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Only one recommendation in the report is not endorsed by the Government. Recommendation 50, which seeks to include a section on the impact of environmental factors on health in the report of ACT health goals and targets, is not supported. That document is restricted to the most important factors that affect morbidity and, as such, the inclusion of environmental factors was not seen as appropriate for either the ACT or national reports. Members will note that a number of recommendations were agreed to in principle or in part.

The qualifications to these recommendations are detailed in the Government response. Some qualifications refer to more appropriate means to address a particular issue. One example relates to improving the capacity to assess and respond to the introduction of pest species into ACT waterways, which is covered by recommendation 18. While this was supported by the Government, it will need to be addressed within relevant national forums such as the Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council. Another example relates to recommendation 17, which refers to the application in the ACT of the draft national guidelines for groundwater protection. The intent of this recommendation will be achieved through the adoption of ACT groundwater guidelines, which are currently being developed. The draft national guidelines have been produced to provide a framework to enable States and Territories to develop strategies appropriate to each jurisdiction, rather than to prescribe specific requirements.

Other qualifications are provided to recommendations in order to take account of broader policy considerations. An example of this relates to recommendation 37, which advocates securing areas of conservation concern into the reserve system. While this is one means of protecting specific areas and is used where appropriate, there are other sometimes more appropriate management arrangements. These might involve cooperative management agreements, including leases and licences that provide for off-reserve conservation. Similarly, the maintenance of reserve areas as undisturbed as possible, as suggested in recommendation 38, must be balanced against the need to take into account uses such as recreation, education and research, in addition to conservation values. However, regardless of the designated use of reserve areas, the Government is committed to ensuring their preservation.

In some cases, recommendations are agreed to in principle pending further information. For example, recommendations 16 and 17 recommend improving the means of monitoring groundwater in the ACT and addressing possible contamination. Requirements for monitoring and for programs to address possible contamination will be established with further analysis of existing data. Likewise, the development of ACT indoor air standards, as supported by recommendation 48, is awaiting the endorsement of national indoor air quality standards by the National Health and Medical Research Council. Finally, I should draw attention to the fact that responses to recommendations 43 and 45 are not addressed by the Government response as these are matters for the Commissioner for the Environment to determine in developing his next report.

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