January 18, 2017

A stronger EPA for a healthier Victoria

EPA local officers2_cut

Kororoit’s liveability will be protected now and into the future with the Andrews Labor Government’s announcement it will boost the powers of the state’s environmental watchdog with an immediate injection of $45.5 million over the next two years.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio today outlined a comprehensive five-year reform program to implement the recommendations of the Independent Inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and modernise Victoria’s environment protection framework.

The EPA review fulfils a commitment made to the Kororoit community and all Victorians at the last election. The EPA has been a world leader in protecting liveability since it was established in 1971. Implementing these recommendations will ensure the EPA continues to protect Victoria’s liveability as we continue to grow as a state.

The program of reform and investment provide for a stronger EPA to meet contemporary environmental challenges and protect Victorians, our environment and liveability as well as future economic prosperity. This represents the first major overhaul of the legislation since the EPA was formed in 1971

The Andrews Labor Government is investing $45.5 million across 2016-17 and 2017-18 to kick start key reforms, including:

  • Responsiveness to local concerns about local pollution and amenity impacts including $4.8 million to pilot in 2017-18 a new network of local government environment protection officers to address local noise, odour and dust issues that impact liveability.
  • Increased protection for communities including Kororoit provided by an expanded, specialist environmental public health team in EPA, with $4.8 million to build this team over 2017 and 2018. Government has taken swift action and transferred the Department of Health and Human Services environmental health capability relating to pollution and waste to the EPA as a first step to consolidating and building this capability in the EPA.
  • Strengthened prosecution strategy to hold polluters to account, including for illegal dumping of waste, with $6.5 million to fund more investigators, environmental protection officers and legal staff.
  • A major overhaul of Victoria’s 46-year old legislative framework for environment protection, strengthening the independence of the environmental regulator, introducing a new risk-based preventative model and streamlining the environment protection system to make it easier for both community and industry to navigate and understand their obligations.
  • Better access to essential information and data for Victorian businesses and communities, and more online support services, with $3.3 million invested in development of a digital strategy and $2.4 million to develop a database of legacy contamination risks.

A new interim advisory board has been appointed to support the EPA through this significant reform process, with Cheryl Batagol continuing to chair the EPA, membership of this advisory board includes Dr John Stocker, Professor Rebekah Brown, Ross Pilling, Monique Conheady, Debra Russell, Robert Hogarth and Professor Arie Frieberg.

An expression of interest for the EPA’s new Chief Environmental Scientist (CES) has been released. The CES will boost EPA’s scientific expertise, ensuring that environmental and public health risks relating to pollution and waste are readily identified and communicated.

The EPA Inquiry, headed by an independent Ministerial Committee appointed last year, conducted intensive engagement with the community, industry and government to inform the Inquiry findings.

To read the EPA Inquiry full report and the details of the Government Response to the 48 Inquiry recommendations, see; http://delwp.vic.gov.au/environment-and-wildlife/epa-inquiry

Quotes attributable to local Member for Kororoit, Marlene Kairouz

“Kororoit will benefit from the Victorian Government’s commitment to build a stronger Environment Protection Authority to meet the environmental protection challenges now and in the future”

“The EPA plays an important role in protecting our environment so we’re investing to ensure it is modern, well-resourced and delivers for the Kororoit community.”

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