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Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Public Health and Safety) Bill 2010

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2008-2009-2010

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Public Health and Safety) Bill 2010

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of

Luke Hartsuyker, Member for Cowper)



Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Public Health and Safety) Bill 2010

 

OUTLINE

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBCA) 1999 to:

-        Introduce public health and safety as one of the matters which the Minister must take into account when deciding whether or not to approve an action under the Act ;

-        Give the issue of public health and safety prominence among matters which must be taken into account;

-        Provide the Minister with an opportunity to expedite decisions when there is a serious threat to public health and safety.

 

The Bill is being introduced following the growing encroachment of colonies of grey-headed flying foxes, a protected species under the Act,  into populated areas, both in regional Australia and in larger urban areas, such as Sydney.

 

Conflicts are arising between the health and quality of life of residents and the desire to protect the species under the terms of the Act.  As it stands, the Act does not satisfactorily address this issue.

 

For example, in the town of Maclean, NSW, a large colony has established itself adjacent to the local school and residential development.  Despite the serious effect on the local community, the Act has offered no remedy to the deteriorating situation.   

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

The Bill will have no financial impact.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Item 1 - this seeks to replace the words “properly assessed” in paragraph 3(2)(d) with “assessed in a period that permits adequate scientific inquiry and balances the needs of the community”,  thus establishing public health and safety  as a criteria in the assessment alongside the needs of the relevant species.

Item 2 - Subsection 3A(a) of the Act states “ decision-making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equitable considerations.”  Item 2 would insert “public health and safety”, better refining the human effects that the Minister must consider.

Item 3 - Subsection 87(3) sets out the matters the Minister must consider in making a decision. Item 3 establishes the need for a timely decision when public health and safety is at risk.

Item 4 - Section 132 of the Act deals with the additional information the Minister may seek before coming to a decision.  To expedite matters in cases where public health and safety are at risk, item 4 would add a requirement to balance public health and safety needs against the requirements for scientific inquiry.

Item 5 - Section 133 of the Act deals with the granting of approval.  Item 5 would provide the Minister with an opportunity to approve the action immediately where there is a “serious threat to public health and safety.”