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Validity of time extension.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Minister for the Environment and Water Resources

T166/07 30 August 2007


The Premier of Tasmania's claims about the validity of my extension of time for the making of a decision on the pulp mill are legally wrong and without substantive merit.

The decision to extend the time period was validly made when I specified the period of extension in writing.

Section. 130 (1A) of the EPBC Act relevantly states: "The Minister must make the decision within the relevant period....or such longer period as the Minister specifies in writing." Accordingly the extension is effective from the moment I signed the instrument in writing.

The obligations to notify the proponent (Gunns) and publish notice of the extension on the Internet and in the Gazette are to be undertaken after the decision is taken.

No time period is stated during which notification and publication should occur in either the Act or the Regulations and the normal practice is that such publication occurs as soon as is reasonably practicable following the making of the decision. In the case of publication in the Gazette this is normally done in the next edition of the Gazette which is published once a week.

While some provisions of the Act state that a decision is made by notice in the Gazette, this is not the case here. Publication does not effect the decision - it is a subsequent obligation.

The objection raised by the Tasmanian Premier is not only wrong as a matter of law, it has no substantive merit.

The fact of the extension was well known to the proponent (Gunns) and the general public shortly after it was made on 29 August.

The fact that a decision could not be taken by 29 August was obvious as soon as I announced, on 19 August, that I would open up a further round of public consultation (to conclude on 31 August) and seek the advice of the Chief Scientist.

Media Contact: Brad Burke 02 6277 7640 or 0400 337 252