01 July, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [SOTFY, Training, Water Politics, Coal Seam Gas]


Today is the start of the new financial year (SOTFY). Finance is an artificial impost of our complex society that does not correlate to anything in our natural environment.

However, one should note that it is good time to think about registering for a Research & Development Tax Concession.

It is an ongoing scheme designed to increase the level of R&D being conducted by Australian companies. It is broad-based, not industry specific, and market-driven with the applicant entity deciding upon the scope and timing of the research and development.

The scheme allows companies to claim a tax deduction in their income tax return of up to 125% (and in some cases up to 175%) of eligible expenditure incurred on R&D activities.

Under the R&D tax concession small companies can claim an R&D tax offset (that is, a refundable tax offset) equivalent to the value of certain deductions available under the R&D tax concession instead.

DERM’s Compliance Alert on Training

Recently, Omar Ameer presented at an ASBG workshop on “How to stay out of trouble with your regulator”

Omar noted that DERM develops compliance alerts to highlight commonly occurring areas of non-compliance, and outline the steps that can be taken to improve performance and avoid enforcement action.

The alerts include a description of problems that are regularly encountered, the strategies that can be implemented to address those problems, and case studies that provide practical examples of the consequences of those problems.

An analysis of DERM's litigation activities has highlighted that two common reasons for operators to breach the Environmental Protection Act 1994 – are failure to:

  • adequately train staff
  • develop and implement adequate systems to manage environmental risk.

Compliance Alert 2/2011 provides case studies that illustrate how this failure can result in significant environmental damage, and prompt enforcement action by DERM.

The National Water Resources Framework

The State and Federal Governments have agreed to implement a national compliance and enforcement framework for water resource management to help protect the environment and secure water users entitlements. The Commonwealth will provide over $10 million for this program, and this funding will be used to enhance or develop:

· additional stakeholder and public education tools about compliance

· best practice regulatory tools

· a nationally consistent range of water offences and penalties

· appropriate compliance programs

· risk prioritisation of water resources

· increased levels of monitoring of high risk water resources

· public reporting of compliance statistics.

The framework moves all jurisdictions towards a nationally consistent approach to managing water resource compliance. This national initiative has been tailored to the Queensland context within the State's implementation plan, with the aim to ensure fair and equitable use of water resources in Queensland.

Read more on the Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities website...

This national initiative has been tailored to the Queensland context within the Queensland's Implementation Plan for the National Framework for Compliance and Enforcement Systems for Water Resource Management.

Coal Seam Gas

This week the Society of Sustainability and Environmental Engineering held a panel discussion on Coal Seam Gas (without fear or favour).

The session was held in front of a live audience at Engineering House, filling the Hawken Auditorium to capacity. People who had not registered for the event were turned away at the door.

A Web cast of the event will be available on the Engineers Australia website shortly.

The Water Price Blame Game revisited

SEQ Councils have rejected the QLD State Government's offer to take back their water entities.

The Councils had until midnight last night to decide whether to split from the distributor-retailers (Allconnex, UnityWater and Queensland Urban Utilities) and take back control of water, sewerage and sewage treatment services.

The State Government is currently selling bulk water at a loss - in 2010-11 that loss was nearly half a billion dollars. Ironically the majority of the $7b worth of water assets including the Gold Coast desalination plant, the water grid and the water purification plants are sitting idle because the State Government refuses to allow indirect potable reuse of purified sewage effluent.

It would appear that the SEQ Council’s have decided to keep the current distributor-retailer model. However, the political blame games on water pricing continue unabated.

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