Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, 2010
Operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (continued)
EPBC Act review
On 31 October 2008 the minister commissioned an independent review of the operation of the EPBC Act, the first since the Act commenced on 16 July 2000. Under section 522A of the EPBC Act, a review is required every 10 years from the Act's commencement.
The review was undertaken by Dr Allan Hawke AC with support from a panel of experts comprising the Hon. Paul Stein AM (former judicial officer in various New South Wales courts including the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales), Professor Mark Burgman (Director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Risk Analysis at the University of Melbourne), Professor Tim Bonyhady (Director of the Australian Centre for Environmental Law and the Centre of Climate Law and Policy at the Australian National University) and Ms Rosemary Warnock (former CEO of BP (Castrol) Asia Pacific).
In particular the review examined the:
- operation of the EPBC Act generally
- extent to which the objectives of the EPBC Act have been achieved
- appropriateness of current matters of national environmental significance
- effectiveness of the biodiversity and wildlife conservation arrangements.
The review had regard to key Australian Government policy objectives, including to:
- promote the sustainability of Australia's economic development to enhance individual and community well-being, while protecting biological diversity and maintaining essential ecological processes and systems
- work in partnership with the states and territories within an effective federal arrangement
- facilitate delivery of Australia's international obligations
- progress the Australian Government's deregulation agenda to reduce and simplify the regulatory burden on people, businesses and organisations while maintaining appropriate and efficient environmental standards, and
- ensure that activities under the Act represent the most appropriate, efficient and effective ways of achieving the government's outcomes and objectives in accordance with the Expenditure Review Principles.
During 2008 the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts also undertook its own inquiry into the operation of the EPBC Act. The committee delivered its findings and recommendations in two reports, published on 18 March 2009 and 30 April 2009. Dr Hawke considered the committee's reports as part of his review.
Dr Hawke's review included an extensive consultation process. Significant input from all levels of government and industry groups, environmental groups, businesses, academics and members of the general public was received during the review. Comments were invited on a public discussion paper released on 31 October 2008 and 220 submissions were received. A summary of the public submissions was published on 29 June 2009. An interim report was also released on 29 June 2009 and 119 further submissions were received.
All submissions are publicly available on the EPBC Act review website at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/review/submissions/
In accordance with the terms of reference, the final report of the EPBC Act review was provided to the minister on 30 October 2009.
The key findings of Dr Hawke's review recognise that the Act has many positive features that should be retained. The report also indicates areas for improvement, making 71 primary recommendations as well as numerous conclusions and findings of an advisory nature. The report recommends reforms that:
- promote the sustainability of Australia's economic development
- reduce and simplify the regulatory burden
- ensure activities under the Act represent the most efficient and effective ways of achieving desired environmental outcomes
- are based on an effective federal arrangement.
The Australian Government is carefully considering the report and will respond during 2010-11. The report is publicly available at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/review
The Australian Government introduced the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Recreational Fishing for Mako and Porbeagle Sharks) Bill 2010 (the amendment). The amendment provides an exception to the offence provisions in Part 13, Division 2 of the EPBC Act, for recreational fishing of shortfin and longfin mako sharks and porbeagle sharks. The offence provisions came into force following the listing of these species on Appendix II of the Convention Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention). Under the EPBC Act Appendix II, species listed under the Bonn Convention are automatically protected under the EPBC Act. The amendment is to ensure that international changes to the status of mako and porbeagle sharks will not unfairly impact on recreational fishing activities in Australia, while ensuring that Australia complies with international obligations for the conservation of migratory species.
The amendment was introduced on 25 February 2010, passed the House of Representatives on 15 March 2010, and the Senate on 21 June 2010. The legislation commenced on 15 July 2010.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 (EPBC Regulations) were amended in May 2010. The amendments improve the operation of a wide range of regulatory provisions and support some of the provisions that were inserted into the Act by the Environment and Heritage Legislation Amendment Act 2006.
The regulation amendments were made to facilitate compliance and enforcement, improve consistency, remove obsolete provisions, and correct referencing and typographical errors. The bulk of the amendments relate to the regulatory arrangements that apply to actions within Commonwealth reserves. Additional strict liability offences were created for a range of offences in Commonwealth reserves.
A significant number of the amendments relate to the publication requirements placed on the department. The amendments also clarify or amend the information requirements for referrals, permit applications, notices, requests and public comments.
New provisions were created that establish the processes to be used for: acknowledging additional heritage values of listed Heritage places; providing for accreditation of management arrangements relating to fisheries; and ensuring that the most up-to-date requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) are implemented.
Other minor amendments were made to the EPBC Regulations in November 2009 and December 2009. The November amendments prescribe the Australian Rail Track Corporation Limited, with the effect of excluding the corporation from the definition of a Commonwealth agency under the EPBC Act. The December 2009 amendments changed the shipment fee for multiple-use export permits for regulated native specimens, to align the fees applicable for kangaroo and wallaby species with the fees for other regulated native specimens.
In this section
- Letter of transmittal
- Executive summary
- Outcome 1 - Conserving our natural assets
- Outcome 2 - Living and working sustainably
- Operation of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989
- Operation of the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989
- Operation of the product stewardship arrangements for oil including the Product Stewardship (Oil) Act 2000
- Operation of the Fuel Quality Standards Act 2000
- Outcome 3 - Protecting Antarctica
- Outcome 4 - Adapting to a future with less water
- Outcome 5 - Protecting and enhancing Australia's culture and heritage
- Corporate Outcome - Improving organisational effectiveness
- Financial statements
- List of requirements