Environment and natural resource management


Budget Review 2010-11 Index

Budget 2010–11: Climate change, energy and the environment

Environment and natural resource management

Bill McCormick

Caring for our Country

The Government announced in the Budget that it will require savings from the Caring for our Country (CfoC) initiative of $81.3 million over the next four years. These savings will come from the Landcare program (which is funded through the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry—DAFF), and from the Natural Heritage Trust of Australia (funded through the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts—DEWHA).[1]

Caring for our Country (CfoC) has provided funding for Landcare (among other things) since the National Landcare Program finished on 30 June 2008. The Australian Government announced in July 2008 that the CfoC initiative would include $189 million over five years for landcare-related activities. In 2008–09 Landcare Sustainable Practice projects were allocated under CfoC.[2] Since then, $26 million in Landcare grants have been allocated through the 2009–10 CfoC Business Plan.[3] In June 2009 the government committed $33.6 million over four years under the CfoC to support the work of a national network of up 56 Landcare facilitators across Australia.[4] Funding commitments to both these programs end in 2012–13.

These budget savings from CfoC are referred to as “reducing duplication” but it is not clear if there is much duplication in the CfoC. To date there are no specified areas where cuts have been identified. As noted in Table 1, the cuts will increase over the next four years from $10.3 million in 2010–11 up to $35.3 million in 2013–14.

Table 1 Caring for our Country—reducing duplication

 

2010–11 ($m)

2011–12 ($m)

2012–13 ($m)

2013–14 ($m)

DEWHA

-8.8

-12.9

-17.1

-31.6

DAFF

-1.5

-2.4

-3.2

-3.7

Total

-10.3

-15.3

-20.3

-35.3

Source: Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2010-11, p. 163

It is expected that the reduction in funding will be achieved first through internal efficiencies and minor adjustments to the program, which is why the cuts increase each year until 2013–14.

However, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, has given a commitment that the base level funding for the 56 Natural Resource Management Regions ($138 million per annum through 2012–13) and the funding for Landcare facilitators ($8.1 million through 2012–13) will be maintained until 2012–13.[5] It should be noted that both programs have funding commitments until the end of 2012–13 so it is possible that these two programs could have cuts of up to $15 million in the 2013–14 financial year to meet the further reduction in funding planned for that year.

The National Party and Australian Greens Senators have criticised the reduction in funding to Landcare and other natural resource management programs. Senator Rachel Siewert, the Australian Greens spokesperson on NRM and agriculture, said:

Caring for Our Country was in need of an overhaul, I have been extremely critical of this Government’s approach to NRM and Landcare but the last thing it needed was a funding cut of this magnitude, one which strikes at the core of Australia’s natural resource management programs,”[6]

National Plan for Environmental Information—establishment

The Budget provides funding for the development of a National Plan for Environmental Information.[7] The plan is to be a whole-of-government initiative implemented jointly by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). The Plan aims to improve the quality and coverage of Australia’s environmental information so that it can be used to make sound decisions about issues that affect natural resources.

The plan will coordinate and prioritise the way the Australian Government collects, manages and uses environmental information. It represents a long-term approach to building and improving our environmental information base. In the first four years, the initiative will:

  • establish the Bureau of Meteorology as the Australian Government authority for environmental information
  • formalise arrangements to coordinate priorities and activities across government
  • review existing information resources, and environmental information activity
  • begin building priority national environmental datasets and the infrastructure to deliver them.[8]

As part of the plan, legislation governing environmental information will be introduced; there will be a review of Australian Government activity in environmental information; and a high-level advisory group will provide whole-of-government direction and prioritise environmental information activities. BOM will conduct a review of existing environmental data to meet national environmental information priorities, to identify potential gaps in our existing capabilities, and establish expert technical panels and partnerships with key Australian Government agencies to develop and deliver specific products.[9]

To develop the Plan, the government will provide $18 million over four years (including $7.6 million in capital funding). An Environmental Information Reform program will be established in DEWHA ($1.3 million over 2010–11 and 2011–12) and an Environmental Data Coordination program will be established in the Bureau of Meteorology ($16.7 million over 2010–11 through 2013–14).

National Waste Policy—implementation

The National Waste Policy was agreed to by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC) at its 5 November 2009 meeting and replaces the National Strategy for Ecological Sustainable Development as the basis for waste management in Australia.[10] It sets a national direction for waste policy until 2020 and aims to avoid the generation of waste; reduce the amount of waste for disposal; manage waste as a resource; and ensure that waste treatment, disposal, recovery and re-use are undertaken in a safe, scientific and environmentally sound manner.

The policy sets a clear direction for Australia over the next 10 years, toward producing less waste for disposal, and managing waste as a resource to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits. It will complement action to deliver greenhouse gas emission reductions, reduce energy and water use, support jobs, and invest in future long term economic growth. It will promote more consistent regulation and address market impediments. The policy will provide the basis for collaboration among the jurisdictions to deliver effective and efficient approaches to national waste issues, and ensure that waste management remains aligned with Australia’s international obligations.[11]

In announcing the agreement to the National Waste Policy, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts said that:

The National Waste Policy sets out a comprehensive agenda for national coordinated action on waste across six key areas:

  • Taking Responsibility
  • Improving the Market
  • Pursuing Sustainability
  • Reducing Hazard and Risk
  • Tailoring Solutions
  • Providing the Evidence

“This is a fundamental shift in our approach to waste complementing broader action on climate change and sustainability. It will lead to less waste and better management of waste as a resource, to deliver economic, environmental and social benefits, while ensuring that we continue to manage waste in a safe and environmentally sound manner”.[12]

The 2010–11 Budget stated that the Government will provide $23 million over five years to 2014–15 to implement the initial components of the National Waste Policy. ‘As a first step, the policy will deliver new schemes for recycling computers, televisions and tyres.’[13]


[1].    Australian government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2010–11, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2010, p. 163, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.aph.gov.au/budget/2010-11/content/bp2/html/index.htm

[2].    Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), ‘Sustainable Practices Projects 2008–09’, DAFF website, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.daff.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/738764/mrmo-landcare-funding-list.pdf

[3].    Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), ‘Landcare funding from Caring for our Country’, DAFF website, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.nrm.gov.au/business-plan/funded/09/landcare/index.html

[4].    A Burke (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry), National network of Landcare coordinators to continue, media release, 5 June 2009, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.maff.gov.au/media/media_releases/2009/june/national_network_of_landcare_coordinators_to_continue

[5].    A Burke (Minister for Agriculture, fisheries and Forestry), Landcare funding increases to $36 million 2010–11 Budget, media release, 12 may 2010, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.maff.gov.au/media/media_releases/2010/may/landcare_funding_increases_to_$36_million_2010-11_budget

[6].    Senator R Siewert, Budget delivers sting for environmental programs, media release, 12 May 2010, viewed 17 May 2010, http://parlinfo/parlInfo/download/media/pressrel/3POW6/upload_binary/3pow60.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf#search=%22landcare%22

[7].    Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, ‘National plan for Environmental information’, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.environment.gov.au/npei/index.html

[8].    ibid

[9].    ibid

[10]. Environment Protection and Heritage Council, National waste policy: less waste, more resources, Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts, Canberra, November 2009, viewed 18 May 2010, http://www.ephc.gov.au/sites/default/files/WasteMgt_Rpt__National_Waste_Policy_Framework_Less_waste_more_resources_PRINT_ver_200911.pdf

[11]. Environment Protection and Heritage Council, Historic agreement sets waste agenda to 2020 for less waste and more resources, Communique, 5 November 2009, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.ephc.gov.au/sites/default/files/EPHC_Cmq__Communique_2009_11_05.pdf

[12]. P Garrett (Minister for the Environment , Heritage and the Arts), National first: new waste policy and new recycling schemes for TVs, computers and tyres, media release, 5 November 2009, viewed 17 May 2010, http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2009/mr20091105a.html

[13]. Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2010–11, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 2010, p. 167, viewed 18 May 2010, http://www.aph.gov.au/budget/2010-11/content/bp2/download/bp2.pdf

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