Appendix 4: Ecologically sustainable development and environmental performance

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Ecologically sustainable development (ESD) is:

… using, conserving and enhancing the community’s resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased.

—National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development, 1992

The Department’s mission is to contribute to total quality of life now and in the future by:

increasing the profitability, competitiveness and sustainability of Australian agricultural, food, fisheries and forestry industries and enhancing the natural resource base to achieve greater national wealth and stronger rural and regional communities.

It follows that ESD is not an ‘add on’ function of the Department, but our core business. We are responsible for administering—solely, principally or jointly—Australia’s major ESD initiatives.

SD principles

The principles of ESD are as follows:

  • Decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations.
  • If there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
  • The present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment are maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations (intergenerational equity).
  • The conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration in decision making.
  • Improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms should be promoted.
Our contributions to ESD through our policies and programmes

The policies and programmes developed and administered by the Department make economic, social and environmental contributions to ESD.

Table 49 lists major policies, programmes and initiatives that we manage, and indicates their contribution to ESD. Based on dollar value, approximately 60% of these activities contribute to economic outcomes, 20% to social outcomes and 20% to environmental outcomes. Figure 19 links them to more detailed areas of ESD.

Table 50 lists legislation, administered by us under the Administrative Arrangements Order, that contributes directly to ESD.

The effectiveness of the Department’s policies and programmes is reviewed frequently, leading to recommendations for improvements. The ‘Reviews and evaluations’ section in this report details results from such reviews in 2006–07.

Table 49 Contributions of policies, programmes and initiatives to ESD
Policy, programme or initiative Output

Contribution to ESD (%)

Economic Social Environmental
Defeating the Weed Menace 1 40 - 60
National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality 1 - - 100
National Landcare Programme (for payment to NRM Account) 1 40 30 30
National Landcare Programme Payments to States 1 40 30 30
Agriculture Advancing Australia—FarmBis 2 36 37 27
Agriculture Advancing Australia—Farm Help 2 - 100 -
Agriculture Advancing Australia—Industry Partnerships 2 100 - -
Agriculture Advancing Australia—Rural Financial Counselling Service 2 100 - -
Exceptional Circumstances 2 75 25
Farm Household Support Act 1992 (Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payment) 2 75 25
Interim Income Support Payments 2 100 - -
Fisheries Administration Act 1991 2 70 10 20
Regional Assistance 2 30 20 50
Drought Assistance—Professional Advice 1 85 5 10
Adelaide Showground Redevelopment—Contribution 2 85 5 -
Drought Assistance—CWA Emergency Drought Aid Funding 2 85 5 10
Adelaide Showground Redevelopment—Contribution 3 70 20 10
Sugar Industry Reform Programme 2004 (six items combined) 3 42 45 13
Fishing Structural Adjustment Package (seven items combined) 3 42 15 13
Fisheries Resources Research 3 50 - 50
Expenditure under the Fisheries Administration Act 1991 3 70 10 20
Recreational Fishing Community Grants 3 50 50 -
Australian Seafood Industry Council 3 70 10 20
Recfish Australia 3 70 10 20
Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement—Hardwood, Softwood and Country Sawmills Programmes 3 70 10 20
National Food Industry Strategy—Centres of Excellence Programme 3 70 30 -
National Food Industry Strategy—Food Innovation Grants 3 70 30 -
National Food Industry Strategy—Food Safety and Quality Initiative 3 70 30 -
Food Processing in Regional Australia Programme 3 40 40 20
International Organisations Contributions (part item) 3 70 20 10
New Industries Development Programme 3 70 10 20
Payment to Meat & Livestock Australia 3 100 - -
Assistance to the Vegetable Industry 3 70 30 -
Australian HomeGrown Campaign 3 80 20 -
Australian Wool Innovation 3 80 20 -
Torres Strait Prawn Fisheries 3 50 - 50
Tasmanian Pulp Mill 3 70 10 20
Tobacco grower adjustment assistance 3 70 30 -
Agriculture and Veterinary Chemicals Minor Use Programme 5 60 10 -
Australian Animal Welfare Strategy 5 40 40 20
Citrus Canker Eradication Programme 5 70 20 10
Commonwealth contribution to the operating costs of Animal Health Australia 5 30 - 70
Eradication of Red Imported Fire Ant 5 10 70 20
Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme 5 60 10 30
National Cattle Disease Eradication—Interest on Special Account 5 30 - 70
National Cattle Disease Eradication Trust Account Act 1991 5 30 - 70
National Livestock Identification System 5 40 40 20
Other Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme—Bill 1 5 60 10 20
Payment to CSIRO—Contribution to the operating costs of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory 5 30 - 70
Payment to CSIRO—Contribution to the operating costs of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory 5 70 10 20
Departmental programs and initiatives
Regional technical assistance and capacity building 2 85 15 -
Other Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme—Bill 2 2 85 15 -
Other Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme—Bill 2 50 30 20
Eradication of electric ant 30 10 60
Eradication of branched broomrape 80 - 20
Eradication of Siam weed 50 10 40
Eradication of exotic weeds in Queensland 20 20 60
Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement 30 - 70
Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed 30 - 70
Table 50 Legislation administered by the Department contributing to ESD
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Act 1994
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Administration Act 1992
Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994
Fisheries Management Act 1991
Fisheries Administration Act 1991
Quarantine Act 1908
    Quarantine Proclamation 1998
    Quarantine (Christmas Island) Proclamation 2004
    Quarantine (Cocos Islands) Proclamation 2004
    Quarantine Regulations 2000
    Quarantine Service Fees Determination 2005
    Quarantine Service Fees (Australia Post) Determination 2005
    Notice of Declaration of a Special Quarantine Zone
Natural Resource Management (Financial Assistance) Act 1992
Primary Industries and Energy Research and Development (PIERD) Act 1989
Regional Forest Agreements Act 2002.
Figure 19 Economic, social and environmental contributions of programmes
Economic contributions

Market access

Australian Made, Australian Grown campaign (Output 3)
European Agricultural Reform Advocacy Strategy (Output 4)
AQIS Export Meat Programme (Output 6)
Better trade access for citrus to China; live animal exports to Turkey,
Pakistan, Russia, Libya; citrus and other fruit to Taiwan and the US; and others (Output 4)

Industry reform

Sugar Industry Reform Programme (Output 3)
National Food Industry Strategy (Output 3)
Vegvision 2020 (Output 3)
Dairy Industry Restructure Package (Output 3)
Fishing Structural Adjustment Package (Output 3)
Tobacco Grower Adjustment Assistance Programme (Output 3)

Social contributions


National Biotechnology Strategy (Output 2)
Fishing Structural Adjustment Package (Output 3)
Fisheries Resources Research Fund (Output 3)
Human capital
FarmBis and Targeted Industry Initiative (Output 2)
Farm Help (Output 2)
Rural Financial Counselling Service (Output 2)
Farm Management Deposits scheme (Output 2)
Industry Partnerships Programme (Output 2)
Social capital
Industry Partnerships Programme (Output 2)
Securing our Fishing Future (Output 3)


Rural communities
Exceptional Circumstances assistance (Output 2)
Tasmanian Community Forest Strategy (Output 3)
Indigenous communities
National Indigenous Forestry Strategy (Output 3)


Food safety
National Food Industry Strategy (Output 3)
Food Export Programme (Output 6)
Australian Biosecurity System (Biosecurity Australia)

Environmental contributions

Agricultural land

Productive capacity
National Landcare Programme (Output 1)
Natural Heritage Trust—Pathways to Industry EMS Programme (Output 1)
National Agriculture and Climate Change Action Plan 2006–2009 (Output 1)
National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (Output 1)
Strategic Tree Farming Initiative (Output 1)
Pests and weeds
Defeating the Weed Menace programme (Output 1)
Australian Pest Animal Strategy (Output 5)
National Fruit Fly Strategy (Output 5)
Australian Fumigation Accreditation Scheme (Output 6)
Animal and plant health
National Plant Health Strategy (Output 5)
Securing the Future Programme (Output 5)
Other Exotic Disease Preparedness Programme (Output 5)
Avian Influenza Programme (Output 5)
National Animal Health Surveillance Strategy (Output 5)
Registration of agricultural and veterinary chemicals (Output 5)
Animal welfare
Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (Output 5)
Live Animal Trade Programme (Output 4)
Biodiversity conservation
Native Vegetation Regional Pilot Projects Initiative (Output 1)


Productive capacity
Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (Output 3)
Biodiversity conservation
Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement (Output 3)
Illegal Logging Strategy (Output 3)

Aquatic systems (freshwater and marine)

Productive capacity
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (Output 1)
Global information system on high seas fishing vessels (Output 1)
Fisheries Resources Research Fund (Output 3)
Securing our Fishing Future (Outputs 1, 3)
Biodiversity conservation
Shark plans (Output 1)
Securing our Fishing Future (Outputs 1, 3)
National Seals Strategy (Output 7)
Fishing gear modifications (Output 7)


Water quantity
Rice Industry Environmental Champions Programme (Output 1)
Water quality
National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (Output 1)

Our contributions to ESD through our internal operations

The Greenhouse Challenge Plus Programme is a joint voluntary initiative between the Australian Government and industry, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting international reduction targets. Participating businesses sign an agreement with the government, providing a framework for taking abatement actions and reporting on them. The then Secretary signed the Greenhouse Challenge cooperative agreement with the Australian Greenhouse Office in April 2004.

In line with the requirements of the Greenhouse Challenge, we monitor the levels of our greenhouse gas emissions and report them annually to the Greenhouse Office through OSCAR (the Online System for Comprehensive Activity Reporting).

Many actions described in the Department’s Greenhouse Challenge Plus action plan continued during 2006–07, including the automatic mechanism to turn off lights at lunchtime and in the evenings, the provision of bins for recycling paper and the purchase of 5% of electricity consumption as Greenpower.

We ran recycling programmes, including for cans, glass and plastics in the Edmund Barton Building, to supplement our normal practices of paper recycling, paper reuse and double-sided photocopying in our copy centre. Used printer and toner cartridges are generally sent for recycling.

The Department bought 30,121 reams of paper through the copy centre in 2006–07, a decrease of 1.27% from the previous year. Of all the paper bought by the Department during the year, 98.3% had a minimum recycled component of 10%. Our copy centre undertakes photocopying for external clients using this paper, and also produces writing pads from recycled paper.

We estimate that more than 80% of discarded paper in the Edmund Barton Building is collected for recycling. Double-sided printing is available on photocopiers, which can also be used for printing from the data network. The copy centre estimates that 70% of its orders for photocopying are for double-sided output.

We have also established a car pool register on our internal website to encourage people to share transport, especially to and from work.

The Department’s property portfolio comprises 119 sites across Australia and the Torres Strait, taking up approximately 160,000 square metres. The properties range from corporate offices and storage facilities to special-purpose buildings, such as laboratories, quarantine stations and dog kennels. At 38,247 square metres, the Edmund Barton Building in Canberra is the largest.

The Department continues to review its environmental management to ensure compliance with international standards. In 2006–07, we considered implementing an EMS for some of our larger premises. A further assessment of cost-effectiveness is needed before we commit funds and resources to this project.

Energy-saving initiatives during 2006–07 included user control over office lighting, considerable use of bicycles for transport to work and strong moves towards electronic publishing. Energy consumption in the Edmund Barton Building was again below the 2003 target of 10,000 megajoules per person per year, including 5% Greenpower, and is expected to fall even further below this target when we move to our new accommodation.

Fuel consumption by the Department’s vehicle fleet averaged 13.37 litres per 100 kilometres in 2006–07 (up slightly from 13.10 litres in 2005–06).

Photo of Executive Management Team inspecting work on the new DAFF building development

New premises in Canberra

We will relocate most of our Canberra-based operations to two new buildings in Civic by the end of 2007. We aim to achieve an overall 4.5 star Australian Building Greenhouse Rating for the buildings, which will be fitted out using energy-efficient and environmentally friendly sustainable materials, goods and services.

The design of the new buildings incorporates the latest office standards outlined in the Department of the Environment and Water Resources’ ESD design guide for Australian Government buildings and the latest commercial office tenancy industry standards. Features will include:

  • use of low volatile organic compounds and low formaldehyde materials to minimise gas emissions and improve air quality
  • rainwater collection for reuse (an expected 30% saving in water consumption)
  • stormwater retention and reuse for irrigation, washdown and cooling towers
  • no flush/waterless urinals and 4A-rated toilets flushed with rainwater
  • infrared sensors for hand taps, which will operate only when hands are under the spout
  • air vents to purge the air at night.

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