In June 1990 the Commonwealth Government released
a discussion paper on ecologically sustainable development (ESD).
Shortly afterwards it set up working groups to study how sustainable
development would be applied to nine different industry sectors
that were thought to use or have a significant impact on natural
The establishment of the working groups was seen
by some as an important attempt to break through the entrenched
hostility and mistrust that has marked the environmental debate
in Australia for several years. This standoff was seen by senior
ministers as a serious barrier to both economic progress and environmental
The sectors which the working groups were based
- energy use
- energy production
- forest use
The breakdown of sustainable development into industry
sectors was widely criticised. Environmentalists and outside commentators
felt that intersectoral issues; those that overlapped various
industry sectors; were not properly dealt with because of the
way the groups were divided up.
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