
7 Accordingly, ANZECC agrees that Australia's Oceans Policy should explicitly recognise that ANZECC has a major role in pursuing cross-jurisdictional policy development and implementation for a range of related issues, which includes the following:
(a)Marine biodiversity conservation:
(i) Setting of benchmarks and performance goals for marine biodiversity conservation.
(ii) Development of the National Marine Species Action Plan.
(b) Marine protected areas:
(i) Expanding Australia's existing marine reserve system through the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.
(ii) Producing a Strategic Plan of Action for the NRSMPA.
(iii) Development of guidelines for establishing the NRSMPA.
(c) Achieving ecologically sustainable ocean resource use through integration of environmental and conservation objectives into the resource use sectors.
(d) Marine pollution:
(i) Point sources.
(ii) Diffuse sources.
(iii) Sea dumping.
(e) Responses to introduced marine pests:
(i) Development of a ready response capability.
(f) Integration of environmental and conservation objectives into the shipping transport sector:
(i) Environmental aspects of implementing International Maritime Organisation agreements.
(g) Ecosystem based oceans planning and management:
(i) Environmental implications of cross-sectoral resource assessment, allocation and management.
(ii) Regional and national marine planning.
(iii) Application of the principles in Australia's Oceans Policy, with particular reference to protection of ecosystem health and biological diversity conservation, multiple resource use, and the precautionary principle.
(h) Promoting better understanding of and an improved knowledge base for our oceans:
(i) Approaches for undertaking cost effective strategic assessments of the biological resources of the oceans.
(i) Performance assessment and reporting on implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy:
(i) Responsibility for overall reporting on the cross-jurisdictional aspects of the environment and conservation performance of Australia's Oceans Policy.
(ii) Setting national and regional objectives for performance assessment.
8 ANZECC agrees that officials should pursue inclusion of these responsibilities in Australia's Oceans Policy and report to the next ANZECC meeting with a proposal for a work programme for ANZECC in 1999 arising out of Australia's Oceans Policy, including proposed responsibilities.

Australia-New Zealand cooperation on oceans policy

9 ANZECC recognises the commonality of interest that exists between Australia and New Zealand in ensuring that our regional oceans are managed and utilised in an ecologically sustainable manner, in particular with regard to the interface between the exclusive economic zones of the two nations and to the ecological resources that straddle or cross those zones.
10 Accordingly, ANZECC endorses the exploration between Australia and New Zealand of an understanding on oceans policy.

UN Commission on Sustainable Development 1999

11 ANZECC notes that the New Zealand Minister for the Environment, Simon Upton, will be the Chair of the Seventh Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD7) in 1999.
12 ANZECC recognises that Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 sets out the challenges and indicated pathways to sustainable oceans management.
13 ANZECC agrees that the Australian and New Zealand Governments should draw on Agenda 21 and subsequent reviews to pursue a cooperative approach to ensuring that CSD7 results in an initiative on oceans policy which addresses the global challenge for ecologically sustainable oceans management, and which is relevant to the challenges faced within the Asia-Pacific region.