State of Environment Report Needs $1.5m for Government to Fulfil Legal Obligations: Lawyers
Today the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) and the Australia Institute Tasmania have written to Tasmanian Treasurer Michael Ferguson requesting the release of at least $1.5 million to enable the Government to fulfil its legal obligation to produce a State of the Environment Report in the 2023-24 Tasmanian Budget.
The last SoE Report was released in 2009, despite laws requiring Reports to be produced every 5 years. In October 2022, the Planning Minister directed the Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC) to produce the next SoE Report by 30 June 2024. Insufficient funding has been given as the reason why there has been no report since 2009.
The Australia Institute Tasmania and EDO confirmed through a 2022 Right To Information (RTI) action that, since at least 2016, the Tasmanian Government has been aware that there has not been sufficient funding allocated to produce SOE Reports.
- The Australia Institute Tasmania and EDO are calling on the Tasmanian Government to adequately resource the production of the next State of the Environment Report in the upcoming state budget.
- The Tasmanian Government has failed to adequately resource this function since at least 2016.
- 2022 RTI documents revealed the reason the TPC could not produce a SOE Report since 2009 is because of insufficient funding.
- In 2019 the Department of Justice estimated the cost of producing the SoE Report would equate to $1.25 million.
- This estimate may now be conservative because:
- Environmental monitoring and assessment techniques have evolved substantially since 2009, so the TPC will be required to implement a new methodology.
- Inflation and collating and analysing 15 years’ worth of data, rather than 5, will add to the cost.
- Having a compressed time frame of 12 months instead of 5 years is also likely to add to costs.
“The Australia Institute Tasmania and Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) are seeking appropriate allocation of resources in the upcoming 2023-24 state budget for the production of the State of the Environment Report,” said Eloise Carr, Director the Australia Institute Tasmania.
“We understand the TPC has been given $500,000 to date to resource four staff and cover an audit of the report. This amount is clearly inadequate. We estimate that at least triple that amount will be necessary if the Report is to be delivered by 30 June 2024 and to an adequate standard. Ongoing funding to prepare future reports will also be required.
“In 2009, the TPC spent the equivalent of $1.3 million (in today’s money) to produce the State of the Environment Report. This estimate is likely to be conservative. Environmental monitoring and assessment techniques have evolved substantially since 2009, so the TPC will be required to implement a new methodology. Inflation and collating and analysing 15 years’ worth of data, rather than 5, will only add to the cost, as will the compressed time frame.
“Tasmania urgently needs a State of the Environment Report because we haven’t had one since 2009.
“State of the Environment Reports are vital to understanding the health of Tasmania’s environment, trends and changes and whether we are achieving what we want for our environment. They are also important because they make recommendations for actions to address areas of concern.”
Tanya Martin Office Manager
Jake Wishart Senior Media Adviser