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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 20

Mr LAUNDY (ReidAssistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science) (13:15): I am here today representing the Minister for the Environment and Energy in summing up this bill, the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Amendment Bill 2016. I would like to thank all the members for the contributions that they have made on this bill.

The amendment bill introduces a modest set of administrative reforms that will deliver more effective and efficient regulation of hazardous waste movements while ensuring that Australia's high standards of human and environmental protection continue to be met. The amendment and levy bills also introduce cost recovery measures that allow the government to recover its costs of administering the system and the permitting scheme under the hazardous waste act.

The permit scheme implements Australia's international obligations under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal—quite a mouthful! The scheme regulates exports, imports and transits of hazardous waste out of, into and through Australia to ensure the waste is dealt with appropriately. Controlling hazardous waste movements through the permit scheme is vital to protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of exposure to these hazardous materials and waste.

The efficiency reforms introduced by the amendment bill focus on removing duplicative and unnecessary permit processes, thereby reducing delays and cost to business and government. The reforms have been designed to streamline the hazardous waste act while maintaining the high standard of human and environmental protection that the act provides.

The cost recovery reforms—which the member for Hughes referred to—introduced by the amendment and levy bills aim to ensure the full recovery of the cost of administering the hazardous waste act permitting scheme. Currently the government only recovers approximately 30 per cent of these costs. The cost recovery amendments will allow permit application fees to be raised and indexed annually to cover the direct costs of processing permit applications. The amendments will also impose a levy on all permit applications, which will also be indexed annually, and this will cover the indirect costs of administering the permitting scheme.

The cost recovery reforms will ensure that those who require the government's permitting services, because they move hazardous waste, are the ones who pay for the permitting scheme's administration, rather than the Australian community, which up until now have been left with 70 per cent of the bill. The reforms may also help discourage the generation of hazardous waste and encourage the establishment of domestic facilities to deal with this waste.

In closing: together, the amendment and levy bills introduce efficiency and cost recovery reforms that represent an important step in the modernisation of the hazardous waste act and its permitting scheme. With these reforms, Australia will be able to comply more easily with its international obligations to ensure the sound management of hazardous waste. Industry will be relieved of unnecessary regulatory burden and delays and will retain certainty about its responsibilities and liabilities under the permitting scheme. Most importantly, the government will continue to fulfil its duty to protect people and the environment from hazardous waste.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.