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Publications archive - Annual reports

Disclaimer

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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 1999-2000

Environment Australia, 2000
ISBN 0642450420
ISSN 1441-9335

Part Three - Management and accountability

Discussion and analysis of the Department's financial performance

Environment Australia's consolidated financial statements show an increase in accumulated surplus at the end of the reporting period of $7.811 million and an increase in net assets of $33.764 million for the 1999-2000 financial year.

A brief discussion of the budget highlights and the significant change in financial results follows.

Operating statement

During the 1999-2000 budget and additional estimates processes, Environment Australia was provided additional funding for a number of new measures. The most significant were $10.19 million for the Living Cities Programme and $10.0 million for the Ocean Policy Implementation Programme.

In addition, $8.734 million was received in Appropriation during the additional estimates process as a result of the transfer of the National Halon Bank from the Department of Finance and Administration, effective from 1 July 1999.

The final outcome was a $41.811 million surplus, as compared to a budgeted deficit of $29.472 million.

The turnaround stems from unexpected delays in the delivery of outputs. This is reflected in the financial statements as reduced expenses in the current year. A further factor was a delay in receiving an injection for asset revaluations undertaken in 1998-99.

The significant movements in the Operating Statement were revenues from Government, sales of goods and services, and employee, suppliers and other expenses.

The large increase in the revenues from Government is attributable to the move from a cash-based budget to an accrual-based budget. As a consequence Environment Australia has for the first time received funding for non-cash expenses such as depreciation and amortisation. The funding for depreciation and amortisation will be used in future years for major asset replacement programmes.

There has also been a sizeable increase in the sales of goods and services. This in part is a result of Environment Australia acquiring an additional function, namely the National Halon Bank, which has a revenue earning capacity. Also, the department has been more rigorous in pursuing cost recovery for a number of its activities.

The increased operating revenue has in part been offset by increases in operating expenses. The bigger increases being in employee, suppliers and other expenses.

Employee expenses have increased because staff received a pay increase at the end of the previous financial year under the Certified Agreement and for the first time Environment Australia has made a provision for superannuation on-costs.

A major contributing factor to the change in suppliers' expense was increased shipping transport costs for the Australian Antarctic programme. There was also a general increase in suppliers' costs.

The significant change in other expenses is a consequence of the increased funding contributed by Environment Australia to the Australian Greenhouse Office.

Balance sheet

The major asset movement was an increase in the cash held at year-end. This is another consequence of the move from a cash budget to an accrual budget. The increased amount of cash held is the funding received for non-cash expenses which will be held in the department's bank accounts until payments are required to be made. For instance, in the case of the funding for depreciation and amortisation, until a major asset replacement programme is undertaken.

In the case of liabilities the significant movement was in employee provisions being the flow-on effect of the pay increase and making a provision for superannuation on-cost for the first time.

In addition to the operating result, assets revaluations and equity appropriations contributed to the increase in equity. The equity appropriations were for the balance of the 1998-1999 carryovers and net assets acquired on transfer of the National Halon Bank function and assets transferred from the Department of Finance and Administration to the Bureau of Meteorology.

The increase in equity as a consequence of the operating surplus, asset revaluations and equity appropriations has been partially offset by the capital use charge paid and payable. The capital use charge applies for the first time and is in the nature of a dividend payment the department has made to the Official Public Account.

Administered items

The financial statements also disclose separately administered items. These are items, which are controlled by Government and managed or oversighted by Environment Australia on behalf of the Government.

The final outcome for the department was a $182.755million deficit as compared to a budgeted deficit of $225.69million.

The significant movements in the Statement of Administered Revenues and Expenses were revenues from Government, grants and suppliers expenses.

The increase in the revenues from Government reflects a funding injection for the Natural Heritage of Australia Reserve. Partially offsetting this was the one-off effect of a transfer of funds from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for the Federation Fund the previous year.

The large increase in grants and suppliers' expenses reflects two technical changes. The first was a change in our definition of the point when a grant transaction is recorded as a liability or expense. Previously this was defined as the point when the Minister made his decision. Environment Australia now requires the signature of agreement or equivalent milestone to signify a formal liability or expense. Transactions that have not yet reached this point at the end of the year are recorded in the Statement of Commitment. The second was the correction of the misclassification of grants as suppliers' expenses in Environment Australia's accounting software system that has now been rectified.

The Statement of Administered Assets and Liabilities shows large movements in cash, receivables and grants provisions. The movement in the grant provisions is for the reason just outlined above, namely the changed application in the grant definition. The shift to devolved banking partially offsets this by recording the balances of the special accounts as receivables rather than as cash.

Resource tables by outcomes

OUTCOME 1 - ENVIRONMENT
(1) Budget*
1999-2000
$'000
(2) Actual
expenses
1999-2000
$'000
Variation
(col (2)
less (1))
$'000
Budget**
2000-001
$'000
ADMINISTERED EXPENSES
Special Appropriation
Ozone Protection
500
406
(94)
480
Product Stewardship Arrangements for Waste Oil
0
0
0
24,700

Appropriation Bill 1 Grant payments

Sydney Harbour Federation Trust - Interim Trust
0
0
0
1,500
Grants-in Aid - National Trust
784
788
4
789
NEPC Service Corporation
418
418
0
418
Coastal and Marine Planning and Marine Protected Areas
1,024
853
(171)
349
Australian Biological Resource Study Participatory Grants
1,647
1,601
(46)
1,495
Payment to the Natural Heritage Trust#
128,066
128,066
0
123,934
The following grants have been reclassified as Departmental grants from 1 July 2000 and are included in 2000-01 output prices:
Cultural Heritage Projects Program
460
260
(200)
-
Historic Shipwrecks and Commemorative Events and Persons
409
412
3
-
Grants to Voluntary Environmental and Heritage Organisations
1,649
1,649
0
-
Biodiversity Convention and Strategy Program
300
520
220
-
Biodiversity ad hoc grants
441
436
(5)
-
Environment Protection Grants
663
735
72
-
Heritage Program Grants
160
226
66
-
Ad hoc grants
165
165
0
-
Bill 2 Specific Payments to the States and Territories
Management of World Heritage Properties
5,070
5,070
0
5,141
Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement
1,900
1,900
0
0
Sugar Coast Environment Rescue Package
3,683
0
(3,683)
0
Total Appropriations
147,339
143,505
(3,834)
158,806
Non-appropriated payments (eg Trust Accounts)
-
-
-
-
Federation Fund Grants
15,305
18,980
3,675
21,714
Natural Heritage Trust expenses
324,914
294,961
(29,953)
366,812
Less appropriation to Natural Heritage Trust
(see above #)
(128,066)
(128,066)
0
(123,934)
Total Administered Expenses
359,492
329,381
(30,112)
423,398
PRICE OF DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS
Output Group 1.1 - Policy advice and accountability
1.1.1 International policy advice
1,089
1,468
379
1,174
1.1.2 State of the Environment Reports
1,823
1,655
(168)
1,673
1.1.3 Corporate plan reform agenda
383
422
39
303
1.1.4 Secretariat to the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC)
261
313
52
0
1.1.5 Strategic policy coordination
2,409
2,962
553
2,260
1.1.6 Policy advice on environment protection
10,509
7,030
(3,479)
9,692
1.1.7 Policy advice on protection of the marine environment (subsumed by 1.1.10)
0
0
0
0
1.1.8 Policy advice on Australian and World Heritage issues
1,135
1,782
647
451
1.1.9 Biodiversity Program Support and policy advice
5,815
5,438
(377)
3,059
1.1.10 Marine and coastal policy advice
3,715
3,198
(517)
2,185
1.1.11 Environmental Science policy advice
183
498
315
0
1.1.12 Supervising Scientist policy advice and reports to key stakeholders
783
991
208
777
**** National Oceans Office - Policy development, advice and accountability
0
0
0
2,514
Sub-total Output Group 1.1
28,105
25,757
(2,348)
24,088
Output Group 1.2 - Scheme / grant / program admin
1.2.1 Tax concession administration
153
175
22
113
1.2.2 Environment Resource Officer scheme administration
74
95
21
88
1.2.3 Grants to voluntary environment and heritage organisations
196
222
26
1,680
1.2.4 International Conservation Program Administration
132
162
30
0
1.2.5 Environment protection grants and programs
10,010
1,605
(8,405)
34,220
1.2.6 Provision of grants - Australian Heritage
1,226
1,182
(44)
6,136
1.2.7 Biodiversity Grants Programs and Program Administration
14,923
7,810
(7,113)
16,393
1.2.8 World Heritage funding to the States
100
140
40
45
1.2.9 Program administration
5,244
4,544
(700)
0
1.2.10 Marine and coastal grants programs
5,547
4,000
(1,547)
6,958
1.2.11 Administer Historic Shipwrecks grants
677
84
(593)
425
Sub-total Output Group 1.2
38,282
20,019
(18,263)
66,058
Output Group 1.3 - Agreements / arrangements / policies / plans
1.3.1 Regional forest agreements
3,217
7,627
4,410
0
1.3.2 Environment protection codes and agreements
2,415
5,884
3,469
5,261
1.3.3 Environment Australia agreement with the Australian Greenhouse Office
21,775
21,791
16
0
1.3.4 Marine protection codes and agreements
704
936
232
0
1.3.5 Management arrangements for World Heritage properties
911
703
(208)
499
1.3.6 National Heritage Places strategy
153
191
38
0
1.3.7 National system of marine protected areas
2,128
1,617
(511)
-
1.3.8 Australia's Oceans Policy
10,165
3,531
(6,634)
0
1.3.9 Biodiversity Cooperative Government/industry conservation agreements
327
3,179
2,852
605
1.3.10 Cooperative Government/industry conservation agreements for marine conservation
70
71
1
0
1.3.11 Ready response capability and strategy for introduced marine pests
175
38
(137)
0
1.3.12 Environmental Science Coordination
181
323
142
0
**** National Oceans Office - Regional Marine Plans
0
0
0
7,543
**** National marine and Coastal Conservation Strategies
0
0
0
892
**** Provision of corporate services to portfolio agencies
0
0
0
5,842
**** Director of National Parks
0
0
0
48,344
Sub-total Output Group 1.3
42,221
45,891
3,670
68,986
Output Group 1.4 - Participation in international issues
1.4.1 International forest policy reform
919
1,211
292
1,443
1.4.2 Input to international activities on environment protection
2,443
2,436
(7)
2,320
1.4.3 Marine environment protection international obligations (subsumed by 1.4.7)
0
0
0
0
1.4.4 International obligations - World Heritage
744
650
(94)
660
1.4.5 Biodiversity international obligations
1,272
251
(1,021)
1,027
1.4.6 Intergovernmental and international liaison and coordination
1,884
2,112
228
1,368
1.4.7 International marine representation
1,005
699
(306)
448
1.4.8 International Environmental Science Forums
181
284
103
0
1.4.9 Supervising Scientist participation in International Environmental Science Forums
478
466
(12)
463
Sub-total Output Group 1.4
8,926
8,109
(817)
7,729
Output Group 1.5 - Information / databases / education
1.5.1 Environmental Resources Information Network
3,528
3,461
(67)
3,339
1.5.2 Environment protection databases and information tools
6,499
6,480
(19)
2,883
1.5.3 Community education campaign for World Heritage and National Estate
268
97
(171)
80
1.5.4 Knowledge generation and dissemination
2,198
3,210
1,012
1,923
1.5.5 Marine and coastal community education
324
319
(5)
437
1.5.6 Supervising Scientist information dissemination
865
963
98
903
Sub-total Output Group 1.5
13,682
14,530
848
9,565
Output Group 1.6 - Legislation / regulation / standards
1.6.1 Commonwealth environment legislation reform
1,834
2,292
458
0
1.6.2 Environment protection standards and legislation
2,729
2,720
(9)
1,770
1.6.3 Marine environment protection standards and legislation - Sea dumping and ship based pollution
1,241
1,533
292
0
1.6.4 New heritage places legislation
93
834
741
20
1.6.5 Environmental remediation and regulation
1,232
1,428
196
833
**** Implementation of Marine components of Legislation
0
0
0
1,914
**** Administer indigenous heritage legislation
0
0
0
222
**** Administer historic shipwrecks legislation
0
0
0
24
**** Regulation of Wildlife trade
0
0
0
2,235
Sub-total Output Group 1.6
7,129
8,807
1,678
7,018
Output Group 1.7 - Assessments and research
1.7.1 Environment protection assessments and research
8,187
8,163
(24)
8,755
1.7.2 World Heritage assessments and nominations
20
183
163
50
1.7.3 Research and assessments
4,899
5,003
104
4,883
**** Marine Protected Areas - pre-declared activities
0
0
0
461
Sub-total Output Group 1.7
13,106
13,349
243
14,149
TOTAL PRICE OF DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS
151,451
136,462
(14,989)
197,593
Revenue from Government (Appropriation) for Departmental Outputs
124,481
-
-
180,507
Revenue from other Sources
26,970
-
-
17,086
TOTAL FOR OUTCOME 1
(Total Price of Outputs and Administered Expenses)
510,943
465,843
(45,100)
620,991
1999-00
2000-01
DEPARTMENTAL STAFF YEARS (number)
880.9
868.5
(261.0)***
(261.0)***

* Full-year budget, including additional estimates
** Budget prior to additional estimates
*** Staff seconded to the Director of National Parks not included in departmental staff numbers
**** New outputs for 2000-01 - Refer Portfolio Budget Statements 2000-01

OUTCOME 2 - METEOROLOGY
(1) Budget*
1999-2000
$'000
(2) Actual
expenses
1999-2000
$'000
Variation
(col (2)
less (1))
$'000
Budget**
2000-01
$'000
ADMINISTERED EXPENSES
(including third party outputs)
Accrual adjustments
25
9
(16)
25
PRICE OF DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS
Output Group 2.1 - Monitoring and prediction
122,829
127,192
4,363
130,942
Sub-total Output Group 2.1
122,829
127,192
4,363
130,942
Output Group 2.2 - Research
9,938
10,220
282
9,463
Sub-total Output Group 2.2
9,938
10,220
282
9,463
Output Group 2.3 - Services
62,637
63,039
402
60,001
Sub-total Output Group 2.3
62,637
63,039
402
60,001
Output Group 2.4 - International Meteorological Activities
2,486
2,427
(59)
2,355
Sub-total Output Group 2.4
2,486
2,427
(59)
2,355
TOTAL PRICE OF DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS
197,890
202,878
4,988
202,761
Revenue from Government (Appropriation) for Departmental Outputs
180,096
-
-
188,681
Revenue from other Sources
17,794
-
-
14,080
TOTAL FOR OUTCOME 2
(Total price of Outputs and Administered Expenses)
197,915
202,887
4,972
202,786
1999-2000
2000-01
STAFF YEARS (number)
1,413.7
1,420.0

* Full-year budget, including additional estimates
** Budget prior to additional estimates

 

OUTCOME 3 - ANTARCTIC
(1) Budget*
1999-2000
$'000
(2) Actual
expenses
1999-2000
$'000
Variation
(col (2)
less (1))
$'000
Budget**
2000-01
$'000
ADMINISTERED EXPENSES
(including third party outputs)
Appropriation Bill 1 Grant payments
Antarctic Science Advisory Committee
Grants Scheme
570
566
-4
0
PRICE OF DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS
Output Group 3.1 - Influence in Antarctic
Treaty System
21,885
22,006
121
15,858
Sub-total Output Group 3.1
21,885
22,006
121
15,858
Output Group 3.2 - Protection of Antarctic Environment
21,107
21,224
117
40,531
Sub-total Output Group 3.2
21,107
21,224
117
40,531
Output Group 3.3 - Understanding Global Climate System
30,386
30,554
168
24,237
Sub-total Output Group 3.3
30,386
30,554
168
24,237
Output Group 3.4 - Science of practical, economic or national significance
24,390
24,524
134
19,685
Sub-total Output Group 3.4
24,390
24,524
134
19,685
TOTAL PRICE OF DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS
97,768
98,308
540
100,311
Revenue from Government (Appropriation) for Departmental Outputs
93,926
-
-
97,916
Revenue from other Sources
3,842
-
-
2,395
TOTAL FOR OUTCOME 3
(Total Price of Outputs and Administered Expenses)
98,338
98,874
536
100,311
1999-2000
2000-01
STAFF YEARS (number)
338.5
343.0
* Full-year budget, including additional estimates
** Budget prior to additional estimates

Corporate governance

Environment Australia has an evolving corporate governance regime which emphasises the need for appropriate internal controls as well as continuing adherence to externally driven governance principles. Environment Australia began a range of activities in line with the changing nature of the organisation and to keep pace with emerging requirements. The major activities were:

Environment Australia has a range of internal and external planning and review mechanisms:

Internal audit services are supplied by the department's Programme Evaluation and Audit Unit, augmented by contracted audit services. This unit reports to the Programme Evaluation and Audit Committee. This committee is assisted by a sub-committee, the Performance Improvement Committee, which considers audits and evaluations in more detail.

Audit planning is based on an analysis of the department's critical success factors, key processes and outputs. In consultation with senior management, those areas with higher risk or more significance are identified. The Programme Evaluation and Audit Committee, whose membership includes senior Environment Australia executives and an external member, considers these potential audits, and sets the annual audit plan. In this way, the audit plan is aligned with the department's corporate and business planning strategies.

Audit reports identify risks and the resulting recommendations are accompanied by management responses. The audit reports are considered by the audit committees, which may call for additional action to address the risks identified.

Fraud risks are addressed through the Fraud Control Sub-committee, which also reports to the Programme Evaluation and Audit Committee. A departmental fraud risk assessment is nearing completion, and will be followed by a revised fraud control plan.

Names of senior executives and their responsibilities

Senior executives in Environment Australia are the Secretary, the Group Heads and the Directors of the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Antarctic Division as shown in the organisation chart.

Senior management committees and their roles

Senior Management Committees in Environment Australia are:

Management of significant financial risk

Environment Australia has in place a control structure for the effective assessment and management of risk. This is underpinned by a Chief Executive instruction which requires that risk management techniques and principles be applied in the planning, administration and delivery of programmes. Supporting guidelines provide the procedural enablers for identifying, quantifying and managing risks to reduce their potential impact to acceptable levels.

Environment Australia considers that managing risk is everyone's business and that logical and systematic processes should be applied.

The department's Programme Evaluation and Audit Unit has a role in promoting, training and reporting on risk management.

The insurable risks of Environment Australia are identified annually as part of the Comcover insurance renewal process. Comcover is the Commonwealth's self-insurance arm. The department has developed procedures to provide for the reporting of actual and potential Comcover claims and for half-yearly reporting to Comcover. No claims relating to insured risks were made under the department's Comcover policy in 1999-2000.

In relation to the risks associated with injury to staff, Environment Australia is covered by Comcare, the Commonwealth's workforce insurance arm. As with Comcover, Environment Australia pays an annual premium to Comcare. Actions taken to reduce the risks of claims include the maintenance of the Occupational Health and Safety Unit within the People Management Branch. This unit disseminates information to staff on occupational health and safety issues and risks, conducts and coordinates workplace assessments to identify and remove or reduce risks, and provides rehabilitation case management to injured workers. In addition, staff are provided with occupational health and safety awareness through orientation and other training programmes. There is also an occupational health and safety committee, and a network of health and safety representatives to assist in identifying and dealing with risks in the workplace.

Ethical standards

The department's commitment to ethical standards are set out in the Environment Australia corporate plan which states that Environment Australia shares the ethical values of the Australian Public Service and will act honestly, ethically, and lawfully, respecting confidence and being frank and forthright in our advice. This approach is further developed under the strategies for people management within the corporate plan.

Environment Australia's Service Charter provides information to the public about rights and entitlements, and the process for gaining access to them. In its dealings with clients, Environment Australia is committed to acting ethically with integrity, responsiveness, and responsibility.

Environment Australia has a code of conduct in place which has been placed on the intranet for the information of all staff. The department has provided copies of the Australian Public Service values and code of conduct to every staff member through insertion in each member's pay advice envelope. All new employees are also given copies of the Environment Australia code of conduct, and the issue is a topic covered in the orientation programme. The department has a policy on the receipt of gifts and other benefits which is contained in the code of conduct.

In addition Environment Australia has developed the comprehensive Guidelines for the Use of Information Technology Facilities which are available on the intranet for all staff and access to the information technology system which draws the attention of users to the guidelines and warns against inappropriate use.

The department has instituted a corporately funded training programme in contract management. This programme addresses, inter alia, the issue of standards of behaviour in dealings with contractors and general probity and ethical issues in contract management.

Whistleblowing allegations are treated seriously and investigated in accordance with the department's interim whistleblower policy.

Staff of the Bureau of Meteorology have been made aware of the new Australian Public Service values and code of conduct through their inclusion in the certified agreement, which was distributed to all employees. A staff notice making reference to the values and code was distributed to all personnel on 3 April 2000. Web access to the new legislation, including the code and values, has also been provided. The Bureau is represented on the Public Service Merit Protection Commission's Performance and Conduct Network, and proceedings of meetings are minuted and distributed to relevant staff. The Bureau of Meteorology Certified Agreement 2000-2001 refers to the Bureau's procedural requirements for determining whether an employee has breached the code of conduct. These are currently in advanced draft form, but essentially conform to the template provided by the Public Service Merit Protection Commission in its Advice No. 5: Breaches of the Code of Conduct. Internal Bureau training courses have been delivered to groups of staff on the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct.

The Bureau has issued a number of staff notices addressing the issue of maintaining ethical standards in the use of electronic communication. A staff notice setting out the Bureau's policy on the receipt of gifts and other benefits and on dealings with contractors has been issued.

The Bureau's service charter informs the community of the services it provides, and gives assurances in relation to integrity, quality, responsiveness and accessibility.

The Australian Antarctic Division's Statement of Purpose and Values outlines its responsibilities, purpose and shared values. The Australian Antarctic Division recognises that in doing their job and making decisions, employees will uphold the laws of Australia and the ethical values of the Australian Public Service. Australian Antarctic Division employees accept professional responsibility for their part in pursuing the corporate goals and personal responsibility for their actions. In performing its functions, the organisation strives for the highest corporate standards in ethics, probity and accountability; protects the rights of its employees and provides a cooperative, supportive, non-discriminatory and openly consultative working environment.

The Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions Code of Personal Behaviour establishes standards of personal behaviour which contribute to morale, teamwork and cooperation, and, ultimately, successful expeditions. The code also seeks to promote and enhance the image of Australia's Antarctic Programme. All expedition personnel are provided with a copy of this code and compliance is a condition for participation in Australia's Antarctic Programme. This code and a summary of the Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct are included in the Australian Antarctic Division Certified Agreement 1998-2000.

The Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct was issued to all Australian Antarctic Division employees.

Performance against the service charter

The Environment Australia Service Charter was implemented on 1 July 1998 and covers all clients outside the department. The charter is posted on the intranet for staff, and on the Internet for clients.

The charter sets out the standards of service clients can expect from Environment Australia, their rights and responsibilities and how to find out more about the department. The charter applies to everyone who has contact with Environment Australia, including other government agencies, community organisations, industry and members of the public.

A survey was undertaken to check clients' perceptions of Environment Australia's adherence to the 10 standards listed in the departmental charter:

The results showed that all standards were met but one. Only 50 per cent of those surveyed were satisfied that Environment Australia reached the standard on providing reasonable time to comment on policy proposals.

Few complaints were received by Environment Australia. Most complaints received referred to national parks matters. Those complaints have been used to enhance future service.

By July 2001, the current charter will be three years old and Environment Australia will conduct an external review to update the charter.

External Scrutiny

Judicial decisions

Decisions of courts or tribunals that significantly affected the operation of the department or which in the future could significantly affect the operation of the department are listed below.

Newcrest Mining (Western Australia) Limited and BHP Minerals Limited v the Commonwealth of Australia and the Director of National Parks and Wildlife

In August 1997, the High Court of Australia found that the declarations of Stage 3 Kakadu National Park in 1987, 1989 and 1991 were technically invalid with respect to 23 small areas in the south-east of the park covered by existing mineral leases held by the Newcrest group of companies. The reason for this decision was that the declaration over these areas had, with the absolute prohibition on mining activities in Kakadu under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975, effected an acquisition of property without payment of just terms compensation, as required by the Australian Constitution.

The Minister has indicated that the lease areas should be incorporated within the park and that the Government will address the issue of appropriate compensation. The Government has entered a dialogue with mining company representatives about the matter. The process was still underway as at 30 June 2000.

Randwick and Woollahra Councils v Minister for the Environment and others

Botany Council v Minister for Transport and Regional Development, Minister for the Environment and others

Woollahra, Randwick and Botany Councils made applications to the Federal Court for a review of the decision of the Minister not to direct an environmental impact statement or a public environment report in regard to the Long-Term Operating Plan for Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, and related decisions by the Minister for Transport and Regional Development. Botany Council also sought an injunction against the Minister for Transport under the Judiciary Act to stop him acting on the basis of the decision of the Minister for the Environment. Justice Finn dismissed the applications on 3 November 1998. Costs were awarded to the Commonwealth on 3 February 1999.

Botany, Randwick and Woollahra Councils appealed the judgement. The Botany appeal was essentially for a review of the whole decision. The Randwick appeal focused on a number of matters of law including the status of the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Administrative Procedures. The appeal was heard on 18 and 19 February 1999 by Black CJ, Weinberg J and Lee J. On 4 November 1999 the Federal Court full bench dismissed with costs to the Commonwealth appeals by Botany, Randwick and Woollahra Councils against the Minister's decisions on the Long-Term Operating Plan for Sydney Airport.

Botany Council v the Minister for the Environment

Botany Council applied to the Federal Court for review of the decision of the Minister for the Environment to issue an exemption in accordance with the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Administrative Procedures in regard to take-offs to the north from runway 34R (third runway) at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. The action has been stood over for further directions.

Auditor-General reports

Parliamentary Committee reports

Comments by the Ombudsman

No formal reports were made.

 

Management of Human Resources

Legislation

The legislative framework governing the management of human resources underwent fundamental change with the implementation of the new Public Service Act in December 1999 - a major element in the Government's public service reform agenda. This impacted significantly on the workload in human resource management areas of Environment Australia.

Within a very compressed timeframe, the necessary changes for successful implementation of the new Act were arranged. The changes included reworking of policies, guidelines, practices and forms to suit new terminologies, changed responsibilities of agency heads (including employment powers), enhanced accountability and reporting requirements, revised delegations, increased emphasis and legislative backing for the expanded Australian Public Service Values and Code of Conduct, and new review processes for actions affecting employees.

Information sessions on the implications of the new Act and its practical effects on the workplace were conducted. These were supplemented with information and advice on bulletin boards.

Overall, the transition was implemented successfully, laying the groundwork for more effective human resource management in the department as employees become more familiar with the new framework and its operational reforms.

Implementation of the Australian Public Service human resource corporate reform and the continuous improvement agenda continued throughout the year. The more significant elements of these initiatives are detailed below.

Workforce planning, staff turnover and retention

During the year Environment Australia has made considerable progress in improving its workforce planning strategies to better align resources to the achievement of the business objectives of the organisation.

This involves continuous monitoring of workforce data, including staff retention and turnover, to identify trends and develop appropriate strategies in the areas of recruitment, remuneration and conditions, and staff development. Workforce analysis has contributed significantly to the development of strategies for the second Environment Australia Certified Agreement. An important element of the strategies was to ensure that Environment Australia employment conditions were at a level which would remain competitive in attracting and retaining appropriately qualified and skilled staff.

To a substantial degree, the Bureau of Meteorology has been able to attract and retain suitably qualified staff to maintain the capabilities required. At senior management levels, the use of Australian workplace agreements, including performance bonuses, for senior executive level employees and certain staff at executive level 2, is serving to attract and retain staff of appropriate calibre at those levels.

The Bureau of Meteorology Certified Agreement 2000-2001 has ensured that Bureau salaries and conditions of service have remained competitive with those of other public service agencies, so that there has been no evident staff leakage attributable to inter-agency salary or conditions inequities. Judicious outsourcing of some information technology and finance functions, where operationally effective to do so, has attracted suitable staff on fixed-term contracts. The work of the Bureau's Research Centre has been enriched by a steady stream of visiting scientists on negotiated short-term contracts or seconded from other institutions for varying periods of time.

Training and development

Environment Australia continued to place a high priority on improving the effectiveness of its approach to people management. The Senior Officer Leadership Programme was opened to executive level 1 officers with a series of half-day seminars conducted during the year.

A major effort was made to develop a new performance management system to cover all non-senior executive service employees. The Performance and Development Scheme was designed and successfully trialled in two groups. The scheme features team planning, individual performance agreements and development plans, feedback and performance assessment. The scheme aims to foster a high performance culture by:

Environment Australia continued its commitment to the Investors in People programme. A diagnostic report was considered by the Executive and was followed by a series of staff discussion groups. An action plan was developed to address performance gaps against the Investors in People standards. The Executive aims to achieve accreditation by 1 October 2001. Many of the activities identified in the action plan have been implemented. Environment Australia is using the Investors in People programme to:

There was significant progress on the Investors in People programme to improve the effectiveness of learning and development. Priority programmes were provided during the financial year to support major changes within the agency. These included:

In addition a series of information sessions on the new Public Service Act, the role of human resources in the department and the development of the new certified agreement were conducted for all staff.

Twenty graduates started with Environment Australia in January 2000 to participate in a year-long development programme consisting of three work placements and specialised training. The recruitment campaign for the 2001 graduate intake is underway.

Senior executive staff at all band levels participated in the development programmes offered by the Public Service and Merit Protection Commission.

The department also continued to support staff academic development through the study support scheme.

The Bureau of Meteorology meets its specific professional and technical needs by training its meteorologists and technical officers. Complementing this, the Bureau of Meteorology has also concentrated on development of high calibre staff, so as to create pools of competent personnel throughout the organisation capable of performing duties at higher levels.

Development has been achieved through a range of activities including the assignment of higher duties and taking advantage of cross-service and outside-of-service development opportunities (including international placement with, for example, the World Meteorological Organization). It was ensured that staff receive training that is adequate and appropriate to their developmental needs.

High performers are identified through performance appraisal and formal and informal supervisor reports, and every effort is made to assist these staff to achieve their full career potential within the Bureau.

In the Australian Antarctic Division, the performance management review systems provide the key mechanisms for supervisors and employees to identify priorities and strategies for future development. Negotiations leading to the development of the draft Australian Antarctic Division Certified Agreement 2000-2002 have included an increased recognition of learning and development, and performance appraisal. The underlying philosophy of these initiatives is to promote a performance and learning culture, and to value and reward flexibility and skill development. Evaluation of learning and development initiatives remains largely an issue for the various performance review processes within the Australian Antarctic Division. Closer alignment between performance and learning throughout the Australian Antarctic Division should enhance existing evaluation arrangements.

Key training and development strategies for the year have included an ongoing commitment to management development, plus dedicated training for information technology applications, media skills, project management and a range of short courses and conferences designed to address individual's needs.

During the year, a total of six Australian Antarctic Division employees, including three women, attended Monash Mount Eliza Business School programmes in leadership, general management and strategic resources management. Participants have reported positively about their experiences and the personal insights that these intensive programmes can offer. Typically, they have shown a willingness to share their experiences with fellow employees and contribute to the Australian Antarctic Division's corporate goals within their branch and beyond. A major outcome of these programmes is that the Australian Antarctic Division has more than 30 employees across all branches with a shared commitment to contemporary management principles. This core group represents an important resource in progressing initiatives through forums such as the Management Planning and Action Group.

Impact and features of certified agreements and Australian workplace agreements

Development of the policy framework and subsequent negotiations for the second round of Australian workplace agreements for all senior executive staff in Environment Australia (including the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Antarctic Division) were completed. The second round workplace agreements build on the principles established for the initial senior executive agreements:

The workplace agreements therefore continued the process of aligning individual effort to the core business of the organisation to achieve programme objectives.

Work to extend the range of staff covered by workplace agreements also continued with development work on a framework for agreements to be offered to all executive level 1 and 2 employees in Environment Australia completed and receiving Executive endorsement. Implementation is planned in the first quarter of the next year.

Continued implementation of the Environment Australia Certified Agreement 1998-99 contributed significantly to the alignment of people management policies to the core business of the organisation to achieve programme objectives. The agreement is designed to improve the agency's efficiency, effectiveness and productivity and enhance the quality of the working lives of its staff.

Major milestones in implementation during the year included:

During the year a second certified agreement for Environment Australia was developed, negotiated and finalised. The second agreement builds on the achievements of the first with emphasis on a competitive and streamlined remuneration and employment conditions package enabling employees to balance work and personal responsibilities and with the implementation of the new Performance and Development Scheme designed to contribute significantly to the department's productivity.

The Bureau of Meteorology's Certified Agreement 2000-2001 was developed and negotiated to finality, receiving certification from the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in April.

A number of specific innovations included in the Bureau's second certified agreement are expected to reap productivity and efficiency benefits. Initiatives include streamlining of human resource management practices and procedures, revised performance management arrangements, and changes in the manner in which various Bureau programmes operate. A key element in all cases is increased usage of evolving technology to provide operational efficiencies that will lead to greater productivity.

The Australian Antarctic Division's Certified Agreement 1998-2000 recognised that training and development can enhance employees' potential to achieve organisational goals and meet career aspirations. The division is committed to development activities that assist employees to maintain professional qualifications and support workplace change. Employees can access a range of activities designed to meet identified outcomes, including off the job training, work placements and formal study.

Work on developing and negotiating the second Australian Antarctic Division Certified Agreement is nearly finished and the new agreement will be put to the vote in the near future.

People Management Business Plan

People management issues are managed within the context of the department's Annual People Management Business Plan. The plan reflects the role of corporate people management as:

The Environment Australia Executive considers people management issues on a regular basis and makes key decisions in relation to the people management policy framework, policies, priorities and resource allocation. An Investors in People committee, comprising senior executives and key stakeholders, oversees Environment Australia's Investors in People programme. People management issues are also discussed at the monthly consultative committee meeting.

Environment Australia has evolved a people management business model where policies and programmes are designed to:

Outcomes

Outcomes achieved for different elements of the people management function are listed below.

Employment conditions and remuneration

Performance and development

Personnel services

Information technology outsourcing

Market testing of corporate services

Remuneration for senior executive service employees

Environment Australia has a remuneration strategy for its employees in the senior executive service which is based on the following set of principles:

Almost all Environment Australia's senior executives have Australian workplace agreements. senior executive service remuneration comprises base pay, performance pay and other benefits, such as a maintained vehicle. The Secretary reviews the remuneration package. The current workplace agreement for senior executives has a notional expiry date of December 2000.

Purchasing

The principles included in the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines are incorporated into the department's procedural rules for procurement, which are distributed throughout the department via the intranet.

The department also has a Procurement Review Board which ensures that all aspects of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines, and the department's procurement requirements, are adequately met before the department enters into any commitment or contract over $30 000.

The Bureau has issued instructions in relation to the procurement of goods and services that oblige procurement staff to adhere to the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. In addition, senior procurement staff have been appointed to oversee and exercise delegations to the extent necessary to ensure compliance. Internal documents have been created to enable effective control and management of the process.

Australian Antarctic Division purchasing procedures have been designed to conform with the core policies and principles of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines.

Assets Management

During the year the department focused on producing a comprehensive set of asset management guidelines covering Environment Australia's Canberra-based operations, the Australian Antarctic Division and the Bureau of Meteorology. These guidelines are close to finalisation and will improve consistency of treatment of assets across the diverse operating environments of these three management units.

In late June the department transferred its Canberra-based information technology assets to Ipex, the new Group 8 service provider for a number of Commonwealth agencies including Environment Australia. The contract followed a comprehensive process of assessment, overseen by the Office of Asset Sales and Information Technology, which ensured that the Commonwealth was receiving best value for money under the contract.

Consultants, Competitive Tendering and Contracting

Consultancy services

The total number of consultants engaged by Environment Australia was 495, at a cost of $13 589 651.

The most common reasons to engage consultants were the need for specialised, technical and professional skills or knowledge and the need for work to be conducted independently.

The production of technical reports, handbooks and guidelines, feasibility studies and the development of databases were among the categories for which consultants were engaged during the year.

Details of consultancies are available on Environment Australia's Internet site at www.environment.gov.au/publications.html

Competitive tendering and contracting

The department commenced a market testing programme for the range of corporate services in early 2000 and a decision on the future provision of services is expected to be made in 2000-2001.

The department is a member of the Group 8 information technology contract with Ipex. This contract has a value of $130 million over five years, covers approximately 7 500 desktops across seven Commonwealth agencies and will realise some $40 million in savings for the Commonwealth.

For the financial year ending 30 June 2000 the Bureau of Meteorology did not issue any contracts in excess
of $100  000.

For the financial year ending 30 June 2000 the Australian Antarctic Division did not issue contracts in excess
of $100  000.

Department of the Environment and Heritage Consultancy Services 1999-2000

This information is produced under the Requirements for Departmental Annual Reports, updated May 2000.

The total number of consultants hired by the department was 495 at a cost of $13 589 651.

The department hired consultants where specialist, technical and professional skills or knowledge were needed or where internal resources were not available. Consultants were typically engaged to produce technical reports and handbooks, investigate issues, carry out reviews and evaluations, and provide independent advice.

Consultants are selected in accordance with the policies and principles detailed in the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. Further details are as follows.

Environment Australia

The principles included in the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines are incorporated into the department's procedural rules for procurement, which are distributed throughout the department via the intranet.

The department also has a Procurement Review Board which ensures that all aspects of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines, and the department's procurement requirements, are adequately met before the department enters into any commitment or contract over $30 000.

Bureau of Meteorology

The Bureau has issued instructions in relation to the procurement of goods and services that oblige procurement staff to adhere to the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines. In addition, senior procurement staff have been appointed to oversee and exercise delegations to the extent necessary to ensure compliance. Internal documents have been created to enable effective control and management of the process.

Australian Antarctic Division

Australian Antarctic Division purchasing procedures have been designed to conform with the core policies and principles of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines.