Department of the Environment

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Publications archive - Annual reports


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Environment Australia Annual Report 2001-02

Environment Australia, 2002
ISSN 1441-9335

Management and Accountability (continued)
External Scrutiny

Judicial decisions

There were no decisions of courts or tribunals in 2001-02 that significantly affected the operation of Environment Australia or which could have significantly affected the operation of Environment Australia.

Auditor-General reports

The following Auditor-General reports were tabled.

Report No. 6: Commonwealth Fisheries Management: Follow-up Audit tabled on 09/08/2001

This follow-up audit reviewed the operations of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) which is responsible for ensuring the sustainable use and efficient management of Commonwealth fisheries resources.

The objective of this follow-up audit was to assess the extent to which AFMA addressed the issues that gave rise to the recommendations of Australian National Audit Office Report No.32 1995-96, and the related recommendations of the House of Representatives Standing Committee Report 1997, that were supported by the Government.

The follow-up audit focused on the key issues identified in the recommendations and grouped these in the themes of:

The Australian National Audit Office's key conclusions are summarised below.

AFMA has now well aligned its planning and performance framework with its legislative objectives. However, in practice, the measures reported to date still provide only limited information on its planned outcome of ecologically sustainable and economically efficient Commonwealth fisheries. AFMA has developed a range of new performance indicators which, in principle, would provide far more useful performance information but for which data is currently not available. There is wider stakeholder participation in fisheries management both from a broadening of the range of interests reflected in management advisory committee membership and greater use of observers. Whilst there is now more structured guidance for management advisory committees, further guidance and support appear necessary, particularly for new management advisory committee members, to ensure that the committees operate as intended and to facilitate appropriate communication with all stakeholders.

The evolution of fishery assessment groups has resulted in considerable industry involvement in, and transparency of, the stock assessment process. However, improved guidance on the scope and nature of stock assessments and on the means of communicating scientific advice remains a challenge in order to strengthen the participation of industry in the stock assessment process and to ensure that fisheries management is supported by stock assessments of appropriate quality.

Progress in undertaking environmental impact assessments has been limited, despite their importance to all stakeholders. There are now requirements under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to establish agreements to complete such assessments, referred to as strategic assessments. Environment Australia requires these assessments to be completed by 2004, for two-thirds of Commonwealth fisheries. In these circumstances, a structured project management approach, taking into account the risks inherent in the process, would provide greater assurance to all stakeholders that AFMA can meet its obligations regarding strategic assessments.

Report No. 11: Administration of the Federation Fund Programme tabled on 19/09/2001

In May 1997, the $1 billion Federation Fund was announced as part of the 1997-98 Budget to mark the Centenary of Federation. One component, the Federation Fund Major Projects ($906.8 million), was to provide financial assistance to a number of major projects of national significance, by generating jobs in the construction industry and by making a significant and ongoing contribution to Australia and the Australian economy.

Projects were expected to be geographically spread around Australia and well advanced, but not necessarily completed, by 2001. Commonwealth monies were intended to fully fund projects, augment existing funding, or match funding from other sources.

The objective of the audit was to determine the extent to which the administration of the Federation Fund programme met identified better practice in relation to policy development and programme planning; the process of calling for, assessing, approving and announcing proposals; and ongoing programme and project management.

The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts and the Department of the Environment and Heritage are responsible for the ongoing management of the Federation Cultural Heritage Projects Programme.

The Australian National Audit Office found that the management of approved Federation Fund projects by administering departments has generally been sound, which is creditable given the complexity of many projects and the general lack of additional resources allocated to the task. However, there were some shortcomings in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's transfer of projects to administering departments, which adversely impacted on the latter's capacity to plan, establish, monitor and evaluate the projects, with consequent implications for the programme overall.

No Commonwealth department has the responsibility for monitoring the collective performance of Federation Fund projects against the programme's objectives. Consequently, up to the time of the audit, very little performance information on the achievement of the programme's overall objectives had been collected or reported to the Parliament. Where more than one portfolio is responsible for delivering the Government's programme objectives, the concept of whole-of-government performance reporting through the identification of a lead agency is an area of potential improvement in Commonwealth reporting and accountability.

In programmes of this nature, reporting only in individual departmental Portfolio Budget Statements and annual reports contributes to a 'silo effect' that would be avoided in future programmes of this nature through a more comprehensive reporting of the programme outcomes. This is a generic issue worthy of further consideration because whole-of-government responses, collectively owned by several ministers, are expected to increasingly become a common response.

Report No. 44: Australian Defence Force Fuel Management tabled on 24/04/2002

The objective of the audit was to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the Australian Defence Force management of fuel and lubricants and to identify possible areas for improvement. Discussions were held with the Department of Defence, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources, the Department of Environment and Heritage and the Australian Institute of Petroleum concerning relevant legislation and industry aspects. The cost of fuel and lubricants purchased by Defence in 2000-01 was $223.2 million.

The audit focused on major aspects of the fuel supply chain, in particular the strategic management of fuel. The audit also reviewed fuel procurement practices, storage and handling issues. The audit addressed the fuel supply aspects of these matters rather than transport, distribution and equipment issues.

The Australian National Audit Office concluded that the strategic management of Defence's fuel and lubricants supply chain is fragmented and insufficiently coordinated. There is significant scope for Defence to improve its liaison and consultation with external agencies concerning the petroleum industry environment.

The audit identified a number of activities being undertaken by Defence to improve the management of fuel and lubricants, in particular through organisational redesign and administrative reviews.

The Australian National Audit Office also found that Defence does not have a fuel procurement price risk management policy.

The Australian National Audit Office recommended that, in order to develop a more effective approach to the management of fuel and lubricants, Defence:

Parliamentary Committee reports

The following Parliamentary Committee report was tabled.

Public Good Conservation: Our Challenge for the 21st Century

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage, September 2001

Comments by the Ombudsman

No formal reports were made.