SUBMISSION TO THE INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO THE VICTORIAN ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AUTHORITY

The challenges facing Victoria in the future are numerous. Population growth, increased waste streams, climate fluctuations and technology advancement are all part of a complex set of issues that the people and government of Victoria will have to manage. The EPA cannot be expected to manage all these issues, and nor should it.

Rather than broadening and diversifying, the EPA should focus on a few key issues and ensure that overlap with other regulatory regimes is removed or at least reduced. This will enable the EPA to maximise outcomes rather than spread itself too thin. A further advantage will be clarity to all stakeholders what the EPA’s mandate is rather than the confusion that currently prevails. An additional concern of the minerals industry is that in broadening its remit, the EPA will become an additional approvals layer in an already onerous state approval environment and thus cause further delay and additional costs to applicants.

The minerals industry supports an EPA playing a significant role in prevention. The EPA, as with all regulators, has the unique insight into the range of risks associated with specific activities that have the potential to cause harm. This information is invaluable to industry and can be used to generate advice and examples of good practice that can then be disseminated to businesses. Targeted information can contribute greatly to compliance. The transformation of the EPA over time to a risk based regulator has been supported by the minerals industry 

Given that the minerals industry is not one of the EPA’s key regulated sectors, over time there have been policies and procedures developed without consultation with the minerals industry. This has at times meant that those policies and procedures are simply unworkable in the context of the minerals industry and has led to inaccurate advice and delays to approvals processes. The EPA must consult with the minerals industry in the development and review of policies. In the absence of in-house sectoral knowledge, the EPA should also establish a process whereby appropriate technical advice is sourced as required.

The MCA continues to be concerned that the EPA has been elected as the vehicle to regulate for greenhouse gas reductions. The MCA believes that neither the implications of declaring greenhouse gases as pollutants nor the use of the EPA as the regulatory instrument has been fully thought through. Similarly, the MCA does not agree that the use of an air quality management SEPP – a highly specific and complex regulatory instrument that is currently under review – is appropriate for the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

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