Local government

In the 1990s local government maintained its role as the level of government with most day-to-day responsibility for local decisions on coastal management. The input of Commonwealth assistance was significant in the late 1990s in encouraging local government actions to reduce marine pollution by stormwater and wastewater. The Coast and Clean Seas and Urban Stormwater Initiatives have been important as demonstrations of improved systems for dealing with wastewater and stormwater, including new technology. The spread of adoption of integrated local area planning and Agenda 21 processes is leading to more sustainable outcomes in coastal as well as other areas.

The community

In 1995 the number of community groups in Australia engaging in practical activities to restore and improve coastal environments may well have been under 500. By the year 2000 this number had been increased to close to 1500 as a result of the Coastcare initiative. As a small grants scheme with an annual national budget of under $ 10 million, this has proved extremely cost effective. The changes in coastal communities may be more important than the works: in the knowledge and experience gained and networks established. After all the dune fences have been constructed, the interpretive signs designed and Little Penguins counted, it may well be that the awareness-raising and capacitybuilding effects of this scheme are its long-term benefit. This 'sea change' is altering the way coastal management is conducted in all the states.

Integrated coastal management

The above headings of Commonwealth, state government, local government, and the community illustrate the different roles in Australian coastal management, but it is clear that there is a need for integration between all of these in addition to some key internal integration strategies. Leading experts in the field of coastal management (for example J.R. Clark and B. Cicin-Sain) have in the last decade argued at length that integrated coastal management can give significantly improved outcomes. Comparison of the coastal management arrangements with descriptions of integrated coastal management (ICM) provides a comparison or benchmark in assessing the state of coastal management within the states and the Commonwealth.

According to Kenchington and Crawford (1993) the following are necessary elements of ICM:

• Long-term goal. A dynamic goal or vision of the desired condition of the oceanic or coastal area and the integration of human use and impact for a period significantly longer than conventional economic planning horizons, say 25 or 50 years

• National objectives/local plans. National objectives are broad, commonly agreed aims or common purposes to which policies and management are directed. For regional and local plans, progressively more detailed obj ecti ves consistent with the national objectives are usually required

• Principles for decision-making. Guiding principles for managers or statutory decision makers exercising discretionary powers for planning, granting approvals, or making changes to the purpose or extent of use and access

• Policy agreement across agencies (horizontal integration). A strategy, commitment, and resources for the objectives to be met through detailed day-to-day management, which may involve several agencies and the community

• Authority and accountability. Clear, legally based identification of authority, precedence, and accountability for achievement of the strategy in relation to any other legislation applying to the area in question

• Use of performance indicators. Performance indicators and monitoring to enable objective assessment of the extent to which goals and objectives have been met.

• Commitment to implementation. Above all, political, administrative, and stakeholder will and commitment to implement the strategy.

In addition to the above list, summarised from Kenchington and Crawford (1993), it is relevant to add the following key points for achieving ICM.

• Vertical integration. Some evidence of vertical integration between three spheres of government and the community

• Lead agency. To initiate, maintain focus on coastal issues, undertake some major coastal management responsibilities, take responsibility for publishing performance indicators, and including staff with professional expertise in coastal management.

Each of the above key points has been incorporated into a report card approach for Australia in table 5.2. This table attempts to summarise the current situation in Australia in regard to the above criteria. The lack of national objectives, agreed between the Commonwealth, states and territory, is the most striking feature of the present situation. Coastal management in Australia stands at the end of a decade of increasing activity in response to international and community pressures, in response to rapid resource development and in response to environmental change. There is no reason to suppose that these pressures will decrease in the future; in fact there is every indication that they will increase. The information in table 5.2 is subject to rapid change; it has not been systematically researched, but is correct to the best knowledge of the authors at the time of publication.

Table 5.2 Success in meeting ICM criteria










Long-term goal

National objectives


Policy agreement


Performance indie.


Vertical Integration

Lead agency

* = indications that this is in place

- = indications that this is not in place;

( ) = significant qualifications compared with description above.

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