This submission was written by EDO ACT on behalf of the Australian Network of EDOs.
This submission involves directing the Inquiry to key areas necessary for environmental protection and our recommendations focus on the necessity for any regulatory management framework responsible for the development of Northern Australia to be underpinned by a strong and effective statutory regime to provide for these protections.
EDO ACT provided this joint submission, along with the Conservation Council - ACT Region on the Nature Conservation Bill 2013.
In short we broadly support the provisions within the Consultation Draft Bill and welcome the modernising of 34 year old legislation. We also welcome the alignment of it with national legislation – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This document details the major concerns we have for what is not included in the Bill.
EDO ACT as provided several recommendations for amendments to the Nature Conservation Bill to strengthen the protection provided to the environment, as well as improving the effectiveness of enforcement and compliance with the requirements of the proposed bill.
The EDO supports a robust and far-reaching heritage framework. Whether an item is of environmental, cultural or Indigenous significance, matters of heritage are of great value to the ACT and its communities. In many ways the Heritage Act 2004 (ACT) achieves this, and although we are supportive of some of the changes proposed in the the Bill, we question others which have the potential to undermine the Heritage Act’s overarching objects.
The EDO is of the view that the current restrictive standing provision in the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1989 (ACT) operates to limit accountability to the community a propos government decision-making (affecting the environment). The ADJR Bill clearly has the capacity to bring about a positive change by means of the extension it gives to the use of judicial review as a statutory tool. The result will be a greater scrutiny of government decisions and consequently greater transparency and accountability.
As a public interest law centre we strongly support the implementation of efficient and effective environmental laws in the ACT for the benefit and wellbeing of the ACT community. The Planning and Development Act 2007 (ACT), if implemented correctly, has the capacity to meet the requirements for comprehensive, engaging and coherent strategic planning to meet the ACT’s growing sustainability challenges.