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 Chapter 16 - Ecologically sustainable development

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Ecologically sustainable development

The Department reports under section 516A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 on how its activities accord with, and its outcomes contribute to, the principles of ecologically sustainable development, as well as the effect of its activities on the environment.

The Department’s activities are consistent with the ecologically sustainable development principle (section 3A of the Act) that ‘decision making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations’. Further information on the environmentally sustainable development principles can be found at <http://www.environment.gov.au/esd>.

The Department also addresses the principles of ‘inter-generational equity’ and ‘improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms’ by applying the Chief Executive Instructions on Environmental Management and the Green Lease Schedule. The Department is consolidating and implementing an Environmental Management System in accordance with ISO14001. Principles b and d of section 3A of the Act, which relate to scientific certainty and biological diversity respectively, are generally of limited application to the Department’s activities.

The Department’s premises at 3–5 National Circuit are the outcome of the first Commonwealth green lease to be negotiated. Under the National Australian Built Environment Rating System, the premises have achieved a 5 star rating for energy and a 4.5 star rating for water.

The Department has implemented a number of strategies to minimise impact on the environment, including:

  • an electronic document management system to reduce the need to print and retain paper copies of most documents
  • web-based information sharing tools, such as Govdex, that reduce the need to edit, print and retain paper copies of documents
  • virtualising server hardware to reduce energy consumption
  • the FollowME Print facility, which reduces the amount of paper and toner being used
  • recycling facilities in work areas, as well as paper recycling in utility rooms
  • 100 per cent recyclable A4 and A3 paper
  • reviewing leased buildings and cooperating and encouraging building owners to improve energy performance
  • using a smart lighting system that only activates when areas are occupied
  • ensuring that any new leases entered into comply with the Government’s energy policy, and
  • procuring energy efficient equipment and lighting solutions.

The Department uses secure and non-secure videoconferencing facilities to conduct a range of business activities. The use of videoconferencing has reduced the need for local and interstate travel.

The whole-of-government Australian ICT Sustainability Plan is also being implemented, which mandates environmental standards for information and communications technology acquisitions and energy targets. Further information on the ICT Sustainability Plan can be found at <http://www.environment.gov.au/sustainability/government/ictplan/index.html>.

The Department participated in Earth Hour 2011 on Saturday 26 March 2011 by reducing lighting within its buildings to emergency lighting only. This activity continues to raise awareness among staff about ways they can help take action on climate change.

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Confiscating criminal assets

Integrated approach to confiscating criminal assets

The Government’s multi-agency Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce was launched by the Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice in Brisbane in March 2011 and is now working to identify potential asset confiscation matters and strengthen their pursuit.

The Taskforce, which is led by the Australian Federal Police, brings together agencies with roles in the investigation and litigation of proceeds of crime matters, including the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Taxation Office.

It will reduce duplication and allow a confiscation strategy to be developed that will maximise disruption, either by proceeds action, tax remedies, civil debt recovery or recovery through international cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies.

According to Senior Legal Officer Simone Clare, bringing together a variety of different agencies presented a great opportunity to create a more integrated approach to confiscating criminal assets, but also had its own challenges. For example, each agency has its own legislative mandate and powers.

‘And as the project was part of an election commitment, we were also required to work to tight deadlines to have the Taskforce up and operating”, she says. ‘But the Taskforce is a great example of how the expertise of different agencies can be brought together to provide a more integrated and cooperative approach to tackling an issue.’

Simone says that working with the AFP has offered unique insights into how high-level policy can be translated into operational reality. ‘As Criminal Justice Division deals mostly with proceeds of crime policy and reform, it has benefited from working closely with the Australian Federal Police and its operational expertise.’

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