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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (22 June) . . Page.. 2312..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Act has been operating well and the authority has successfully implemented the aims of the act. Broadly, those aims were to:

establish a general environmental duty;

provide a certain, transparent decision-making process for regulating polluting activities;

integrate environment protection issues into the planning process.

There are high levels of compliance with the act in the territory.

However, this success does not mean that we can rest on our laurels. A detailed consideration of the operations of the authority and the mechanics of the act have shown that improvements can be made.

In general terms, the proposal in the report concern the following matters:

the need for greater effort to be put into education to raise awareness of environmental issues, the act and the role of the authority;

adjustments to the compliance and enforcement mechanisms in the act to reflect a more coherent and comprehensive strategy for protecting the environment from pollution; and

adjustments in the ways a wide range of matters are regulated by the act, including noise and hazardous waste.

The government has given a commitment to consider options for the independence of the Environment Protection Authority. This report shows that we have considered that issue and have come to the conclusion that there is no need to change the current arrangements.

The report also meets the requirement in the act to conduct a review of its operation at the end of five years of operation. The proposals in this report represent a significant set of steps to clarify the focus of the act and improve both administration and environmental outcomes. My government recognises that the people of Canberra have more to contribute to resolving many of the important issues raised, and so will be consulting further to achieve the best possible outcomes from this review.

The review has provided an opportunity for the people of the ACT to have a say about how the act is working and how things can be improved. It was gratifying to see the extent of community interest in the review, as shown by the number of people who attended public workshops and provided written submissions.

The people of the territory have always taken a great deal of interest in our environment and are justifiably proud of it. It is therefore not surprising to see a strong level of interest in ensuring its protection.


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