All states and territories have joined with the Commonwealth in reaching agreement on several high profile environmental issues.
At a meeting of state and territory environment ministers I chaired this week, crucial progress was made towards finalising the National Clean Air Agreement, prioritising the development of a national recovery plan for koalas, and taking action on feral cats.
I am delighted with the progress towards establishing a National Clean Air Agreement.
We have committed to finalise the Agreement and its initial work plan before the end of 2015, over six months ahead of schedule. The Agreement will deliver actions to reduce air pollution and establish a new process for jurisdictions to work cooperatively to address emerging air quality issues, to ensure Australians continue to enjoy clean air into the future.
Recent public consultations to inform the development of the Agreement saw broad and positive engagement from industry and the community with over 300 submissions received, highlighting the importance of air quality as a key issue in Australia.
My colleagues and I agreed in-principle to two key actions under the Agreement’s initial work plan.
In recognising the health impacts of airborne particles, it is our intent to strengthen the reporting standards for particles (PM2.5 and PM10) in the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure.
We agreed in-principle to adopt annual average and daily PM2.5 reporting standards of 8 µg/m3 and 25 µg/m3, respectively, with a move to 7 µg/m3 and 20 µg/m3 in the longer term.
We also signalled our intention to establish pollution standards for new non-road spark ignition engines, such as garden equipment and marine outboard motors. As a next step, a working group of experts will be established to provide advice on the design of standards with the aim of implementing framework legislation in the first half of 2016.
In another long-heralded move, ministers agreed that, as a priority, the Commonwealth lead the development of a recovery plan for the koala. As a result the Commonwealth and Victoria will co-lead work on national koala translocation guidelines, consistent with the koala recovery plan and in consultation with relevant jurisdictions, with a focus on health, welfare and genetic implications of translocations.
Last but by no means least, I am especially delighted that ministers endorsed the national declaration in relation to feral cats.
This means that all states and territories will now review arrangements within their respective jurisdictions and, where required, remove unnecessary barriers to effective and humane control of feral cats.
This opens the doorway for new feral cat eradication programmes to access the $50 million for management of established pest animals recently announced as part of the national Agriculture Competitiveness White Paper.
The communiqué is available online: http://www.environment.gov.au/about-us/mem