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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 12 Hansard (30 October) . .

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right place for them, we will be monitoring quite carefully how the government intends to make a facility with a mixed corrections and health clients focus safe for all, and a healthy workplace for staff. We look forward to the further bill and we will support the amendments.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2014

Debate resumed from 18 September 2014, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (11.55): I am pleased to be able to speak on the Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2014 today. Firstly, I indicate that we will support this bill today. Back in April I spoke in this place and I was critical over the situation that occurred at the Koppers Wood Products timber treatment plant in Hume. At that time I raised concerns about a perceived if not real lack of detail, lack of reporting or lack of action on the part of both the company and the EPA when it came to the management of this situation.

At that time I brought forward a motion to have the Koppers site and the pollutants reviewed externally and independently. More recently I was pleased to hear that no environmental damage had occurred as a result of the situation. While it was disappointing that it took a public situation, including coverage in the media on the Koppers site, to bring or galvanise these amendments today, having said that, we are very pleased some good changes are occurring to this piece of legislation. Perhaps they are overdue, but they are positive nonetheless, and I will comment briefly on a couple of them.

Removing government immunity in this amendment bill is good for business, the environment and the residents of Canberra. I think it is the public interest test—that is, government departments should be held to the same if not higher standards than business or individuals, and we are pleased this change is being made.

An addition to the legislation to ensure that out-of-territory polluters who pollute water or land in the ACT can be prosecuted is also a good thing for the ACT environment, and the inclusion of enforceable undertakings in this bill is positive. The enforceable undertaking allowing the offender the ability to rectify their damages rather than being prosecuted in court is a good option for any offender who accidently causes environmental harm. We were concerned about the strict liability offence that had been introduced into this section if an enforceable undertaking was broken. However, I understand there may be government amendments on this, which we would support. Should an offender breach an enforceable undertaking, the EPA can simply go back to the drawing board and proceed with fines or prosecution, and this appears to be a fair process.


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