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Ecologically Sustainable Development and Environmental Performance

Administration of Commonwealth Policy on the Management of Land Affected by Unexploded Ordnance

There are over 1,100 sites on the Defence register that are potentially affected by unexploded ordnance, more than 300 of which pose significant hazard levels. During the year the number of potentially affected sites known to Defence increased marginally, as unexploded ordnance was found at previously unknown sites. Of the total number of sites on the Defence register, the Commonwealth occupies or controls only approximately 10 per cent, with the balance controlled by states, territories, local authorities or private land holders.

The focus of Defence's activities is to gather and disseminate information that will assist in the safe management of land that may be affected by unexploded ordnance. Defence applies the risk assessment model to enable it, in consultation with state and territory governments, to prioritise a program for the investigation of sites potentially affected by unexploded ordnance.

The development of a Defence Instruction on the Management of Land Affected by Unexploded Ordnance was completed in 2004. The revised instruction reflects changes in functional responsibilities and improved management and advice measures.

In accordance with the responsibility of Defence to provide information and advice to the public, revision and re-design of the Defence unexploded ordnance website was commenced during the year. The revision will see the staged introduction of web-based mapping of ordnance-affected sites and areas.

A review of a memorandum of understanding between the Department of Defence and the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency was completed. The memorandum details respective Commonwealth and State responsibilities for unexploded ordnance management. Public information campaigns warning about the dangers of unexploded ordnance continue, particularly in North Queensland. Local newspaper, radio and television carried items and warnings on unexploded ordnance during the year. The Queensland unexploded ordnance site assessment project extended into 2004, with final reports on local government areas continuing to be prepared for the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency. Some 40 local government area-based assessment reports have been prepared and will be issued in conjunction with advertising campaigns agreed between the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency and Defence.

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In New South Wales, Defence and the Land and Property Information Office of the Department of Lands continue to develop a new unexploded ordnance advice mechanism. Using this facility, with information provided by Defence, the New South Wales Government is now able to make available to the public, particularly those involved in conveyancing, information as to whether a property is potentially affected by unexploded ordnance and recommend measures to minimise potential hazards. The mechanism enables appropriate advice on unexploded ordnance risk to be attached to individual land titles.

In Western Australia, Defence officers met with senior staff of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority. The meeting resolved that the extant information-sharing agreement between Defence and the Fire and Emergency Services Authority Unexploded Ordnance Service would continue.

In Tasmania, Defence officers performed a preliminary assessment and provided advice to a private landowner of an ordnance-affected site that was previously unknown to the department.

Defence officers and representatives of the Northern Territory Government have reached a general agreement on Commonwealth/Territory unexploded ordnance management arrangements. A periodic review of records of unexploded ordnance recoveries saw the registration of two additional ordnance-affected Northern Territory sites.

In respect to Defence property, the initiative to progressively remediate ranges and training areas of unexploded ordnance and explosive ordnance waste continues to develop. In 2003-04, contracts were let at Singleton in New South Wales, Port Wakefield in South Australia, and Puckapunyal in Victoria.

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