The Andrews Labor Government today released the final report of an independent inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), which examined the EPA’s role, powers, governance and funding.
The report provides 48 recommendations aimed at establishing a modernised EPA with a clear focus on environmental and human health.
The inquiry focused on what a growing Victoria will need from the EPA in the future, including responding to public health concerns with water and air quality, contaminated industrial sites, while having the flexibility to work with emerging industries.
It is the first comprehensive examination of the agency since its establishment in 1971.
The Labor Government will now consider the report’s findings alongside all 48 recommendations and will provide a comprehensive response, to be released later this year.
As an immediate response to some of the report’s recommendations, the Labor Government will act to enhance the EPA’s capacity by:
- establishing an interim board with a range of skills and expertise to guide the EPA in delivering reform, with Cheryl Batagol continuing to chair the EPA
- employing a Chief Environmental Scientist to strengthen the EPA’s focus on science
- improving their environmental health capability by working with the Department of Health and Human Services to shift their environmental health functions to the EPA overtime
While the Labor Government supports the concept of polluter pays and having appropriate licence fees, we do not support the specific proposal to move away from funding the EPA through the landfill levy.
It is not proposed to make major changes to these arrangements and the government will consult industry on how these funds are used.
Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Lisa Neville appointed a Ministerial Advisory Committee to undertake the inquiry, which commenced on June 1 2015.
The Committee, chaired by former Department of Justice Secretary Penny Armytage, with members Jane Brockington and Janice van Reyk, received more than 200 submissions from the public.
The report, and public submissions, can be viewed at www.epa-inquiry.vic.gov.au
Quotes attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville
“This is the world’s second oldest environmental watchdog, and we’re making sure the EPA is equipped to keep up with the times and has the powers and resources it needs to do its job.”
“This comprehensive report is the first step to create the modern watchdog Victoria needs.”