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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 3842..


Select Committee on Workers' Compensation System

Report;

and

(2) (a) prior to any publication of Committee reports on the Internet the Clerk establish procedures to provide for the integrity of committee reports in electronic publication; and

(b) the reports of the standing and select committees of the Fourth Assembly be published on the Assembly's website.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2001

Debate resumed from 28 June 2001, on motion by Mr Smyth:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS TUCKER (8.29): This bill contains a range of amendments to the Environment Protection Act that have arisen from a recent government review of the act. Most of the changes are relatively minor, but they have prompted the Greens to do their own review of the act and to revisit some of the issues that were debated when the Environment Protection Act was first passed in 1997. Our conclusion is that many more improvements could be made to the act than the government has proposed. We also disagree with some of the specific amendments that the government has proposed.

One symbolic change the government has made is to change the name Environment Management Authority to Environment Protection Authority. The Greens always thought that Environment Protection Authority was the best title and argued this when the legislation was first debated here. It is good to see that the government has come round to our point of view on that.

Of course, there is still the issue that the authority is really just one person, unlike EPAs in the other states. We believe that the authority should be an independent statutory organisation, not just one person in Environment ACT.

Another good change is the removal of the word "territory" from the objects of the act so that the objective is now to protect the whole environment, not just the environment in the territory. The environment knows no state borders. It is good to acknowledge this in the act.

The bill also reduces public notification requirements for environmental authorisations. I can understand the minister's concern about having to notify things that may not be of much public interest. I agree that there could be a net benefit in reducing the notification for decisions made by the authority at the end of the process, but this is quite a different issue to public notification of applications and public comment at the start of the process, before the authority makes its decision. In fact, I believe that there are a number of inconsistencies and inadequacies in other public consultation processes in the act which need addressing. I will talk about those more when we get to the detail stage of the bill.


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