Extract from: House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage (2000) Coordinating Catchment Management: report of the inquiry into catchment management. AusInfo Bookshop; Canberra. Pages 97-99.
At present there are no national standards for catchment management consistent across all jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction has developed legislation in an ad hoc manner seeking only to address immediate, not future concerns. Often the legislation is narrowly focused and intended to address the concerns of the particular jurisdiction. How land use in one jurisdiction may affect Australians in other jurisdictions has not figured in the development of land use legislation. The Committee believes that the management of catchments should be consistent between jurisdictions.
The best way to achieve this, in the Committees view, is through uniform national principles enacted by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.75 The Committee believes that while the management of catchments should be consistent between jurisdictions, it is also the case that in order to be appropriate for any location, management must take into account the local conditions. The best way to achieve this, in the Committees view, is through uniform national principles enacted by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, that are flexible enough to provide programs adapted to local conditions. Such an approach would minimise one of the major failings of the present arrangements: the lack of consistent coverage and co-ordinated responses to environmental problems owing the fact that:
National principles would enable, for the first time, a comprehensive audit and evaluation of catchment management programs to occur, and modifications to be devised and implemented.
Moreover, the environmental problems facing the nation are so great and pressing that action should be taken sooner rather than later. It is important, therefore, to develop a timetable for the formulation of the principles and their implementation.
The Committee also concludes that the principles should be set and included in the national catchment legislation already envisaged.
The Committee recommends that, in consultation with stakeholders, national catchment management principles be developed and enacted in comprehensive, national catchment management legislation. The Committee further recommends that:
The Committee does not wish to specify in detail what these principles should contain. However, the evidence gathered in the course of this inquiry indicate that the following types of principles should be considered:
These are only draft principles. The aim of the Committee is to place them in the public area for discussion and to promote debate. (December 2000).