Page 2902 - Week 09 - Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Along with enforceable undertakings, a civil penalty scheme was proposed in early discussions to be included in this bill to expand the regulatory tools available to the EPA in administering and enforcing the legislation. Whilst a civil penalty scheme is an additional monetary penalty mechanism, the option for criminal prosecution remains unchanged. Issues of uncertainty in how such a scheme would operate in the current ACT administrative and judicial framework were raised during consultation with relevant agencies.

The Human Rights Unit in the Justice and Community Safety Directorate recommended further analysis of the potential operation of the scheme and its application to the ACT environment be undertaken. The government has therefore concluded that the civil penalty scheme should not be included in the bill at this time. Subject to the outcome of further analysis, the scheme may be introduced as a separate legislative proposal in the future.

The amendments to this act will enhance enforcement capabilities, provide response options that are proportionate to the environmental damage and ensure that the law remains responsive to the changing needs of the ACT community.

This is an important bill for the territory and our community. The changes that the bill will bring about will streamline regulatory processes, ensuring the integrity and operation of the act whilst encouraging improvements and better environmental practices.

The amendments will enhance the enforcement options available to the EPA as the regulatory body administering the act by providing response mechanisms that are proportionate. The bill will allow for a proactive approach in protecting the environment through updates to the definition of environmental harm and robust regulation of specific activities that have a risk of causing environmental harm. These will further strengthen the legislative environmental safeguards.

The bill will also simplify and modernise the act by enhancing and streamlining administrative processes. The bill will bring the ACT’s environment protection law in line with other Australian jurisdictions. The bill will deliver improved outcomes for the community, businesses, the government and, most importantly, the environment. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Ms Lawder) adjourned to the next sitting.

Nature Conservation Bill 2014

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (10.47): I move:

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