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Great Barrier Reef Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

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2013-2014

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

Great Barrier Reef Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Waters)



 

 

Great Barrier Reef Legislation Amendment Bill 2014

 

Outline

The Great Barrier Reef Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 implements in our national environment laws key recommendations that the World Heritage Committee has made to ensure the Great Barrier Reef does not get added to the “world heritage in danger” list. It also prohibits the approval after 31 December 2013 of any dumping of port dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Part 1 - Preliminary

 

Clause 1

This is a formal provision specifying the short title.

 

Clause 2 - Commencement

This provision sets out that the Act will commence on the day it receives Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 - Schedules

This provision gives effect to the amendments set out in Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 to the Bill.

 

Schedule 1 - Developments impacting the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

Item 1

Section 24CA prohibits development of new ports outside existing port areas along the Great Barrier Reef coastline. It also prohibits development of new ports in a number of designated locations identified by the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO’s reactive monitoring mission, as areas that need to be protected from industrial developments to ensure the integrity of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.  This section implements critical requests from the World Heritage Committee contained in recommendation 5 of its Decision 36 COM 7B.B, made in June 2012, and reflects findings of UNESCO’s reactive monitoring mission’s report.

Section 24CB prohibits development within existing port areas along the Great Barrier Reef coastline, where these developments would individually or cumulatively have an impact on the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef. This implements Recommendation 5 of the World Heritage Committee’s decision of June 2012 (Decision 36 COM 7B.B).

Section 24CC implements a moratorium from 13 February 2014 on approval of all developments impacting the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area until the strategic assessment is completed and has been deemed adequate by the World Heritage Committee. This implements Recommendation 2 of the UNESCO reactive monitoring mission, which the World Heritage Committee has requested the Australian Government address (per WHC Recommendation 4 of Decision 36 COM 7B.B).

Section 24CD prohibits approval of any developments that do not deliver a net benefit for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. This puts in place a methodology for implementing part of the World Heritage Committee’s Recommendation 8 (Decision 36 COM 7B.B), which calls on the Government to ensure that developments affecting the Great Barrier Reef demonstrate an overall net benefit to the protection of the Reef’s Outstanding Universal Value.

 

Item 2

Inserts a definition of Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 .

 

Schedule 2 - Dumping dredged material in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

 

Item 1

Inserts a definition of Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area into the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 .

 

Item 2

Sub-section 10AA (1) establishes that is it an offence to dump dredged material within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, which attracts a maximum penalty of 250 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months or both. 

It is appropriate that strict liability apply to the Great Barrier Reef element of the offence as it may be difficult to prove that a person knew they were in the Great Barrier Reef (or were reckless to that fact) making the offence difficult to prosecute and accordingly undermining the deterrent effect of the provisions. The application of strict liability is also justifiable on the basis that a defendant can reasonably be expected, because of his or her professional involvement in the dredging industry, to know the requirements of the law.

Sub-section 10AA (3) sets out that, subject to item 4, no permit can be given to allow dumping of dredged material within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Sub-section 10AA (4) provides that certain provisions in the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 do not apply to the dumping of dredged material, while sub-section (5) applies other provisions of the Act to dumping of dredged material.

 

Item 3

Sub-section 10CA establishes that is it an offence to load dredged materials, onto a vessel or platform, where the person knows (or is reckless with regard to the fact) that that material is to be dumped within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. This offence attracts a maximum penalty of 250 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months or both. 

Sub-section 10CA (2) sets out that, subject to item 4, no permit can be given to allow the loading of dredged materials that are to be dumped within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Sub-section 10CA (3) provides that certain provisions in the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 do not apply to the dumping of dredged material, while sub-section (4) confirms that other provisions of the Act apply to loading of dredged materials.

 

Item 4

This item applies retrospectively so that no permits or approval could be given for the activities prohibited by this Schedule after 31 December 2013.

 

 

 

 

 



 

Text Box: Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights
 Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011
 
 Great Barrier Reef Legislation Amendment Bill 2014
 This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.
 
 Overview of the Bill
 This Bill amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to implement in our national environment laws key recommendations of the World Heritage Committee has made to ensure the Great Barrier Reef does not get added to the “world heritage in danger” list, and it amends the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 to prohibit dumping of dredge spoil within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
 
 Human rights implications
 This Bill is confined solely to changing how major ports and other industrial developments which would impact the world heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef are regulated under our national environment laws. The Bill does not engage any human rights in a positive or negative manner.
 
 Conclusion 
 The Bill is compliant with the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.
 
 
 Senator Larissa Waters