The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
Ozone review to address environment and safety concerns
23 May 2014
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The Government is undertaking a comprehensive review of Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas legislation to ensure continued protection of the environment, while reducing the complexity for businesses and individuals who operate under the legislation.
The ozone legislation has not been comprehensively reviewed since 2001. This review will:
- explore opportunities to reduce compliance costs for more than 80,000 businesses and individuals covered by the legislation
- identify options to reduce emissions of synthetic greenhouse gases
- work co-operatively with business and state and territory governments to address the impacts and impediments to adopting new low emission technologies
- consider the way in which the legislation interacts with workplace health and safety issues
Protecting the ozone layer is one of the world's great environmental success stories. The ozone layer is expected to recover by the middle of this century as a result of global action taken through the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Alternatives gases such as hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and ammonia when used safely play an important role in reducing the impact of refrigerants on ozone depletion and climate change. However, many alternatives are highly flammable and toxic.
This review will examine how to address potential risks which are being increasingly reported due to the impact of Labor's carbon tax on Australia's refrigeration and air-conditioning industry from the sudden jump in costs for synthetic greenhouse gases.
The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Airconditioning and Heating has raised safety concerns that the carbon tax has led to the unsafe handling and use of alternate gases in systems that were not designed for their use.
We all saw what happened with Labor's pink batts fiasco. An ill-designed and poorly implemented scheme resulted in tragic consequences.
As a consequence the Government has raised industry's concerns with the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities who represent all jurisdictions on these matters.
The Department of the Environment will continue to work closely with industry and state and territory work health and safety regulators to improve awareness of the safety risks.
All members of the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry are urged to contact the relevant workplace health and safety organisation in their jurisdiction with any safety concerns. Contacts are available on the SafeWork Australia website at: www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au
Businesses and the community will be consulted throughout the Ozone review. Submissions on the Terms of Reference are invited by 18 July 2014. An interim report is expected to be available for comment by the end of 2014. A final report will be delivered to the Government in mid-2015.
Further information including Terms of Reference for the review can be accessed on the Department of the Environment's website at: www.environment.gov.au/topics/environment-protection/ozone/legislation