Time for the ‘green tape’ debate to mature: jobs and the environment are not implacable foes

Originally Published by The Conversation 25 August 2015, Allan Dale.

The highly charged debate over the proposed Carmichael coal mine, which culminated in Attorney-General George Brandis’s decision last week to propose winding back environmental legal protections, has exposed the simmering tension between “jobs” and “the environment” on Australia’s political landscape.

On one hand, those seeking to invest in the development of Australia’s natural resources and jobs growth have been making a clear case that Australia’s system of assessment and approval for major projects is riddled with procedural uncertainty.

Tinkering with the law is likely to entrench positions on both sides of the ‘green tape’ debate. AAP Image/Supplied

Tinkering with the law is likely to entrench positions on both sides of the ‘green tape’ debate. AAP Image/Supplied

On the other, environmental advocates and local communities feel that the current system does not adequately protect the environment – correctly pointing out Australia’s less than stellar record in preventing species from going extinct.

As a nation, however, we need to lift our game on both fronts.

Investors in the Australian economy and those seeking jobs and growth need certainty with regard to where and how they invest.

Equally, to avoid warfare (or “lawfare”) on a project-by-project basis, Australia’s environmental advocates and local communities need certainty too. They need clarity about where and how economic development can occur without harming our environmental heritage.

View the full article here.

Director of AURIN, Andrew Dingjan to present on ‘Harnessing Data to Support Regional Development’

Andrew Dingjan, Director of AURIN to present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

The Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation.

Andrew Dingjan

Andrew Dingjan

Speaker Introduction: Andrew was appointed Director of AURIN in March 2015.

He joined from CSIRO where he worked for 9 years in executive level business, technology commercialisation and research management leadership positions. Having worked across CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Health Flagships and led a research team within CSIRO’s Mathematics and Statistics Division, Andrew’s contributions were substantial. Most recently as CSIRO Senior Technical Advisor to Boeing where he successfully negotiated and executed a $25million/5 year strategic research alliance, in the process, identifying an opportunity for a new line of business for CSIRO in network enabled manufacturing. Prior to that, as Research Theme Leader for the Decision Technologies Theme, Andrew successfully led the first forays for CSIRO’s decision sciences into the business & government ‘services economy’ resulting in the $20 million/ 3 year Department of Human Services (Centrelink) contract and the $6 million/3 year CSIRO-Monash Superannuation Research Cluster. In 2012 Andrew was corecipient of the CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement for his role in the successful commercialisation and licensing of a new aerospace technology.

Prior to joining CSIRO Andrew held Group Executive Level Marketing roles with a number of Australia’s largest financial institutions, including ANZ. His passion for R&D driven innovation was reinforced early on as Communications and Policy advisor to Australia’s original applied R&D business, Invetech Vision Systems. During this time Andrew was active in re-focussing debate in Australian industry on R&D investment levels as a percentage of revenue turnover and encouraging increased expenditure on product and process innovation as a means of achieving business advantage.

Andrew attended the University of Melbourne, was a resident of Trinity College, and graduated with a BA (Hons). He earned his MBA from RMIT University’s Graduate School of Management. He holds a Diploma in Corporate Management from the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators/Australian Graduate School of Management and is a 2013 graduate from the Boeing Executive leadership Program at the Boeing Leadership Centre in St Louis, Missouri.

Presentation Title: Harnessing Data to Support Regional Development: An Australian Case Study
Co-Author: John Barton, Urban Data and eResearch Officerat AURIN

Overview: As the environmental and demographic pressures are placed on our rural and regional communities, there is need for ambitious approaches to provide the right data and analytical tools to support smart regional growth and planning. This paper introduces the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network which is currently enabling a network of researchers, planners and policy-makers from across Australia in evidence-based decision making, via access to an online workbench of data and tools. The workbench comprises of almost 2,000 datasets, over 100 spatial statistical routines, and a select number of planning support systems and geodesign tools. We will outline the data and analytical capability the online workbench, introduce a couple of the PSS tools and spatial statistical capabilities through a case-study approach which can be applied to the Australian regional context. We also discuss the user outreach and capacity building capability program which is a critical component to assist with user adoption. We conclude with some thoughts and suggestions on how previously urban-focussed research programs can be re-prioritised to support excellent decision making in our peri-urban, regional and remote communities.

About the Conference
The Australian Regional Development Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. The 2015 theme is “Redefining the Future of Regional Australia”, it will explore the issues and opportunities facing Regional Australia today and into the future.

Concurrent streams will focus on the following topics:

  • Sustainability / Renewables
  • Population Movements
  • Community Development
  • Government Policy
  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

To view and/or download the Australian Regional Development Conference program please click here.

Director of MRA Consulting, Mike Ritchie to present on Waste Trends and Regionalisation

Mike Ritchie, Director of MRA Consulting will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held in Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Mike Ritchie

Mike Ritchie

Speaker Introduction: Mike Ritchie is the Director of MRA consulting where his 20 years experience in environmental policy and business development has facilitated the company’s growth in waste, resource recovery and carbon management.

Prior to launching MRA, he was National General Manager – Business Development and Marketing with SITA, General Manager of Services at Waste Service NSW and State Manager of VISY. He has worked in local government as senior advisor to the Mayor of Brisbane and as a Director of Liverpool City Council.

He was National Vice President of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA), past President of WMAA NSW, Chair of the Carbon Division of WMAA, and is current Chair of the AWT Division.

He was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Waste and Resource Recovery Governance Reform appointed by the Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change. He was a contributor to the national “Climate Change Risks to Australia’s Coast” Assessment Report.

Mike works with governments and businesses across Australia to develop innovative and cost effective waste and recycling strategies, technologies and services.

Presentation Title: Waste Trends and Regionalisation

Overview: Australia generates 46.8 MT of waste. Despite steady increases in the rate of recovery (av. 52%), the waste generated between 2002/03 and 2008/09 grew by 40%, while population increased by only 10% (SoE Report NSW, 2013). There are more of us but we are consuming proportionally more each year per person.

Waste generation has been growing at a historic average of 4-7% per year and still is. That means the amount of waste the industry has to process is doubling every ten to eighteen years. Generally, recycling is not growing at a rate fast enough to reduce waste to landfill by much.

Overall, pricing landfills, driving recycling initiatives and diverting waste back to the productive economy is neither easy nor cheap. Ultimately, it is the role of Government to decide the extent and speed of the transition from landfill to resource recovery, or not. It is the function of government to weigh the competing interests of resources, sustainability and cost. The industry is there to assist and invest where it can, once the direction is set.

One method to improve resource recovery is to consolidate regional landfills via conversion into transfer stations. Significant cost savings and environmental benefit can be realised through this process. Consolidation of these landfill assets is an easy win in terms of cost reduction and environmental improvement, including higher resource recovery rates.

The rationalisation of regional landfills can also benefit from assistance under Waste Less, Recycle More. The NSW EPA put aside $7 million to fund consolidation, closure and environmental improvements of landfills under the program.

Rationalisation of small landfill assets may also avoid the additional cost of licencing facilities under the updated NSW POEO Waste Regulations 2014, effective from November 1, 2014. Under the updated Regulations sites which accept more than 12,000 tonnes of material a year or have on site at any time more than 2,500 tonnes or 2,500 cubic metres of material will require a licence.

Beyond the cost, environmental and legal benefits of rural landfill consolidation, this rationalisation process will also centralise material volumes at larger sites. This also provides an opportunity to build new recovery infrastructure or improve the costs effectiveness of existing infrastructure via economies of scale.

About the Conference
The Australian Regional Development Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. The 2015 theme is “Redefining the Future of Regional Australia”, it will explore the issues and opportunities facing Regional Australia today and into the future.

Concurrent streams will focus on the following topics:

  • Sustainability / Renewables
  • Population Movements
  • Community Development
  • Government Policy
  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

To view and/or download the Conference program, please click here.  For information on registration or to book your delegate pass, visit the website here.

Helen Knight form Planisphere to present on ‘Landscape Character and Significance’

Helen Knight, Associate Senior Planner and Urban Designer at Planisphere to present at the Australian Regional Development Conference being held in Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Helen Knight

Helen Knight

Speaker Introduction: Helen is a senior strategic planner and urban designer with extensive experience in both consulting and local government in Australia and overseas. Helen’s experience encompasses urban design, heritage planning, landscape assessment, structure planning, urban regeneration and strategic and statutory planning, in a variety of urban, regional and rural settings.

She has a keen appreciation of the built environment and a desire to better utilise the planning system to create urban places that are sustainable, memorable and people-focused. She brings a thoughtful and conscientious approach to her work, and produces high quality written and visual products.

Helen enjoys the process of working collaboratively with clients, the community and other consultants to develop a broad strategic vision for each project. She is skilled in translating this vision into detailed built form and public realm recommendations which can be readily implemented in the planning scheme or through ongoing management practices. Her training in architecture is evident in her work and her ability to reflect this in writing is a rare talent. Helen has been actively involved in the profession previously serving as the Urban Design Convenor on the PIA (Vic) Committee.

Presentation Title: Landscape Character and Significance, affecting policy
Co-Author: Isobel Maginn, Planner and Landscape Architect at Planisphere

Overview: The presentation will focus on the Landscape Character and Significance work prepared by Planisphere for a large proportion of rural and regional Victoria including the Victorian Coastline and the majority of Western and Northern Victoria, including the many varied landscapes of desert, agricultural plains and rugged uplands.

A methodology will be presented that has been pioneered over many years involving over twenty months of comprehensive research, extensive field survey work and a broad and inclusive consultation program which presents a thorough assessment of landscape character, areas and views of significance across Victoria.

The outputs of the Study will be used by a range of councils and key government agencies to better inform decision making through a more detailed consideration of impacts, opportunities and approaches to achieve improved siting and design outcomes for development within these important landscapes.

To view and/or download the Conference program, please click here.  For information on registration or to book your delegate pass, visit the website here.

Dr Francine Rochford to present on rural depopulation and Australian policy

Dr Francine Rochford from La Trobe University will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Dr Francine Rochford

Dr Francine Rochford

Speaker Introduction: Dr Francine Rochford is a Senior Lecturer in the Law School at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia. She has written extensively on the issue of water law and policy, particularly in relation to reforms to water policy. Her recent interests in water law include the constitutional framework within which water management occurs, the historical development of current water allocation principles, comparison of water law and policy, and the human right to water. Previous water related research has considered the tortious liability of water supply authorities for contaminated water, the environmental and social impacts of water policy reform, and constraints on adaptation to emerging water policy in regional communities.

Presentation Title: Amenity commons, multifunctionality and the abandoned landscape

Overview: This presentation will continue a longstanding narrative on the theme of rural depopulation, but will focus on two Australian policy settings: the user-pays framework which is driving the curtailment of water infrastructure in irrigation areas, and the treatment of positive externalities of agriculture in comparable jurisdictions. The research argues that these two policy settings will continue the population decline in rural areas in Australia, and will also result in unmanaged negative environmental outcomes. The creation of an agrarian underclass risks environmentally damaging consequences and risks the creation of alternative opportunities for land use, including potentially the maintenance of long term social, amenity and heritage values. The utilisation of a set of mechanisms available in comparable jurisdictions could avert these consequences by creating medium term mitigation opportunities for a rural demographic affected by concentration in markets and protection by competitor nations.

About the Conference

The Australian Regional Development Conference is an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation.

Themed Redefining the Future of Regional Australia, the Conference will explore the issues and opportunities facing Regional Australia today and into the future.

To view and/or download the Conference program, please click here.  For information on registration or to book your delegate pass, visit the website here.