Department of the Environment

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Publications archive - Annual reports

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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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.

Department of the Environment and Heritage Annual Report 2002-03

Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2003
ISSN 1441 9335

Operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (continued)

1. Protecting the environment (continued)

1.3 Increasing intergovernmental cooperation and reducing duplication

The Australian Government may enter into bilateral agreements with state and territory governments to streamline the approval and assessment processes under the Act. The Act provides mechanisms through bilateral agreements or case-by-case accreditation for increased cooperation between government processes. The capacity to enter into bilateral agreements under the Act is a key feature of the legislation and provides certainty of government cooperation. Through bilateral agreements the states and territories can be delegated the responsibility for conducting environmental assessments. Under these agreements, the Environment Minister retains his regulatory powers and his role in making approval decisions.

The Australian Government has entered into bilateral agreements with Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Experience to date indicates that assessment of projects under bilateral agreements saves time, effort and cost to proponents and governments while providing the necessary information for the Minister to make well-informed decisions on whether to approve the actions.

Development of a bilateral agreement with Queensland is well advanced. The Australian Government is awaiting a response from New South Wales on progressing finalisation of a bilateral agreement. Progress on the development of bilateral agreements with Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory awaits the outcome of reviews being conducted by both jurisdictions of their environment protection legislation.

The South Australian Government is reviewing the approach adopted by the former state government in which it declined to participate in the development of a bilateral agreement.

In the absence of bilateral agreements, intergovernmental duplication between Commonwealth and state/territory environmental assessment processes is being minimised through the use of case-by-case accreditation of assessment processes, and coordinated assessments.

Consultations have also occurred in relation to listings of threatened species and ecological communities under the Act. In December 2002, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee met with representatives of state and territory threatened species committees to discuss greater cooperation on listing issues between the various jurisdictions.