Council of Australian Governments, November 1997
Matters of National Environmental Significance
For the purpose of this Attachment -
'Commonwealth responsibility' relates to meeting the obligations of those international agreements referred to and/or the administration of relevant Commonwealth legislation. Those responsibilities may be discharged in co-operation and/or consultation with the other parties to this Agreement.
'Commonwealth interest' relates to initiating or participating in the development of co-operative approaches for dealing with environmental problems, the establishment and delivery of programmes, and the provision of funding. Commonwealth interests may vary, from time to time, in relation to the particular matters of interest and the level of Commonwealth involvement.
1. World Heritage properties
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
2. Ramsar listed wetlands
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention).
3. Places of national significance
Commonwealth and State Heritage Ministers (and relevant Environment Ministers) have agreed to develop a co-operative national heritage places strategy. This strategy will: (i) set out the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States; (ii) identify criteria, standards and guidelines for the protection of heritage by each level of government; and (iii) provide for the establishment of a list of places of national heritage significance. The Commonwealth's responsibility and interest will be defined thereafter.
4. Nationally endangered or vulnerable species and communities
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the objectives of the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 to promote the recovery of species and ecological communities that are endangered or vulnerable, and prevent other species and ecological communities from becoming endangered.
5. Migratory species and cetaceans
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention), the Australia/Japan Agreement for the Protection of Migratory Birds and Birds in Danger of Extinction and their Environment (JAMBA), the Australia/China Agreement for the Protection of Migratory Birds and their Environment (CAMBA), the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (International Whaling Convention) and the Whale Protection Act 1980.
6. Nuclear activities
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to the assessment and approval of mining, milling, storage and transport of uranium and the development and implementation, in consultation with the States, of codes of practice as provided under the Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Act 1978 for protecting the health and safety of the people of Australia, and the environment, from possible harmful effects associated with nuclear activities.
7. Management and protection of the marine and coastal environment
Commonwealth responsibility involves meeting obligations contained in international agreements and in Commonwealth legislation in relation to waters outside those waters under State control pursuant to the Offshore Constitutional Settlement, except where formal Commonwealth/State management arrangements are in place (e.g. specific fisheries) or where waters are under Commonwealth direct management (e.g. the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park). The Commonwealth has responsibility for control of sea dumping in Australian waters.
Commonwealth interest involves co-operation with the States to develop strategic approaches to ensure the management and protection of Australia's marine and coastal environment.
8. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting and enhancing greenhouse sinks
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting the obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in co-operation with the States, through specific programmes and the development and implementation of national strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, and to protect and enhance greenhouse sinks.
9. Regulation of ozone depleting substances
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting obligations contained in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to take appropriate measures to help control, limit, reduce or prevent human activities likely to have adverse effects on the ozone layer.
Commonwealth regulation involves any proposal to import/export or manufacture substances which may result in depletion of the ozone layer. Commonwealth interest relates to the implementation of the national strategy for ozone protection in co-operation with the States.
10. Conservation of biological diversity (recognising that nationally endangered or vulnerable species and communities are covered under item 4 of this Attachment)
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to meeting obligations contained in the Convention on Biological Diversity in co-operation with the States, including under the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity and through relevant programmes.
11. Protection and management of forests
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to the development and implementation of Regional Forest Agreements and the National Forest Policy Statement, and under relevant international instruments including the Rio Statement of Forest Principles, the International Tropical Timbers Agreement, the Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Forests and Agenda 21.
As indicated in paragraph 10 of the body of this Agreement, nothing in this Agreement will affect any arrangements entered into at any time as part of a Regional Forest Agreement.
12. Genetically modified organisms which my have an adverse impact on the environment
The Commonwealth has a responsibility to regulate the import and export of genetically modified organisms under the Quarantine Act 1908 and associated Commonwealth legislation. Any Commonwealth regulatory role in relation to the development, release or use of genetically modified organisms is subject to the development of nationally agreed arrangements.
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to the development of an agreed national approach concerning the control of genetically modified organisms to ensure that they do not adversely impact on the environment.
13. Agricultural, veterinary and industrial chemicals
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in relation to environmental safety assessment and registration of agricultural and veterinary chemicals, and notification and environmental safety assessment of industrial chemicals under the national notification and assessment schemes.
14. Matters requiring national environment protection measures
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in the development of national environmental protection measures (NEPMs) jointly with the States through the National Environment Protection Council and a responsibility to implement NEPMs in relation to Commonwealth activities and places.
15. Management of hazardous wastes relating to Commonwealth obligations arising from the Basel Convention
The Commonwealth has a responsibility in relation to meeting the obligations contained in the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention) as implemented by the Hazardous Wastes (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 concerning the regulation of activities or proposals involving the international transboundary movement and disposal (including storage) of hazardous wastes.
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to the development and implementation of co-operative approaches to minimise the risks and adverse impacts arising from the movement and disposal of hazardous wastes.
16. Access to biological resources
The Commonwealth has a responsibility in relation to meeting the obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity and to regulating the import and export of biological resources under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982, the Quarantine Act 1908 and other relevant Commonwealth legislation. Any additional future Commonwealth regulatory role will be subject to the development of nationally agreed arrangements governing access to Australia's biological resources.
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to the development and implementation of a national approach to manage access to Australia's biological resources.
17. International trade in wildlife arising from obligations under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
The Commonwealth has a responsibility in relation to meeting Convention obligations including regulation of the import or export of species covered by the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982.
18. Development and maintenance of national environmental and heritage data sets arising from intergovernmental arrangements and international obligations
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has a statutory responsibility for the national collection of statistics.
The Commonwealth's interest includes the identification, development, maintenance and interpretation of national environmental and heritage data sets in co-operation with the States.
19. Applying uniform national emissions standards to motor vehicles
The Commonwealth has responsibility for the development and implementation of uniform national standards for vehicles when they are first used in transport in Australia. Regulation through the Motor Vehicle Standards Act 1989 has the objective of applying standards which meet the safety and environmental quality expectations of the community. The Commonwealth will exercise its responsibilities through the mechanisms provided by the National Environment Protection Council and the Ministerial Council on Road Transport.
20. Policies and practices of a State resulting in potentially significant adverse external effects in relation to the environment of another State, where the States involved cannot resolve the problem
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to resolving interjurisdictional differences on the environment where States do not agree and the proposal is referred through mutual agreement to the Commonwealth.
21. ‘National interest ' environmental matters as covered by the Telecommunications Act 1997
The Commonwealth responsibility is to ensure that telecommunications infrastructure is established and maintained having regard to matters of national interest specified in the Act including matters requiring special environmental consideration by the Commonwealth.
22. Quarantine matters
The Commonwealth responsibility is in relation to the regulation of the import and export of animal and plant material into and out of Australia as provided inter alia by the Quarantine Act 1908.
The Commonwealth interest involves co-operation with the States to avoid or minimise risks to the environment arising from the import and export of animal and plant material that could contain anything that could threaten Australia's native flora or fauna and their natural environment.
23. Aviation airspace management including assessment of aircraft noise and emissions
The Commonwealth has sole responsibility for all aspects of aviation airspace management and regulation including implementation of resolutions emanating from the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
24. Natural Heritage Trust Programmes
The Commonwealth has a responsibility and an interest in implementing programmes under the Natural Heritage Trust in accordance with the Natural Heritage Trust Act 1997 and the Partnership Agreements entered into with the States and Territories.
25. Implementation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to implementation of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development.
26. Nationally significant feral animals and weeds
The Commonwealth has an interest in relation to the development and implementation of measures and agreed programmes to control feral animals and weeds identified in national strategies, agreements, policies and control plans.
27. Conservation of native vegetation and fauna
The Commonwealth interest involves taking programme and co-operative measures with the States and other interested parties to conserve and manage native vegetation and fauna.
28. Prevention of land and water degradation
Commonwealth interest is in the development of agreed strategies and programmes to prevent and ameliorate land and water degradation particularly in relation to transboundary problems.
29. Matters that are from time to time agreed by the Commonwealth and the States as being matters of national environmental significance
30. The Commonwealth also has a responsibility and an interest in relation to proposals on Commonwealth lands and waters and proposals which are beyond the jurisdiction of States and Territories (e.g. foreign aid proposals)