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Resource Assessment Commission Coastal Zone Inquiry - Final Report November 1993

Resource Assessment Commission, November 1993
ISBN 0 64429457


B.01 Many government programs and initiatives have effects on the resources of the coastal zone. This appendix discusses Commonwealth programs and their connection with the National Coastal Action Program. Table B.1 lists the programs currently being undertaken by Commonwealth agencies that have an impact on the management of coastal zone resources. There are also many state and local programs that seek to improve the coastal environment or mitigate the negative impacts of existing developments; the reports of the case studies conducted by the Inquiry in collaboration with the states provide examples of these state and local initiatives. The following sections describe national programs that are directly relevant to the National Coastal Action Program.

B.02 The objectives of the National Coastal Action Program are generally consistent with the objectives of these programs. The proposals made in this report, particularly those in Chapter 8, provide for the establishment of institutional and administrative arrangements to ensure that these programs can be integrated with the National Coastal Action Program.


B.03 A number of initiatives relevant to urban development in the coastal zone are being administered by the Department of Health, Housing, Local Government and Community Services. The National Urban Development Program has a number of components, among them the following:

B.04 In total, the activities of the Department constitute a significant Commonwealth involvement in the promotion of improved management of urban development and, by association, improved management of the resources affected by urban development. The success of these programs will have a positive influence on the management of the coastal zone because urban development is one of the major factors contributing to degradation of coastal environments.

B.05 The National Urban Development Program focuses on the efficiencies that can be gained by taking a strategic approach to the provision of infrastructure and by adopting new urban and housing forms. The ultimate goal of the Program is to reduce the cost of housing and the cost of servicing urban areas. Other factors such as the impact of new urban areas on remnants of natural habitat, on landscape quality, on productive rural land, or on the environment generally are often secondary considerations. It is proposed that this distortion be rectified by the adoption of a more holistic perspective on the role of urban development in coastal zone resource management.


B.06 The Department of Tourism administers two programs of particular relevance to the management of coastal zone resources: the Regional Tourism Development Program and the Sites of National Tourism Significance Program.

B.07 The Regional Tourism Development Program is designed to facilitate the fair and equitable use of natural resources that support tourism, while maximising the long-term benefit derived from those resources. The Program aims to develop regional tourism facilities and opportunities for visitor experiences to encourage domestic and international tourists to visit regional areas. Grants under the Program focus on projects that develop integrated regional tourism plans, diversify the regional tourism product base, provide infrastructure to increase the capacity of regions to support increased tourism, and coordinate tourism information at a regional level.

B.08 The Sites of National Tourism Significance Program aims to facilitate the protection of sensitive tourist attractions, the sustainability of which is under threat from pressure caused by high levels of tourism demand. The Department of Tourism defines these significant sites as unique or outstanding places in Australia's natural environment that have current or potential domestic or international visitor appeal derived from their environmental, recreational, aesthetic, educational or socio-cultural significance or other special value. Types of eligible projects are management of tourist impacts (for example, viewing platforms), provision of public facilities (for example, wilderness shelters), interpretive and education programs, and applied research projects (for example, research into environmental management techniques).

B.09 The main objectives of the Tourism Program provide for the identification of resource values, consideration of cumulative impacts, assessment of the impacts of tourism, and the conservation of natural ecosystems, biodiversity and the natural processes of the environment. Conservation of resources is one of the major elements of the Program, as is the provision of adequate public access to resources.


B.10 Ocean Rescue 2000 is a 10-year Commonwealth government initiative established in August 1991. It aims to provide a national vision and national objectives and programs for the conservation and sustainable use of Australia's marine environment. The program has six key components.

B.11 The 'state of the marine environment' report being prepared by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority provides information about conservation and management of the marine environment. It comprehensively describes and assesses the marine environment, resources, and human activities, uses and impacts.

B.12 The Australian Marine Conservation Strategy, administered by the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, aims to develop in cooperation with the states a long-term conservation strategy for the marine zone within the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone. It is intended to guide the management activities of relevant authorities by providing a policy basis for conservation and sustainable use of Australia's marine resources into the next century.

B.13 The National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas, administered jointly by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories and the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, focuses on expanding Australia's marine reserve system by establishing a national, representative system of marine protected areas. Areas are selected to represent marine biogeographical regions. The Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council's Advisory Committee on Marine Protected Areas was established to develop agreed objectives, criteria and processes to facilitate further development of the National System. Projects are under way in all states to identify marine areas of conservation significance.

B.14 The National Marine Education Program, administered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, aims to inform and educate Australians about the importance of marine conservation and the sustainable use of Australia's marine resources. It is directed towards the general community, schools, the media, industry and recreational groups, providing information based on the latest available research.

B.15 The National Marine Information System, administered by the Environmental Resources Information Network in the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, is an information base that will include important data on marine hydrology, oceanography, geology, biology and climate as well as types and levels of marine resources.

B.16 The Marine and Coastal Community Network is an initiative designed to encourage and facilitate community support for the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of Australia's marine and coastal environments. The network is coordinated by the Australian Littoral Society.


B.17 The Australian Heritage Commission is responsible for several programs that are relevant to the coastal zone. Its research program-the Australian Heritage Research Program-focuses on major national surveys and projects that directly help the Commission carry out its functions. The objectives of the program are to

B.18 The Australian Heritage Commission also administers the National Estate Grants Program. Its objective is to provide financial assistance to projects aimed at the identification, conservation or presentation of information about the National Estate. The Program is the main avenue by which the Commonwealth Government provides assistance to the states to identify and conserve the National Estate.

B.19 The National Wilderness Inventory is a database that allows for an assessment of wilderness values. The Australian Heritage Commission has helped to fund its compilation since 1987. Annual funding for the project has increased substantially since 1989, when the Prime Minister committed the Commission to completion of the Inventory by 1993.

B.20 These Australian Heritage Commission programs are important elements in the management of coastal resources. The identification and assessment of places of natural and cultural heritage value is a fundamental component of resource allocation decisions.


B.21 The Commonwealth Environment Protection Agency, in the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, is responsible for the publication of 'state of the environment' reports. The reports provide an analysis and interpretation of data that identifies significant environmental conditions and trends and suggests possible explanations for these trends.

B.22 The reports collate information on all environmental processes and provide a comprehensive assessment of their dynamic nature, their causes, and their interaction with the global environment. They also provide a basis for monitoring the success of policies and programs with significant environmental and natural resource implications, focus attention on potential problems, and thus act as an early warning mechanism.

B.23 The 'state of the environment' reports incorporate information obtained from other related initiatives, such as the National Pollution Inventory, research related to the Great Barrier Reef, scientific and community-based water quality monitoring, studies of uses of natural resources, and identification of areas of significant conservation value. This information helps to identify changes in environmental quality.

B.24 The Department intends to establish data-sharing partnerships for all levels of government, academic and scientific institutions, industry and the community, and it plans to compile an inventory of 'state of the environment' indicators and related research information to enhance the development of national environmental indicators and the acquisition of data related to the state of the environment. It also intends to develop more efficient and effective mechanisms for disseminating information to users such as the community, industry and government, along with establishing consultative arrangements for guiding 'state of the environment' reporting and technical working groups for developing national indicators.

B.25 The successful development of these 'state of the environment' reporting mechanisms will be an important element of the monitoring activities necessary to ensure that the National Coastal Action Program is meeting its objectives.


B.26 The Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories is responsible for the Climate Change and Environmental Liaison Program. One element of this Program is the Climate Change Impacts Program, which funds research into the potential impacts of climate change. The Program focuses on coastal issues and funds studies into the assessment of sea-level rise and other potential impacts. Other elements relating to the coastal zone are assessment of the vulnerability of coastal areas to potential impacts of climate change, establishment of a national sea-level monitoring network, and measurement of oceanic characteristics over long periods to monitor change and verify scientific models.

Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Regional development                                                                                                   

Urban and Regional Development Review       DHHLGCS           Through research and consultation, to allow for the      
                                                              definition of an Australian vision for internationally   
                                                              competitive cities and long-term goals and strategies    
                                                              to effect the major changes required in cities           

Regional Development Taskforce              DITRD             To examine issues in regional development and to         
                                                              investigate what the private and public sectors can do   
                                                              to foster regional development                           


Building Better Cities                      DHHLGCS           To demonstrate and develop improved urban development    

National Urban Development Program          DHHLGCS           To encourage industry, community, state and local        
                                                              government acceptance of innovative residential          
                                                              development techniques to promote the efficient supply   
                                                              of land and housing                                      

Review of Residential Development           DHHLGCS-AHIDC     To promote the adoption of the Australian Model Code     
Regulations (Triple-R Program)                                for Residential Development by local governments         
                                                              through the provision of grants                          

Residential Land Program                    DHHLGCS-IPC       To monitor and report on land availability and demand    


Sites of National Tourism Significance      DoT               To facilitate the protection of sensitive tourist        
Program                                                       attractions                                              

Regional Tourism Development Program        DoT               To encourage sustainable tourism and economic growth in  
                                                              regional areas through the development of regional       
                                                              tourism facilities and attractive visitor experiences    


Recreational Fishing Policy                 DPIE              To ensure quality fishing and maintain and enhance fish  
                                                              stocks and their habitats                                

Fisheries Management within the Australian  AFMA              To manage Australia's fisheries sustainably, equitably   
Fishing Zone                                                  and efficiently                                          

Research and Development Program in         FRDC              To enable the Australian mariculture industry to         
Aquaculture                                                   realise its full potential                               


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Fisheries (cont'd)                                                                                                     

MARINET: networking program                                                                                            
                                            DITRD             To facilitate improved communication of marine           

National aquaculture research programs      OCS-              To provide a focus for a national research strategy for  
                                            Cooperative       aquaculture and the ecological basis for a sustainable   
                                            Research Centre   industry that is internationally competitive and         
                                            for Aquaculture   environmentally acceptable                               

Marine development                                                                                                     

Marine Industries Development Program       DITRD             Coordination of marine industries science and            
                                                              technology and development of marine industries through  
                                                              specific initiatives and support of liaison groups such  
                                                              as the Consultative Group on Marine Industries Science   
                                                              and Technology and the Heads of Marine Agencies          

Offshore minerals exploration and           DPIE              To facilitate the assessment and development of          
development                                                   offshore mineral resources                               

Offshore petroleum exploration and          DPIE              To facilitate the assessment and development of          
development                                                   offshore petroleum resources                             

Continental Margins Program                 AGSO              To understand and develop a regional geological          

Research and education                                                                                                 

National Marine Information System          ERIN              To develop a marine and coastal information system to    
                                                              effectively support environmental decision makers in     
                                                              all spheres of government in integrating principles of   
                                                              nature conservation with development and use of land.    
                                                              To provide an information base to aid in identifying     
                                                              potential marine protected areas                         

National Marine Education Program           GBRMPA            To increase Australia's awareness of the need for        
                                                              conservation and sustainable use of Australia's marine   


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Research and education (cont'd)                                                                                        

Understanding Science and Your Environment  DEST-CEPA, RACI   Aimed at schools, industry and the wider community       
                                                              through service and community organisations and the      
                                                              Australian Council of Trade Unions, to raise public      
                                                              awareness of comparative risks and a broad range of      
                                                              environmental issues                                     

Australian Heritage Research Program        AHC               Funds major surveys and other projects that directly     
                                                              help the Heritage Commission to carry out its statutory  

National Wilderness Inventory               AHC               To measure wilderness quality values across a region     
                                                              and store them in a database                             

Australian Biological Diversity Study       ANCA              To provide support for research aimed at determining     
Participatory Program                                         what plants and animals are found in Australia and       
                                                              their distribution                                       

Environmental Education                     ANCA              To foster understanding of natural areas, including      
                                                              marine parks and reserves and environments               

Environmental Resources Information         ANCA              To draw together, upgrade and supplement information on  
Network                                                       the distribution of endangered species, vegetation       
                                                              types and heritage sites.  To assist portfolio agencies  
                                                              in planning and decision making                          

Marine and Estuarine Protected Areas        ANCA              Database of all Australian established marine parks and  
Inventory                                                     reserves                                                 

Research and Surveys Program                ANCA              To make funds available to consultants for specific      
                                                              services related to national nature conservation issues  

Air-sea interaction research                Bureau of         To improve understanding of processes at the air-sea     
                                            Meteorology       interface and their role in determining patterns of      
                                            Research Centre   weather and climate                                      

Marine meteorological and oceanographic     Bureau of         To provide the database for routine marine services and  
data collection                             Meteorology       weather and climate research                             


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Research and education (cont'd)                                                                                        

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park              GBRMPA            To initiate and fund research that will assist in the    
Authority-Research and Monitoring                             conservation and management of the Great Barrier Reef    

Torres Strait Baseline Study                GBRMPA            Baseline data on biota and sediments in the Torres       
                                                              Strait region                                            

Coastal Zone Research Program               CSIRO             To understand the process by which land use and changes  
                                                              affect the coastal zone and to use this understanding    
                                                              to produce appropriate management tools, including an    
                                                              information base, for management                         

Industry Research and Development Board's   DITRD             To fund collaborative research and development projects  
Environmental Technology Scheme                               that have the potential to improve the Australian        
                                                              environment and the competitiveness of Australian        
                                                              manufacturing through the adoption of environmentally    
                                                              sensitive systems                                        

Coastal Processes and Resources             AIMS              To investigate and understand the physical and           
                                                              biological factors controlling ecological processes in   
                                                              coastal zone ecosystems.  Emphasis has been on           
                                                              mangroves.  Future emphasis will be on seagrasses,       
                                                              freshwater wetlands and coastal reefs                    

Coral Reef Ecosystems                       AIMS              To understand the effects of human disturbance and       
                                                              exploitation of coral reefs within the context of        
                                                              natural spatial and temporal variation of coral systems  

Environmental Studies and Biotechnology     AIMS              To investigate selected organisms, to determine how      
                                                              they respond to and record environmental conditions and  
                                                              to develop an understanding of their potential for       
                                                              mariculture or other potential commercial products       

Tropical Oceanography                       AIMS              To improve understanding of physical, biological and     
                                                              chemical processes in Australia's northern coastal       
                                                              shelf and oceanic waters                                 


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Research and education (cont'd)                                                                                        

Information Management (establishment of    DPIE-NRIC         To improve the ability of information bases to           
the Australian GIS and development of the                     contribute to policy development, decision making and    
National Directory of Australian Resources                    resource management in coastal and marine environments   
to include comprehensive information on                                                                                
coastal data sets)                                                                                                     

Coastal Marine Information System           AGSO              To improve geological baseline data in selected regions  

ENVIRODAT                                   AGSO              Baseline data on areas of active petroleum industry      
                                                              interest within offshore continental margins             

Environmental Geoscience and Ground Water   AGSO              To provide the baseline geoscientific data and           
Program                                                       interpretations necessary for integrated management of   
                                                              the coastal zone, including conservation, the impacts    
                                                              of resource use, development and recreational            
                                                              pressures, and environmental change                      

Marine Processes and Environment            AGSO              To develop an understanding of continental margin        
(including the Marine Geoscience and                          depositional processes, climate change and chemical      
Petroleum Geology Program )                                   accumulation in sediments                                

National Geoscience Mapping Accord          AGSO              Primary resources                                        

Offshore Resource Map Series-Marine         AGSO              To publish a series of map sheets at 1:1 000 000 scale   
Geoscience and Petroleum Geology Program                      covering the entire continental margin                   


Historic Shipwrecks Program                 DEST              Provides funding to state and territory authorities to   
                                                              locate, identify and conserve declared shipwrecks and    
                                                              associated material                                      

Management Plan for Heard Island and        DEST              To preserve and manage the external territory so as to   
McDonald Islands                                              protect its environment and indigenous wildlife          

Ocean Rescue 2000                           DEST, ANCA,       To provide a national vision, national objectives and    
                                            GBRMPA            programs for marine conservation in Australia            


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Conservation (cont'd)                                                                                                  

National Representative System of Marine    GBRMPA, ANCA,     To develop a national representative system of marine    
Park Areas                                  DEST              protected areas                                          

National Marine Conservation Strategy       DEST              To develop a long-term conservation strategy             

Torres Strait Marine Conservation Program   ICC, GBRMPA       To help ICC develop a marine conservation strategy for   
                                                              Torres Strait                                            

Wessel Islands Project                      Northern Land     To help the Wessel Island Aboriginal Community develop   
                                            Council, ANCA     a local marine conservation strategy                     

National Estates Grants Program             AHC               To provide assistance to the states and territories,     
                                                              and organisations within them, to identify, conserve     
                                                              and present the national estate                          

Endangered Species Program                  ANCA              To prevent the extinction due to human causes of         
                                                              endangered native species of fauna and flora, including  
                                                              marine animals such as whales and turtles                

Marine Wildlife Conservation                ANCA              Administration and enforcement of wildlife protection    
                                                              legislation in Commonwealth waters                       

National Wetlands Conservation and          ANCA              To promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands in  
Management Program                                            accordance with Australia's obligations under the        
                                                              Ramsar Convention                                        

One Billion Trees                           ANCA              To help the community plant one billion trees by the     
                                                              year 2000                                                

Save the Bush                               ANCA              To encourage, facilitate and support programs and        
                                                              activities associated with the protection, management    
                                                              and investigation of remnant native vegetation that      
                                                              directly or indirectly assist with the maintenance of    
                                                              biological diversity in Australia                        

States Co-operative Assistance Program      ANCA              Cooperative conservation projects of national or         
                                                              international significance related to wildlife,          
                                                              national parks and reserves in the states and            

National Landcare Program                   DPIE-ANCA         Sustainable land management and nature conservation      
                                                              supported by community-based activities                  


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Conservation (cont'd)                                                                                                  

Sustainable Natural Resource Management     DPIE-ANCA         Sustainable land management and nature conservation      
Program                                                       supported by community-based activities                  

Greenhouse issues                                                                                                      

Application of the Intergovernmental Panel  DEST              To assess vulnerability of coastal areas; review         
on Climate Change 'Vulnerability to                           methodology and techniques                               
Accelerated Sea-level Rise Assessment                                                                                  
Methodology' to case studies                                                                                           

Evaluation of impacts of climate change     DEST              To use and build upon existing knowledge of coastal      
and sea-level change on coastal                               environmental phenomena in order to develop a            
environment conditions                                        broad-based integrated appreciation of                   
                                                              greenhouse-induced environmental change                  

A sub-network of high-precision sea-level   DEST              To gain understanding of the total ocean atmosphere      
monitoring stations to be established at                      environment                                              
appropriate sites around the country to                                                                                
serve as baseline stations for the                                                                                     
existing tide gauge network.                                                                                           

Measuring thermal structure and sea level   DEST              To obtain decade-long series of ocean data around        
for climate studies                                           Australia that record changes in sea level and thermal   
                                                              structure and that can be used to verify models          

Local government                                                                                                       

Local Government Environmental Information  DEST              To encourage local governments to include environmental  
Exchange Program                                              considerations in their decision making and in the long  
                                                              term to improve the quality of environmental management  
                                                              at the local government level                            

Local Government Development Program:       DHHLGCS           The enhancement of management practices so that          
National Local Government Environmental                       environmental concerns are included in all local         
Resource Program                                              government policies and practices                        

Local Approvals Review Program              DHHLGCS           To assist local governments to improve development       
                                                              approval processes                                       

Voluntary Regional Cooperation Program      DHHLGCS, local    To facilitate regional cooperation between local         
                                            governments       councils                                                 


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Local government (cont'd)                                                                                              

Integrated Local Area Planning              DHHLGCS           To help local authorities develop strategic approaches   
                                                              to decision making, planning and delivery of services    

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander                                                                                  

Aboriginal Employment Development Policy    ATSIC             To enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander          
Program                                                       communities or groups to undertake community             
                                                              development activities; to provide community             
                                                              development activities; to provide training to enable    
                                                              more efficient performance of existing duties and        
                                                              achieve more effective self-management to promote        
                                                              self employment opportunities                             

Aboriginal heritage protection              ATSIC             To return to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander       
                                                              people ownership of significant cultural property; to    
                                                              ensure their involvement in the administration and       
                                                              management of protection and conservation programs for   
                                                              the cultural property of indigenous people; to ensure    
                                                              effective protection of indigenous sites and objects of  

Community development employment projects   ATSIC             To provide opportunities for employment on a variety of  
                                                              community development projects and enterprises           

Land ownership and management               ATSIC             To establish for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander   
                                                              people secure title to land, a significant degree of     
                                                              control over management of that land, and the capacity   
                                                              to benefit from resources on that land                   

Contract Employment Program for             ANCA              To increase Aboriginal involvement in natural and        
Aboriginals in Natural and Cultural                           cultural resource management and develop Aboriginal      
Resource Management                                           employment strategies with state and territory nature    
                                                              conservation agencies                                    


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Public participation and community                                                                                     

Promotion of water safety activities        DEST              To provide financial assistance to water safety          
                                                              organisations, including Surf Life Saving Australia and  
                                                              the Royal Life Saving Society, for the development of    
                                                              safe beach and surf and other water-related activities   
                                                              and programs                                             

Monitoring and evaluation                                                                                              

'State of the marine environment' report    GBRMPA            To provide information about conservation and            
                                                              management of the marine environment                     

Marine weather services                     Bureau of         To provide information on, and warning of, weather       
                                            Meteorology       conditions that could endanger life and property in the  
                                                              coastal zone                                             

Assessment and management of contaminated   CEPA, ANZECC,     To reduce or eliminate impacts of contaminated sites on  
sites                                       NHMRC, NOHSC      health and the environment                               

National Pollutant Inventory                CEPA, ANZECC      To decrease pollution by increasing awareness of its     

National Water Quality Guidelines (part of  CEPA-ANZECC,      To identify environmental values, criteria and           
the National Water Quality Strategy)        DPIE-AWRC         guidelines for: domestic water supplies; ecosystem       
                                                              protection (inland and marine); waters for recreation    
                                                              and aesthetics; agricultural water supplies; industrial  
                                                              water supplies                                           

'State of the environment' reporting        CEPA              To identify issues and trends in the condition of the    
                                                              Australian environment                                   

Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Program  Defence (Navy)    To provide services for safety of navigation that help   
                                                              prevent shipwrecks and consequent pollution of the       
                                                              coastal zone; manages large database of coastal          

National Tidal Facility                     Flinders          To manage national sea-level database; monitor           
                                            University        variations in sea level; provide tide predictions for    
                                                              port operations; forecast drought cycles; research       
                                                              long-term variability of sea level and advise on tidal   
                                                              aspects of coastal management programs                   

Ballast water                               DPIE-AQIS         To control discharge of water that may introduce exotic  
                                                              marine organisms                                         


Program                                     Lead agency       Aims                                                     

Monitoring and evaluation (cont'd)                                                                                     

Quarantine                                  DPIE-AQIS         To protect the environment and agricultural and aquatic  
                                                              industries from exotic pests and diseases                

Navigational aids                           DOTAC-AMSA        To install and maintain navigational aids to provide     
                                                              safe passage for coastal vessels and reduce the          
                                                              likelihood of marine accidents                           

Port State Control Program                  DOTAC-AMSA        To inspect oil and chemical tankers and randomly         
                                                              inspect 25 per cent of other vessels visiting            
                                                              Australian ports                                         

Source: Adapted from DASET (1992b).