Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (4 March) . . Page.. 425 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
review of the legislation enacted in Commonwealth, state and territory jurisdictions. We strongly support effective national environment protection. We also support cooperation among the Commonwealth, states and territories to achieve it.
The first two amendments implement the recommendations of the review. The first streamlines the council's processes for making minor variations to a national environmental measure, while the second provides for five-yearly reviews of the act. The third amendment flows from the review of ministerial councils by the Council of Australian Governments.
This review resulted in joint meetings of the National Environment Protection Council and the new Environment Protection and Heritage Council. The amendment allows the National Environment Protection Council Service Corporation, which provides the council with secretariat services, to also support the Environment Protection and Heritage Council. We see these measures as sensible enhancements of the national environment protection arrangements and support the government in implementing them.
MR STANHOPE: (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (11.11): I thank members for their support of this piece of legislation. The National Environment Protection Council Act 1994 is part of a national scheme that establishes the National Environment Protection Council.
The Commonwealth and each state and territory have an act of the same name which brings the scheme into effect. The Commonwealth parliament passed amendments to the Commonwealth act in December 2002. Royal assent was received on 19 December. Those amendments reflected national agreement on a number of issues.
The act provides for one review after five years. It has been decided that it would be worthwhile to have a review every five years, rather than leaving it at just one. There is an amendment to the NEPC Service Corporation that ensures that the NEPC Service Corporation can service other ministerial councils-particularly the Environment Protection and Heritage Council-which is necessary in the wake of the rationalisation of ministerial councils last year.
The legislation also provides for a simplified procedure for minor variations. The procedure for varying a national environment protection measure is set out in sections 19 to 21. New simplified and sequential procedures set out in division 320 will apply to a minor variation.
Section 21A sets out the conditions under which the council can determine whether a variation to a national environment protection measure is minor. This subsection requires the variation to be supported by a unanimous resolution of the council. It must state that the variation will not significantly change the measure.
Subsection 21A(2) then requires the council to prepare a draft of the proposed variation, and a statement which explains the reasons for the proposed variation, the nature and effect of the proposed variation, and the reasons why the council is satisfied it is minor.
Section 21B provides for public consultation before a minor variation is made, so that the public is aware that the council is intending to vary a measure and have the opportunity