Question by leader6

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									Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                               Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                   1                                           Question No:        54
Output:                    1.5.3 and 1.2.4
Division/Agency:           Supervising Scientist Division
Topic:                     Office of the Supervising Scientist’s
                           administration
Hansard Page ECITA:        Written Question on Notice


Senator Birmingham asked:
   (a) Did the Office seek an exemption from the application of the one-off two per cent
       efficiency dividend?
   (b) If so, why did the Office feel it needed to apply for this exemption, to whom did it
       apply and was the exemption granted?
   (c) If the efficiency dividend applies, how will the Office manage the funding cut and
       what, if any, programs will be cut to accommodate it? Can the Office outline the
       source [e.g. the Minister, the Department of Finance and Deregulation] of any
       suggested savings measures?
   (d) Is the Office budgeting for an operating loss and, if so, is it because of the application
       of the efficiency dividend?
   (e) Has the Office made in the last six months any request, in accordance with the
       Financial Management and Accountability Act, for Regulation 10 Authority from the
       Finance Minister? If so, why was this authority sought?
   (f) What is the total number of permanent staff employed on a:
        (i) full-time basis?
        (ii) part-time basis?
        (iii) part-time equivalent basis?
   (g) How many employees are employed on contract and what is the average length of
       their employment period?
   (h) What are the base and top level salaries of:
        (i) APS level 1 to 6 officers?
        (ii) Executive level officers?
        (iii) Senior Executive Services officers?
        (iv) Equivalent officers employed?
   (i) How many officers are employed at executive level and SES level?
   (j) How many permanent staff have been recruited since 26 November 2007? What level
       are these staff?
   (k) How many temporary positions exist or have been created since 26 November?
   (l) Since 26 November, how many employees have been employed on contract and what
       is the average length of their employment period?
   (m) Does the Office monitor the media?
   (n) How much has been spent on media monitoring to date this year?
   (o) Is any information provided to the Minister?
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
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  (p) How many employees are engaged in positions responsible for public affairs, media
      management, liaison with the media and media monitoring?
  (q) What are the APS classifications of these positions?
  (r) What is the current operating budget for these media-related sections?
  (s) What appointments have been made by the Government (through Executive Council,
      Cabinet and Ministers) to Statutory Authorities, Executive Agencies and Advisory
      Boards?
  (t) What are the respective appointees’ credentials?
  (u) How many vacancies remain to be filled by Ministerial (including Cabinet and
      Executive Council) appointments?
  (v) How long have the positions been vacant?
  (w) What grants which have been approved by Ministers from within their portfolio?
  (x) Has the Office received any advice on how to respond to freedom of information
      (FOI) requests?
  (y) How many FOI requests has the Commission received?
  (z) How many have been granted or denied?
  (aa)       How many conclusive certificates have been issued in relation to FOI
      requests?

Answers:
  (a) The Supervising Scientist Division is a division within the department. The
      efficiency dividend issue has been managed at the departmental level and the answers
      previously given in response to written QoN 21 refer.
  (b) See (a) above
  (c) See (a) above
  (d) No.
  (e) No.
  (f) Total number of permanent staff employed by the Supervising Scientist Division on a:
          (i) full-time basis is 41
          (ii) part-time basis is 6
          (iii) part-time equivalent basis is nil.
  (g) A total of 10 staff are currently employed on a contract basis and the average length
      of employment period is six months.
  (h) Salary levels are consistent with those paid elsewhere in the department and the
      answer previously given in response to written QoN 23 refers.
  (i) There are 15 staff employed at the Executive and equivalent levels and 2 staff
      employed at the SES level.
  (j) A total of 3 permanent staff have been employed since 26 November 2007 at the EL2,
      APS3 and APS4 levels.
  (k) A total of 10 temporary positions currently exist. Three of these have been created
      since November 2007.
  (l) Since 26 November 2007 a total of 4 staff have been employed on contract with an
      average employment period of 8.25 months.
  (m) Yes.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                            Answers to questions on notice
                Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                             Budget Estimates, May 2008


  (n) Nil. Covered by the Department.
  (o) No.
  (p) Two staff members have duty statements that include responsibility for media
      monitoring and handling media enquires as a minor part of their duties.
  (q) EL 1, APS 6.
  (r) Nil.
  (s) The Division provides secretariat support for two advisory bodies, the Alligator
      Rivers Region Technical Committee (ARRTC) and the Alligator Rivers Region
      Advisory Committee (ARRAC). Members of these Committees are appointed by the
      Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. No members have been
      appointed by the Minister since 26 November 2007.
  (t) Members of ARRAC are nominated by the relevant stakeholder organisations.
      ARRTC includes a number of independent scientific members nominated by the
      Federation of Australian Scientific and Technical Societies (FASTS) and other
      members nominated by relevant stakeholder organisations.
  (u) Vacancies on these committees arise from time to time due to staff changes in
      stakeholder organisations. Currently, there are four changes of membership pending
      for ARRAC and one for ARRTC.
  (v) Up to four months.
  (w) Nil.
  (x) The Division has not received any advice on how to respond to FOI requests other
      than the guidance set out in the Department’s FOI Manual.
  (y) The Division has not received any FOI requests.
  (z) Not Applicable
  (aa)        Not Applicable
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                 Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                  Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                   1                                         Question No:       106
Output:                    1.5
Division/Agency:           AWD
Topic:                     National Heritage – Kimberley region
                           – Gaffney and Cline Report
Hansard Page ECITA:        63 (29 May)


Senator Siewert asked:
Could you tell me whether the federal government has a copy of the Gaffney and Cline report
to the northern development task force? Is it possible for someone to check for me, and if you
have it can you table it?

Answer:
Gaffney, Cline and Associates are preparing a series of three reports for the Western
Australian (WA) Northern Development Taskforce (NDT) titled Browse Basin Gas Technical
Report Development Options Study. As part of the inter governmental process, the
Department has copies of these various draft reports.

The NDT has advised that once finalised the reports will be released publicly. Timing of
release is a matter for the WA Government.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                  Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                   Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                    1                                        Question No:       109
Output:                     1.5
Division/Agency:            AWD
Topic:                      Traveston Crossing Dam
Hansard Page ECITA:         Written Question on Notice


Senator Ian Macdonald asked:
Minister Wong, do not get up—because you will take it on notice, I know— but
   a) Could you ask Mr Garrett for me what meetings he has had with the Queensland
       Premier or any Queensland minister regarding the Traveston Crossing Dam?
   b) What other meetings he has had with any of the main players, if I can call them that,
       in the Traveston Crossing Dam debate? I read in the paper that he met with the Mary
       River catchment conservation group, I think it is called. If you can get for me from Mr
       Garrett a list of the people he has met with in Queensland in relation to the Traveston
       Crossing Dam, I would appreciate that.
   c) Do you have any concerns about the activity which is continuing in an area that still
       has not got Commonwealth Approval?

Answer/s:
   a) Minister Garrett has not met with the Queensland Premier or any Queensland
      Ministers regarding the Traveston Crossing Dam.

   b) Minister Garrett met with the following people in relation to Traveston Crossing Dam
      during his site visit on 3 March 2008:

         Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd
             Graeme Newton - CEO
             Dr Lee Benson - General Manager Environment
             David Murray - Senior Project Manager, Dams
             Lesley Morris - Project Director (SKM consultant)

         Queensland Government Officials
             Gerard Coggan - Department of Infrastructure & Planning
             Peter Sylvester - Department of Infrastructure & Planning
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                             Answers to questions on notice
                Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
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      Local Government and Community Representatives
          David Gibson MP [QLD] – Shadow Minister for Sustainability, Climate
             Change and Innovation, Member for Gympie
          Bob Abbot – Mayor, Sunshine Coast Regional Council
          Mick Vernados – then mayor of the former Cooloola Shire Council
          Greg Rogerson – former local council representative
          Bob Fredman – local council employee
          Max Winders – consultant to Mary River Council of Mayors
          Kevin Ingersole – Save the Mary River Coordinating Group (STMRCG)
          Brad Wedlock – Mary River Catchment Coordination Committee (MRCCC)
          Glenda Pickersgill – STMRCG/MRCCC
          Steve Burgess – STMRCG/MRCCC
          Craig & Gabrielle Latta – Australian Freshwater Turtle Conservation and
             Research Association
          Roger Currie – Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council

  c) The Department is aware that various investigative geotechnical and other works have
     been undertaken by the proponent to inform the environmental impact assessment
     process and other design related aspects of the proposal. The Department was notified
     of these activities, however such works are not considered part of the action referred
     for the purposes of assessment and approval under the EPBC Act, which is the
     construction and operation of the Traveston Crossing Dam.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                 Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                  Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                   1                                         Question No:        110
Output:                    1.5
Division/Agency:           Approvals and Wildlife Division
Topic:                     Wielangta Court Case
Hansard Page ECITA:        69 (29 May)


Senator Abetz asked:
Senator ABETZ—Sorry, with great respect, I am aware of all that having been a lawyer.
Time is of the essence and I do not want to be rude, but you are telling me that no further
costs have been incurred since the figure of $365,329.21 has been spent by the department?
Mr Burnett—Senator, that is not a figure that I am familiar with.
Senator ABETZ—Could you please take that on notice with, then?
Mr Burnett—Yes.
Senator ABETZ—The department of agriculture has told me that, apart from the costs
associated with the legal action, for the department’s specific legal advice they have
expended $108,316.71 on this case. Can your department please provide us with the amount
they have spent in the category of department-specific legal advice on this case?
Mr Burnett—Yes, Senator. Just for clarification, the costs you are referring to are court
costs?
Senator ABETZ—That is right, and the department-specific legal advice on the matter.
Mr Burnett—Advice for which we have received a bill, Senator?
Senator ABETZ—Or that you have somehow costed or are able to cost internally. Take it on
notice. I assume you do not necessarily have that figure. This was an answer provided I forget
when, but it was a question I asked on 19 February in the agriculture portfolio that it was 50-
50 between the departments. What is the final figure in relation to costs and also department-
specific legal advice in this matter? As an intervener, are you able to seek costs?
Mr Burnett—My understanding is generally no, Senator. But I will take that on notice as
well.

Answer/s:
DEWHA has expended $400,742.56 in relation to Brown v Forestry Tasmania TAD 17 of
2005 (Federal Court hearing), Forestry Tasmania v Brown TAD 4 of 2007 (Federal Court
appeal) and Brown v Forestry Tasmania H1 of 2008 (High Court special leave application).
In addition, DEWHA has expended $35,120.50 in Department specific legal advice arising
from, but not for the conduct of, these cases.

The Commonwealth was an intervener in the two Federal Court proceedings and the Court
order allowing the Commonwealth to appear as an intervener was on the basis that the
Commonwealth would not seek costs from any party.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                  Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                   Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                    1                                        Question No:        111
Output:                     1.5
Division/Agency:            Approvals & Wildlife Division
Topic:                      Clyde River – Lake Crescent,
                            Tasmania
Hansard Page ECITA:         71 (29 May)


Senator Abetz asked:
Since his decision [to refuse approval of the release of irrigation water from Lake Crescent],
has the state government made further representations to Minister Garrett indicating to him
that his decision was not soundly based? Will Minister Garrett be reconsidering his decision
in the light of that which the state Labor Government is asserting?

Answer/s:
Although there has been further correspondence from Tasmania on this topic, the Tasmanian
Government has not made representations to Minister Garrett indicating that his decision of 9
May 2008 was not soundly based.

The State Government did not request a reconsideration of the Minister’s decision of
9 May 2008. The Minister will not be reconsidering the decision.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                   Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                    Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                     1                                         Question No:        112
Output:                      1.5
Division/Agency:             Approvals & Wildlife Division
Topic:                       Lake Crescent, Tasmania
Hansard Page ECITA:          Written Question on Notice (48)


Senator Abetz asked:
   (a) Can the department outline the drop in water levels (in millimetres) in Lakes Crescent
       and Sorell if the amount of water being requested by the Clyde River Poppy Farmers
       was released from Lakes Crescent and Sorell?
   (b) Given that a missed one year of irrigation for the Poppy Farmers on the Clyde River
       will adversely affect the farming community in the area, how was the advice of the
       Tasmanian Government taken into account which states “…DPIW has suggested that
       a missed breeding season in 2008 may not be critical to the survival of the
       species…”?
   (c) Will the Federal Government consider a review of this decision or referring the matter
       to the Tasmanian Government? (EPBC 2007/3865 – Release of irrigation water from
       Lake Crescent, Tasmania).

Answer/s:
   (a)      The immediate effect of the irrigation release on water levels is not known to the
            Department. As the releases would have occurred over time, the drop in water
            level resulting from the releases would have depended on the level of rainfall over
            this time and the possible managed movement of water between the lakes. The
            Minister’s decision was based on the criticality of the level of the lakes and
            medium to long-term modelling of water levels undertaken by the Tasmanian
            Government rather than on a specific estimate of the level by which either lake
            would have been drawn down in the short term.
   (b)      All advice from the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water on
            the potential impacts of the proposal was taken into account in the Department’s
            Recommendation Report under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
            Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). In making his decision to refuse approval of
            the irrigation release, Minister Garrett carefully considered the relevant matters of
            national environmental significance and the social and economic impact of the
            proposal, as required by the EPBC Act.
   (c)      The State Government did not request a reconsideration of the Minister’s decision
            of 9 May 2008. The Minister will not be reconsidering the decision.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                  Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                   Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                    1                                          Question No:        113
Output:                     1.5
Division/Agency:            Approvals and Wildlife Division
Topic:                      Striped Legless Lizard
Hansard Page ECITA:         Written Question on Notice


Senator Birmingham and Senator Nash asked:
Are you aware of concerns about the impact of the North South Pipeline project on the
striped legless lizard, growling grass frog, spotted tail quoll and the matted flax lily? What is
the current status of any environmental impact statements into the North South Pipeline?

Answers:
Yes, the Department is currently working with the Victorian Department of Sustainability
and Environment to ensure that the assessment of potential impacts on matters protected
under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, including these
species, are fully addressed and that, if the project is approved, appropriate management
measures are in place.

The Project Impact Assessment Report, prepared under the Victorian Planning and
Environment Act 1987 is complete. The report and the associated recommendations made by
the independent Advisory Committee are under consideration by both the Victorian and
Australian Governments.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                 Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                  Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                   1                                       Question No:       114
Output:                    1.5
Division/Agency:           Approvals and Wildlife Division
Topic:                     Tas Devil Facial Tumours
Hansard Page ECITA:        Written Question on Notice


Senator Abetz asked:
   a) How much money has been spent, or has been promised to be spent on the devil facial
      tumour, either by the Environment Department or other Commonwealth departments
      in the financial years 05/06, 06/07, 07/08, 08/09 and 09/10?
   b) With the monies that have been allocated, please advise where those monies have
      been directed and the specific nature of each project so funded.
   c) Who supervises these projects and what assessments have been made to date as to the
      results?

Answers:
   a) The Australian Government contributed $1M in 05/06, $1M in 06/07, $1M in 07/08,
      and has announced proposed expenditure of $2M in each of 08/09, 09/10, 10/11,
      11/12 and 12/13 for the conservation of the Tasmanian Devil.
   b) The monies have been directed into the Save the Tasmanian Devil program,
      established jointly with the Tasmanian Government. Investment under the
      collaborative Save the Tasmanian Devil program is guided by strategic and business
      plans under the direction of a Steering Committee, of which the Australian
      Government is a member. The program aims to maintain the genetic diversity of the
      Tasmanian Devil, its population in the wild, and to prevent ecological impacts of a
      reduced Tasmanian Devil population. Projects funded under the program include;
      disease suppression and population studies, implementation of insurance population
      strategy, and disease treatment and suppression.
   c) The Steering Committee is informed by regular progress reports from project
      managers, and assesses the results and performance of projects at quarterly meetings.
      Day to day management of the program is provided by the Tasmanian Department of
      Primary Industries, Water and Environment.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                 Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                  Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                   1                                         Question No:              115
Output:                    1.5
Division/Agency:           Approvals and Wildlife Division
Topic:                     EBPC Act
Hansard Page ECITA:        Written Question on Notice


Senator Siewert asked:
   (a)    Is the Government planning to review the effectiveness of the EPBC Act?
   (b)    If so, please provide Terms of Reference for the review, what are the proposed
          timeframe for the review?

Answer:
   (a)    Section 522A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
          (EPBC Act) requires that the Act be independently reviewed before 16 July 2010.
          Section 522A requires an examination of the operation of the Act and the extent to
          which its objects have been achieved. The Government will ensure that this
          statutory obligation is complied with.

   (b)    The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts will announce Terms of
          Reference in due course.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                 Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                    1 and 3                                 Question No:       116
Output:                     1.5 and 3.1
Division/Agency:            Approvals and Wildlife Division
Topic:                      North South Pipeline
Hansard Page ECITA:         Written Question on Notice


Senator Birmingham and Senator Nash asked:
a)       What work, reviews, inquiries or discussions has the Government and the Murray-
         Darling Basin Commission had in relation to the Victorian Government’s project to
         pump water from the Goulburn River system to the Sugarloaf Reservoir, known as the
         North-South Pipeline? Please outline work undertaken.
b)       Will reports be publicly available? If so, when? If not, why not?
c)       Will the Government be providing any funding for infrastructure, planning or
         associated works to the Victorian Government for any work on the North-South
         Pipeline?
d)       If the North South Pipeline was completed today, how much water would be available
         to the Victorian Government, under the drought contingency rules agreed to by the
         States and Australian Government, to augment Melbourne’s water supply from the
         Murray Darling Basin?
e)       Would the Government agree to a new classification of critical human needs for water
         supply to ensure that the North-South Pipeline is not a white elephant in times of
         drought?

Answers:
a)   No work has been initiated by the Government with the Murray-Darling Basin
     Commission on the proposed pipeline. The proposed pipeline has been referred to the
     Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts for assessment and an
     approval decision as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity
     Conservation Act 1999. The Department has accredited the Victorian Government’s
     assessment process, as is provided for by the EPBC Act to allow a single assessment
     report. Once consideration of the assessment report and the associated
     recommendations made by the independent Advisory Committee is complete it will be
     submitted to the Minister for his decision on whether to approve the project and, if
     approved, with what conditions.

     The Department is working with the Department of Climate Change and relevant
     Victorian Government experts from the Department of Sustainability and Environment.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
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b)   During the referral and assessment of the Sugarloaf Pipeline project under the EPBC
     Act a number of documents have been made publicly available, including:
      referral documentation
      notice of referral decision
      terms of reference for accredited assessment
      Project Impact Assessment Report (prepared under the Victorian Planning and
            Environment Act 1987)
     In accordance with its terms of reference, the expert Advisory Committee appointed by
     the Victorian Government has prepared a report on its findings, which has been
     presented to the Minister and the Victorian Minister for Planning and Community
     Development, the Hon Justin Madden. It is the Victorian Government’s decision
     whether or not to make this report public.

c)   No.

d)   The share of water allocated to the Sugarloaf Pipeline is one-third of total audited water
     savings achieved by improving irrigation efficiency through the Foodbowl
     Modernisation Project, Stage 1, to a maximum of 75 gigalitres per annum. A one-off
     allocation of 75 gigalitres of water, sourced from other savings in the system, will be
     reserved in Lake Eildon to supply the pipeline during the interim period between its
     completion and the realisation of the Foodbowl irrigation efficiency savings.

e)   In its 3 July 2008 Agreement on Murray-Darling Basin Reform, the Council of
     Australian Governments agreed to a definition of critical human water needs. The
     Basin States further agreed to use their best endeavours to provide for critical human
     water needs through the Commonwealth Water Act 2007.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                   Answers to questions on notice
                    Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                    Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                     1                                         Question No:       117
Output:                      1.5
Division/Agency:             Approvals and Wildlife Division
Topic:                       Vic Desalination Plant
Hansard Page ECITA:          Written Question on Notice


Senator Siewert asked:
(a)      Has the Department considered the environmental impact of the proposed Victorian
         desalination plant?
(b)      Will the Department be considering the environmental impact of the proposed
         Victorian desalination plant?
(c)      Is the Department aware of concerns that the proposed desalination plant will inflict
         damage on the local terrestrial and marine environments?

Answers:
(a)      The Victorian Desalination Project was determined a controlled action on
         4 February 2008 which means that it will require assessment and approval under the
         Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
(b)      Yes, the Australian Government’s assessment will consider the environmental
         impacts of the proposal on matters of national environmental significance.
(c)      Yes.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                 Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                  Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                   1                                         Question No:       118
Output:                    1.5
Division/Agency:           EQD
Topic:                     Plastic bags
Hansard Page ECITA:         72 (29 May)


Senator Birmingham asked:
What volume of plastic bags were estimated to go into the litter stream under each of the
models you have just costed, Ms Harwood?

Answer:
The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) estimated the impact of the various models as
follows:
     Ban – The economic modelling assumes a ban would reduce bag litter by 100%,
       however, the RIS also notes that a ban would be likely to involve exemptions, such as
       for health and safety purposes. Such exemptions have the potential to mean bags
       would still be provided for many transactions, hence limiting the reduction in bag
       litter that would be achieved.
     Australian Government Levy 10c– 80%
       Australian Government Levy 20c– 90%
       Australian Government Levy 25c– 99%+
     Mandatory Retailer Charge 10c– 80%
       Mandatory Retailer Charge 20c– 90%
       Mandatory Retailer Charge 25c– 99%+
     Litter Management –50% (achieved through a combination of litter clean-up and litter
       prevention).
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                 Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                  Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                   1                                         Question No:       119
Output:                    1.5
Division/Agency:           EQD
Topic:                     Plastic bags
Hansard Page ECITA:         73 (29 May)


Senator Birmingham asked:
Minister, does the government still have a policy position of phasing out plastic bag usage?

Answer:
As indicated by Minister Wong at the Senate Estimates hearing, the Australian Government’s
policy position on plastic bags is to seek to work through the Environment Protection and
Heritage Council on this issue, exploring options for the phase-out of single-use lightweight
plastic bags.
Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts Committee
                                  Answers to questions on notice
                   Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio
                                   Budget Estimates, May 2008



Outcome:                    1                                          Question No:        171
Output:                     1.5
Division/Agency:            Approvals and Wildlife Division
Topic:                      Binningup Desalination Plant
Hansard Page ECITA:         75 (29 May)


Senator Corman asked:
Senator CORMANN—Thank you, Madam Chairman. Before I get into a series of questions
about pre-election commitments on water as they relate to my home state of Western
Australia, I would just like to touch on an issue that I have received representations on from
the federal member for Forrest, Nola Marino, which are really a bridge between conservation
and water. They relate to the state government’s plan in Western Australia to establish a
second desalination plant in Binningup, north of Bunbury in Western Australia …

… I understand there is a federal environmental assessment as part of the process. I would be
interested in some information as to the timing for the process, whether you are assessing
threats to whales as part of that assessment, whether the minister intends to visit the site and
meet with concerned local community members and whether the minister would request that
priority be given to cleaning up and recycling the 100 billion litres of sewage that is currently
being dumped off the coast of Western Australia rather than pursuing desalination. These are
essentially the representations that I have received from the member for Forrest…

Answers:
The Binningup Desalination Plant (2008/4173) was determined to be a controlled action
under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 on 21 May 2008,
with assessment under a Public Environment Report process. The timing of the assessment
process depends on when the proponent responds to the requirements of the assessment
process. Impacts on migratory species, such as whales, have been included in the terms of
reference for the Public Environment Report.

There are no plans at this stage for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts to
visit the site or meet with local community members.

Decisions relating to management of sewage and investment in desalination plants are
matters for the Western Australian Government.

								
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