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The Commonwealth's Environment Expenditure 1997-98
Statement by Senator The Honourable Robert Hill
Minister for the Environment
Environment Australia 1997
Threats to the atmosphere include the global problems of climate change and ozone depletion, and the regional and local problem of air pollution. The Government is acting to address these problems through a range of international and national activities. These activities include participation in international negotiations, overseas development cooperation, community and industry consultation, the funding of scientific research and specific programmes to implement strategic policy goals.
Through these measures, the Government seeks to contribute to long term protection of the atmosphere as a key element of sustainable development, while also supporting social and economic goals. The Government's expenditure on atmospheric protection programmes is outlined in Table 7.1.
Table 7.1: Atmosphere - New Measures and Programme and Tax Expenditure Estimates
Programme and tax expenditure estimates include the effect of new measures.
- denotes nil; 0 denotes zero; na denotes not available
(a) For 2001-02 and six year total expenditure see Table 1.3.
(b) These are total Australian contributions to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) (see Ch. 2). Approximately 40 per cent of GEF funds are used for climate change activities and 10 per cent for ozone related activities. Figures for 1998-99 onwards do not include future replenishments as they have not yet been determined.
(c) The alternative fuels excise exemption has environmental, energy security and terms of trade objectives. The figures for the exemption are estimated revenue foregone. These are updated estimates that differ from those published in Tax Expenditures Statement 1995-96 mainly because they are based on the February 1997 ABARE projections of fuel use while those in the Statement are based on the February 1995 estimates.
(d) The figure for 1999-2000 does not include future replenishments as they have not yet been determined.
(e) From 1997-98 expenditure will be higher than shown, following establishment of an industry committee to advise on expenditure priorities.
(f) DASCEM is to be sold by 1 July 1997 but on the basis that the purchaser continue to perform DASCEM's community service obligation (CSO) activities and receive funding for these from the Commonwealth.
(g) This is the total of the figures against indented descriptions below. For 1996-97 a breakdown of the total is not available.
(h) Estimates of appropriation based Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) expenditure attributable to atmospheric, oceanographic and hydrological monitoring, research and service provision in support of environmental objectives. These figures are included in the total BoM expenditure figures in Table 2.1.
The Government regards climate change as one of the most important international environmental issues. Australia has a dual vulnerability to climate change. We are vulnerable to environmental and economic impacts related to climate change itself, as well as to the impacts of response measures developed to mitigate climate change.
The Government has in place a range of programmes that address international and domestic obligations to address greenhouse gas emissions. They fall under the general categories of international, domestic response and scientific assessment.
The Government takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that Australia makes a fair contribution to global action on climate change. Australia is a Party to the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change, which provides the international focus for action to protect the global climate system. The Convention's ultimate objective is to stabilise 'greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system'.
The Government's climate change policies are geared to ensure that Australia plays an active and constructive role in ongoing negotiations under the Convention. The Commonwealth's key objective is to ensure that the Convention and related instruments function as effective instruments to reduce the threat of climate change, while protecting Australia's national interests.
The Commonwealth Government is undertaking the following international activities relating to Convention implementation:
In the Berlin Mandate negotiations, the Government is working to ensure that the outcome is fair, achievable and durable. To this end, Australia has developed a differentiation proposal aimed at ensuring that international efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases result in similar economic impacts on countries undertaking substantive commitments. The development of the differentiation proposal is underpinned by detailed economic and technical research and analysis.
As an extension of the national climate change science programme, Australia makes a significant contribution to the international scientific effort. Australian scientists are active contributors to the independent IPCC, which acts as the authoritative international body to assess the state of knowledge on climate change. The assessments by the IPCC are a key input to the development of climate change policy in the international and national spheres. Australia also contributes actively to the IPCC's work on the socio economic aspects of climate change.
Australia plays a key role in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Energy Working Group in promoting more efficient and sustainable development of regional energy resources and use in the APEC economies. This is implemented through a wide range of actions covering: trade liberalisation; technology research and development; analysis of the regulation of emissions of oxides of sulphur and nitrogen and particulate emissions from power stations; and work on energy infrastructure development and energy efficiency measures.
International Development Cooperation
Greenhouse gas emissions are increasing rapidly in developing countries. Total developing countries' emissions are expected to increase 50 to 100 per cent above 1990 levels by 2010, and emissions from the Asia Pacific developing countries may equal those from the OECD countries by 2015.
A review by AusAID in 1996 identified fifty Australian overseas aid projects, worth a total of $90 million, which are helping address increasing greenhouse emissions in developing countries (see Box 7.1). Since that review, the addition of two large rural solar power supply projects in Indonesia and the Philippines, with a total aid contribution of $27 million, has significantly boosted support for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Other projects with greenhouse benefits include institutional strengthening, the monitoring of climate and sea level, and practical technology transfer in areas such as energy efficiency, solar energy, the development and maintenance of sinks, and cleaner production. In addition, the aid programme will continue to commission greenhouse gas assessments for all large projects judged as having major greenhouse gas implications.
|Box 7.1: Overseas Aid Projects
The Government is providing funding for the installation of 1,000 solar powered electricity systems in seven of the poorest provinces in the southern Philippines. These systems will be installed in nearly 400 villages and will supply electricity for health centres, water pumps, schools and community halls, bringing benefits to about 1 million people. Australia is contributing $13 million over three years to 1999 for the solar powered equipment and other installation and training costs.
Australia is providing $13.5 million over a 10 year period to the year 2000 to monitor sea level and climate change throughout the South Pacific. This activity includes assisting Pacific Island Countries to analyse the data and develop models for vulnerability studies and environmental management plans.
In China, Australia has provided $2.6 million to enable a mining machinery plant to install a coal gasification factory to provide a more efficient form of fuel for its furnaces.
National Greenhouse Response
In 1992, all Australian governments adopted a National Greenhouse Response Strategy. This Strategy has provided the basis for Australian governments to work together on greenhouse issues and, in particular, to implement international commitments under the Climate Change Convention. Australian governments are now participating in the development of a revised and enhanced national greenhouse strategy for consideration by mid 1997.
The National Greenhouse Strategy, due to be finalised in June 1997, will strengthen Australia's capacity to meet international commitments and play a constructive role in the mitigation of climate change. It will provide fresh impetus for action by governments, industry and other stakeholder groups and the broader community and set directions for the years ahead. The strategy will emphasise partnerships involving the government, key stakeholders and the broader community; a key element in an effective response to climate change.
The Climate Change Programme, with funding of $3.3 million in 1997-98, plays a major role in the development of Commonwealth, national and international policies on climate change, including the Framework Convention on Climate Change and development of the 1997 National Greenhouse Strategy. The programme also coordinates a variety of research on climate change impacts and adaptation, and preparation of Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, as detailed below. Further, the programme provides a focal point for Australia's input to the IPCC.
The Government has responded to the need for greenhouse gas emission mitigation through the following commitments and programmes.
Greenhouse Challenge Programme
The Greenhouse Challenge Programme provides $2.4 million per annum from 1997-98 for the development of cooperative agreements with industry to abate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a major plank of the Government's greenhouse response that cooperative agreements can deliver significant emissions abatement.
Box 7.2: Greenhouse Challenge Programme Actions
The Government is committed to a range of actions to accelerate industry participation in the Greenhouse Challenge Programme. These include:
As at May 1997, the Government has signed cooperative agreements with thirty companies and twelve industry associations, reflecting the breadth of industry support for the programme. These agreements have identified over 560 actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The programme currently captures the greatest emitters in the energy and industrial sectors. The companies which have signed agreements account for 15 per cent of Australian total greenhouse gas emissions and over 46 per cent of emissions from the industrial sector. The actions of these companies are estimated to reduce their emissions by 16 million tonnes by the year 2000 relative to current practices.
The Government is currently reviewing guidelines covering the operation of its buildings, its purchasing of appliances and office equipment, and its accountability and reporting arrangements to ensure that energy efficiency is maximised throughout its operations.
Box 7.3: Government Best Practice Guide
The Government has released a practical document providing advice and detailed case studies of experiences in a number of Australian Public Service (APS) agencies which have implemented environmental efficiency initiatives. This guide will help improve environmental performance and will encourage best practice in greenhouse gas emissions reduction. A network, APS-EcoNet, will also provide practitioners (mainly drawn from corporate management service areas) with a means of sharing best practice experience and documenting achievements.
The Government has been working with the States, Territories and other stakeholders to finalise reforms to the national electricity and gas markets. These reforms will promote the more efficient supply and use of energy and facilitate the development of energy service industries, with a focus on enhanced energy efficiency across all sectors. Ongoing monitoring of the market reform process will ensure that potential economic and environmental outcomes are realised.
Commonwealth energy programmes have been rationalised through new measures in this Budget. This rationalisation is appropriate in light of changes in the energy sector in recent years and the Commonwealth's view of the appropriate role for government.
Funding to the National Energy Efficiency Programme (NEEP) has been reduced by $11 million over four years from 1997-98, as a consequence of increased state and local government activities and outcomes achieved through energy market reforms. This measure focuses the Commonwealth's investment in energy programmes on activities which have national outcomes and a clearly defined Commonwealth role.
The Government will provide $1.9 million in 1997-98 to fund NEEP. The programme aims to improve the efficiency of energy use in Australia, both to increase industry productivity and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The programme, in cooperation with the States, delivers a wide range of information and advisory products, policy advice, industry codes, and minimum energy performance standards and labelling.
The Energy Research and Development Cooperation (ERDC) has been wound up at a saving of $37 million over four years from 1997-98. Consistent with the Government's review of the appropriateness of Commonwealth activities, the need for direct Commonwealth investment in energy research and development through the ERDC has been overtaken by changes in the energy sector (see Ch. 1).
A key element of the Government's strategy for optimising the economic and environmental outcomes from energy supply and use in Australia is the development of a White Paper on Sustainable Energy Policy. The White Paper will set out a framework for integrating environmental, economic and social objectives over a twenty five year period. The Government sought community wide input to the development of the White Paper through the release of a Green Paper in late 1996.
|Box 7.4: Actions to Facilitate Environmentally Sound Energy Supply and Use
Support for the development of alternative and renewable energy sources is being progressed through:
Agriculture and Land Use
The Natural Heritage Trust will fund to the year 2001-02 a range of initiatives which will have significant greenhouse benefits (see Ch. 3, 4 and 5). For example, as plants accumulate carbon as they grow, large scale vegetation planting can play an important role in the reduction of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere. Enhancement of these greenhouse 'sinks' is an outcome that will be achieved through the National Vegetation Initiative and Farm Forestry Programmes.
Also, the Government provided $400,000 in 1996-97 for a study on reducing methane emissions from intensive agriculture through livestock waste treatment and other means, and for dissemination of the results of the study to industry.
The Government provides a fuel excise exemption for the alternative transport fuels of liquefied petroleum gas, compressed natural gas, ethanol and other alcohol blends. The cost to revenue in 1997-98 of this exemption is estimated to be $660 million. The objective for the establishment of the exemption was security of the national energy supply. While security has declined as an objective, it remains important. Some alternative transport fuels also have other benefits in terms of the balance of trade. The Government has continued the exemption also to encourage the further development and utilisation of more environmentally friendly transport fuel sources. The environmental benefits include: a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; a move to ecologically sustainable energy sources and waste reduction; reduced urban air pollution; and reduced land degradation, if plantation trees are used for ethanol production.
The Commonwealth is working cooperatively with State, Territory and local governments through ANZECC to develop effective waste minimisation programmes. In particular, the Government has fulfilled its election commitment to fund a Waste Minimisation Awareness Programme with a major focus on organic waste and reductions in greenhouse emissions (see Ch. 6).
Air Pollution in Major Cities Programme
The Australian community's greatest environmental concern, as reflected in a 1997 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey, is air pollution. The Government considers air quality, through its effects on human health and on the sustainability of our lifestyles and production methods, to be an important determining factor in the liveability of our cities.
The Government's primary air quality objective is to provide all Australians with equivalent protection from air pollution. It considers that this can best be achieved through the development of national air quality strategies and standards which minimise the adverse environmental impacts of air pollution.
With over sixty per cent of the Australian population living in cities, the Government's first priority is to reduce the impact of air pollution on urban areas. To this end, the Government is providing $16 million to the year 2000-01 from the Natural Heritage Trust to address air quality issues through its Air Pollution in Major Cities Programme. The Programme commenced in 1996-97 with the independent inquiry into urban air pollution in Australia and development of a National Environmental Protection Measure for ambient air quality.
Box 7.5: Inquiry into Urban Air Pollution in Australia
On 2 October 1996 the Commonwealth announced an independent inquiry into urban air pollution in Australia. The inquiry is being conducted on behalf of the Government by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. The inquiry is tasked with the identification of practical measures which can be taken by governments, industry and individuals to improve air quality in Australian towns and cities in the medium to long term. The public have been invited to make written submissions. The Academy is due to report to the Minister for the Environment in September 1997.
The Government is currently progressing a number of air quality initiatives. These initiatives will be complemented by additional programmes to be established in response to the findings of the Inquiry into Urban Air Pollution into Australia. Funding will be provided for any additional initiatives from the $16 million Air Pollution in Major Cities Programme.
Development of National Standards
A National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) for ambient air quality is being developed by the National Environment Protection Council. The measure will consist of mandatory standards and monitoring and reporting protocols for the six major pollutants to which the majority of Australians are exposed. The NEPM is the primary vehicle through which ambient air quality standards in Australia will be harmonised.
The Commonwealth works with the States and Territories to produce national standards for motor vehicle emissions. As motor vehicles remain the single most important source of air pollution in cities, the setting of tighter emission standards is a high priority for the Commonwealth. Reviews of the emission standards for both new petrol and diesel engines are currently under way.
A NEPM on diesel emissions is being developed, as a means of reducing the impact of diesel emissions on the health and amenity of the community. Diesel vehicles are a major and increasing source of emissions, particularly fine particles and nitrogen oxides, to the atmosphere. Evidence suggests that if emissions from diesel vehicles were not controlled, urban air quality problems associated with these emissions could be expected to increase.
Implementation of National Programmes to Meet National Air Quality Standards
The Government is committed to community education programmes. These include a woodsmoke campaign and Smogbusters, which focuses on motor vehicle emissions and the benefits of public transport.
Monitoring and Reporting
The Government is committed to harmonising air quality monitoring and reporting systems across Australia. This initiative is linked to State of the Environment reporting, and to the development of national ambient air quality standards. Comprehensive monitoring is considered an essential prerequisite for the effective targeting of air quality management initiatives.
The stratospheric ozone layer protects life on earth from harmful ultra violet radiation from the sun. Scientific research has shown that the ozone layer has been damaged by the release into the atmosphere of certain widely used ozone depleting chemicals. Although ozone depletion occurs over most of the globe, the most dramatic change occurs when an ozone 'hole' forms over Antarctica each spring.
The Commonwealth plays a leading role in ozone protection in the international arena, and has been influential in the development and implementation of cost effective mechanisms to ensure the phase out of ozone depleting substances by all countries.
The Commonwealth contributes to the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which supports the transfer of 'ozone friendly' technology to developing countries (see Ch. 2). The Commonwealth provided $10.8 million over the calender year period 1994 to 1996 to the Multilateral Fund and expects to contribute an additional $10.5 million over calender years 1997 to 1999. In addition, the Commonwealth contributes to the Global Environment Facility (see Ch. 2), which funds ozone related activities in former Eastern block countries. The Commonwealth also assists developing countries with their phase out efforts through focussed bilateral projects and through active participation in a regional network of government ozone units.
At the national level, the Government will continue to work with the States and Territories, industry and other stakeholders to develop and implement these programmes in line with Australia's international obligations under the Montreal Protocol. Australia's domestic phase out of ozone depleting substances meets and, in some cases with the agreement of industry, exceeds Montreal Protocol requirements.
The import, export and manufacture of the majority of ozone depleting chemicals have already been phased out with the exception of a very limited range of internationally approved essential uses. The Government's national ozone protection programmes are now largely concentrated on the phase out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and methyl bromide.
|Box 7.6: Ozone Protection Trust Fund
The costs of Australia's domestic phase out programme are partially met by a user pays system. The Government has established the Ozone Protection Trust Fund to hold funds raised through licence fees under the Ozone Protection Act 1989. A large portion of these fees are paid under licences for the import and manufacture of HCFCs and methyl bromide. The Trust Fund will reimburse the Commonwealth for expenditure on information and education programmes on the phase out of HCFCs and methyl bromide, and the monitoring and enforcement of the licensing scheme. An industry advisory committee will assist the Minister in determining priorities for expenditure from the Trust Fund. It is expected that the Trust Fund will receive approximately $500,000 per annum to 1998-99. From 1999-2000, this amount will gradually decrease as HCFCs and methyl bromide are progressively phased out in accordance with an agreed reduction programme.
Part of the total $600,000 provided by the Government in 1996-97 for ozone protection programmes (against ozone related activities and Ozone Protection Trust Fund expenditure in Table 7.1) is funding the development of a national methyl bromide response strategy and a national strategy for transition to CFC-free asthma treatments.
Methyl Bromide Response Strategy
Methyl bromide is an ozone depleting chemical which is used as a fumigant in some agricultural sectors, building and quarantine operations. To ensure that Australia can meet with minimal disruption its obligations under the Montreal Protocol to phase out this chemical, the Government is working with affected industry sectors to develop strategies for reducing methyl bromide use.
In February 1997, the Government released for public comment a draft Methyl Bromide Response Strategy. This Strategy sets an initial framework for a comprehensive national approach to addressing the challenges for methyl bromide users involved in reducing use and emissions of the substance.
National Strategy for CFC-free Asthma Treatments
CFC-free alternatives for use in metered dose inhalers (asthma puffers) are now starting to enter international markets. The Government has commenced consultations with the pharmaceutical industry, medical associations and other stakeholders to develop a national strategy to ensure a smooth transition to CFC-free asthma treatments in a way which will not compromise community health.
Box 7.7: The Dascem Halon Bank
The Commonwealth established the National Halon Bank in 1992 to collect, store, recycle and ultimately destroy excess halon. The Halon Bank has been operated by the Department of Administrative Services Centre for Environmental Management (DASCEM). In addition to its collection and storage functions, it assists customers to develop and implement management plans for the phase out of CFCs and halons. DASCEM is to be sold by 1 July 1997, but on the basis that the purchaser continue to perform its community service obligation activities and receive funding for these from the Commonwealth. Establishment of the Halon Bank and decommissioning of non-essential halon systems has ensured that unnecessary emission of halon does not occur and that Australia has sufficient stocks of halon to meet approved essential uses, such as defence applications and fire protection systems for aircraft and merchant shipping.
Under the DASCEM Halon Community Collection Programme, the Government is providing $1.1 million in 1997-98 for the operation of the Halon Bank. The Bank began collecting halon in May 1993 and over 1,100 tonnes of halon 1211 (used in yellow fire extinguishers) and 500 tonnes of halon 1301 (used in fixed fire suppression systems) have now been collected. DASCEM has commenced destruction of surplus halon using a world leading Australian technology.
Australia has led the world in successfully decommissioning halon from non-essential fire protection systems. Australia is also a world leader in the destruction of halon and has the capacity to provide a safe halon destruction service for countries in our region.
A number of Commonwealth agencies such as the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology conduct a broad range of scientific atmospheric research. The CSIRO's atmospheric research totals more than $16.5 million per annum of appropriation funded research with another $9 million per annum from other sources, mostly governmental. Also, approximately $7 million per annum of the total $160 million per annum cost of operation of the Bureau of Meteorology is committed to atmospheric monitoring, research and prediction of direct relevance to air quality, ozone depletion, climate change and other atmospheric environmental issues.
Internationally, the scientific community has agreed that 'the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate' (IPCC). Human activities such as energy use, transport, industry and agriculture have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Climate change will have an impact on a wide range of aspects of our lives, from human health to agriculture and natural ecosystems.
Box 7.8: National Greenhouse Research Programme
To help prepare Australia for a changing climate, the Government has committed $12 million over the four years from 1996-97 to 1999-2000 for the National Greenhouse Research Programme, with $3.6 million being provided in 1997-98. The programme aims to improve understanding of how Australia's climate will change and what the impacts of those changes will be, allowing more informed decision making and planning. Australia's research programmes also provide the scientific basis behind our negotiating position on climate change in international forums.
The programme's core research is performed by the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the National Tidal Facility. The CSIRO and BoM conduct coordinated research which furthers our understanding of the climate system; develops climate models and their application in predicting medium and long term climate; and improves our understanding of the likely impacts of climate change and climatic variability on economic, social and environmental systems on a national and regional basis. The National Tidal Facility maintains the Baseline Sea Level Monitoring Stations around Australia which collect key data on sea levels for the Australian region.
Funds for climate change research also provide for studies into broader aspects of the impacts of climate change such as hydrological, agricultural and socio economic impacts. This research is largely undertaken through universities, sometimes with additional funding from sectoral or industry interests.
The CSIRO also conducts significant research on climate change beyond the scope of the National Greenhouse Research Programme. The CSIRO's atmospheric research includes:
The Government has also created the Greenhouse Science Advisory Committee, which will provide the Minister with independent advice on greenhouse science issues. The Committee comprises eminent Australian scientists covering a range of climate related disciplines.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
As part of its international and national commitments, the Government prepares an annual National Greenhouse Gas Inventory of anthropogenic (human caused) emissions. Funding for this is $1 million in 1997-98. In 1996, the Government released updated inventories for the years 1988 to 1994, along with an analysis of trends. An inventory for 1995 will be completed by mid 1997. Considerable effort is being focussed on reducing the high level of uncertainty in the emissions resulting from land use change and forestry activities, including measurement of vegetation using satellite monitoring.
To underpin development of national and international climate change policy, the Government is developing methodologies, modelling tools and undertaking assessment of future trends in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Government is also providing $800,000 in 1997-98 for a collaborative State/Commonwealth project on remote sensing of agricultural land cover change which will help improve the inventory.
The National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Programme is overseen by the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Committee of Commonwealth, State and Territory representatives. The committee assures that national input is received and national considerations are taken into account in the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
Other Climate Change Related Research
The Bureau of Meteorology, in cooperation with State and Territory water agencies, has identified a network of benchmark streamflow gauging stations and associated climatic stations, the data from which will be monitored and analysed to determine changes or trends associated with climatic variability and change.
The Commonwealth is providing the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation with $1 million in 1997-98 to continue research on baseline air pollution and ancient glaciation and sediments to provide data for climate change modelling.
The Bureau of Resource Sciences provides scientific analysis and advice on energy efficiency and greenhouse response measures. The CSIRO also undertakes research on a wide variety of aspects of Australia's climate, oceans, land and biosphere. The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and the CRC for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Environment also undertake research in this discipline.
The CSIRO undertakes around $3 million of air quality research per annum to develop and apply innovative tools for assessing local and regional impact of pollutant emissions. Also, the Bureau of Meteorology provides meteorological support for predicting air pollution episodes and other environmental risks associated with flooding, bushfires and toxic spills. It participates in the development of indicators for the state of the atmosphere and national inquiries and studies into urban and regional air quality, and operates, jointly with the CSIRO, an internationally recognised Baseline Air Pollution Station at Cape Grim, Tasmania.
The Commonwealth is supporting a $200,000 joint programme by the CSIRO and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to perform a pilot study on the chemical and physical properties of fine particles in Australian urban areas. Research has also been sponsored at the Queensland University of Technology into fine particle pollution from diesel powered vehicles and into the formation of smog particles.
The Commonwealth is providing $1.4 million over four years from 1997-98 to the Nuclear Safety Bureau for protection of the environment from hazards arising from the operation of the ANSTO nuclear plant. This involves monitoring and reviewing airborne discharges and assessing the risk of accidents which might lead to releases of radioactive materials from the reactor. This has resulted in routine radioactive discharges being maintained at levels which are comparable to similar facilities elsewhere and which correspond to radiation doses to individuals which are a small fraction of the national and international doses limits. No accidental releases of airborne radioactive materials have occurred.
The Commonwealth is also providing $1.2 million> over the next four years for an environmental surveillance programme, to be conducted by the Australian Radiation Laboratory (ARL), involving an Australia wide network of air and rainfall sampling stations for monitoring radioactive fallout. Its purpose is to enable the detection of very low levels of radioactive contamination should they arise in the Australian environment from any local or overseas source.
The ARL monitors and audits releases of radioactivity to the environment by the ANSTO facility (including chemistry laboratories) as well as conducting annual inspections and environmental monitoring of radioactive waste storage facilities at Woomera. In addition, the ARL conducts investigative research into radon and the behaviour of radioactive aerosols in the environment.
The Government supports research activities to ensure that its ozone protection policies are based on the best available scientific information. Part of the $7 million per annum Bureau of Meteorology expenditure on atmosphere related activities funds the monitoring of stratospheric ozone concentrations and the monitoring and analysis of the concentrations of ozone depleting gases in the atmosphere by the joint Cape Grim programme.
The Commonwealth also provides $200,000 per annum for the Australian Radiation Laboratory to measure solar ultra violet radiation levels and to assess the consequences for public health.
The Cooperative Research Centre for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology is funded under the Cooperative Research Centres Programme to be a major world class centre for meteorology research and graduate training. One of the three research programmes is the Ozone programme which is identifying key mechanisms that control stratospheric ozone.