EPA reforms news update: Environment Protection Act 2017 passed by Parliament
The Environment Protection Act 2017 has been passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent on 24 October 2017.
This is the first of two phases of legislative reform to overhaul the 47-year-old Environment Protection Act 1970 and replace it with modernised and fit-for-purpose legislation. The reforms in this first Act modernise the Environment Protection Authority's corporate governance and strengthen its status as a science-based regulator to ensure it is ready for the rest of the major transformation it will undergo. The second Bill (which will complete the reform of the Environment Protection Act 1970) is scheduled to be introduced to Parliament in 2018. Coupled with increased funding from the 2017-18 budget, these changes will build a stronger, modern and better resourced Environment Protection Authority for the future.
The Environment Protection Act 2017 is available online here.
Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment
The Andrews Labor Government has committed $4.8 million to deliver a pilot program of Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE). This fifteen-month pilot, commencing in September 2017, will employ ten OPLEs located in councils to respond to localised waste and pollution issues. The outcomes of this program will inform a potential future statewide rollout of an OPLE network.
For more detail on the program including where OPLEs will be located, visit engage.vic.gov.au/reform-epa.
Government Response to the Independent Inquiry
On 17 January the Andrews Labor Government released its response to the Independent Inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). View the response here:
Andrews Labor Government Response to the Independent Inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority (PDF, 611.4 KB)
Andrews Labor Government Response to the Independent Inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority (Accessible) (DOCX, 778.6 KB)
The government response commits to a once-in-a-generation transformation of the EPA to equip it for the future. A modernised environment protection framework with increased resourcing will ensure that the EPA can continue to protect the health of Victorians, our environment and our world-recognised liveability as Victoria's population continues to grow.
The government response supports in full 40 of the 48 recommendations, with seven supported in principle, and one supported in part.
Legislative changes to modernise EPA's governance and overhaul the Environment Protection Act 1970 will be introduced in 2017 and 2018. These will strengthen the EPA's independence and scientific expertise, and deliver certainty, and consistent and efficient regulation for industry. In particular, there will be a landmark shift of approach to preventing harm to the health of Victorians and our environment.
The government has committed $45.5 million in 2016-17 and 2017-18 to kick-start a five year reform program that will provide Victorians with a bigger, better equipped, and more effective EPA to address Victoria's environment protection challenges now and into the future. This includes:
- $4.8 million to expand the environmental public health capability in the EPA to better identify, manage and communicate environmental health risks in Victoria
- $6.5 million to better hold polluters to account
- $4.8 million to pilot a program of local government environment protection officers to respond more effectively to local issues affecting liveability and amenity
- $2.1 million to appoint a Chief Environmental Scientist and boost EPA's intelligence-gathering on new and emerging risks
- $3.3 million for improved digital information management to support better regulation
- $1.5 million to strengthen EPA's strategic role in land use planning.
To keep engaged with Victoria's environment protection reform, visit Engage Victoria
An interim advisory board has been appointed to support the EPA through this significant reform process and provide strategic advice to support its leadership. This will be led by current EPA Chairman, Cheryl Batagol, with interim board members: Dr John Stocker, Professor Rebekah Brown, Ross Pilling, Monique Conheady, Debra Russell, Robert Hogarth and Professor Arie Frieberg.
The Independent Inquiry into the EPA was conducted over 10 months by a Ministerial Advisory Committee and the final report was publicly released on 16 May 2016. The inquiry was the first comprehensive review of the EPA since it commenced operations in 1971. You can find out more about the inquiry, and view the final report