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November 2016 Bulletin


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The NELA Bulletin is published on the first Thursday of each month except January.

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This month

NELA news and events
01. NELA National Conference
02. WA State Conference
03. Student Essay Competition

Law and policy developments
04. In the Legislature
05. Policy developments and other news
06. In the courts
07. Open for comment
08. Other

09. (Melbourne) 2016 NELA National Conference
11. (Melbourne) Responsible Investment 2016
11. (Sydney) Building the business case for energy efficiency
12. (Melbourne) 2016 National Private Land Conservation Conference
13. (Sydney) Australian Climate Leadership 2016
14. (Adelaide) Environmental Law Seminar
15. (Sydney) Sustainable Development Goals Australia 2016 (inc Banksia Awards)
16. (Brisbane) Minerals Council Environment Workshop
17. (Montreal) Impact Assessment’s Contribution to the Global Efforts in Addressing Climate Change)

NELA news and events

NELA National Conference – last day to register!

This year’s national NELA conference is just around the corner.

Professor Tim Flannery will kick off the conference with a challenging look at what environmental law can do better, followed by some of Australia’s leading experts discussing persistent challenges in environmental management and cultural heritage practices.

The conference is an unmissable opportunity to network with judges, regulators, practitioners, consultants and policy makers, and to discuss opportunities to improve our laws, and the ways that we implement them. Tickets are limited, so register TODAY to secure your spot.

NELA thanks our conference partners, King & Wood Mallesons. For the full programme and registration details, click here.


WA State Conference - Environmental Law: Where are we now, and where are we going?

Thanks to all those who attended and presented at the WA NELA conference on 27 October 2016. Presentations from the event will be available on the NELA website soon.


Student Essay Competition

The National Environmental Law Association’s Student Essay Competition is now open. NELA invites any under-graduate or post-graduate student from an Australian university to submit high quality essays on any environmental or climate law topic. Winners receive $1,000 and a NELA membership.

Essays must be submitted by 2 December 2016 . For more information, click here .


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Law and policy development

In the Legislature


New Marine Protected Area in the Southern Ocean

After many years of negotiations, an agreement was reached for a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Southern Ocean at the 35th meeting of the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in October.

The Ross Sea MPA, covering approximately 1.55 million square kilometres, will conserve regional biodiversity and act as a reference area to monitor the effects of fishing and climate change on Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems. For more information, click here .

To read more about the background to the negotiations click here .

International Whaling Commission meeting

The 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission was held in Slovenia from 20-28 October 2016.

Australia and New Zealand put forward a draft resolution proposing that countries intending to carry out scientific whaling involving killing whales require permission from the IWC, and that a new scientific committee be established to consider proposed programmes. The draft resolution did not get an absolute consensus, but was adopted with a vote of 34:17 (with 10 abstentions). You can read about the practical implications of the resolution here .

A resolution on enhancing the effectiveness of the IWC was also adopted, under which a panel of three experts will review and analyse the Commission’s arrangements with governments and organisations, and provide recommendations for reforms to improve transparency, accountability and consultation processes.

For full details of resolutions made at the meeting, click here .

Paris Agreement enters into force; Australia ratifies

The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, 30 days after the threshold was reached of 55% of parties ratifying the Agreement. As a result, the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC also served as the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. For more information about the implications of the Agreement taking effect, click here.

Following strong recommendations from the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Treaties , on 10 November 2016 the Australian Government became the 104th state to ratify the Agreement.



Bill to establish a national register of foreign interests in Australian water entitlements

The Register of Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Act 2015 has been passed by the House of Representatives, and awaits debate in the Senate.

The Bill aims to establish a Register of Foreign Ownership of Water Entitlements, to be administered by the Commissioner of Taxation. The Water Register will include information about holdings in registrable water entitlements and long term contractual water rights held by foreign persons. The Bill would also amend the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 to facilitate the administration of the rules in relation to foreign investment in residential real estate and amend the Taxation Administration Act 1953 to for similar disclosure exceptions to those that exist in relation to the information in the Agricultural Land Register to accommodate the Water Register.

For more information about the Bill, click here.

MDB Sustainable Diversion Limits Adjustment Bill passes

The Water Legislation Amendment (Sustainable Diversion Limit Adjustment) Act 2016 was passed by the Senate on 9 November 2016. The Act amends the Basin Plan 2012 to provide for a second notification of sustainable diversion limit adjustment measures by 30 June 2017 to enable basin jurisdictions to develop and notify new projects to augment the package of measures notified earlier this year by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

For more information about the Bill, click here.


New South Wales

Biodiversity laws introduced

The NSW government has introduced its controversial biodiversity legislation package to parliament.

Prof Hugh Possingham, a key advisor to the Baird Government regarding the laws, quit his role in protest over the likely impacts of the legislation, claiming that broadscale land clearing could double if the laws are passed.

Labor and the Greens have opposed the laws, and Liberal Bruce Notley-Smith MP has also indicated that he will not support the legislation . Debate regarding the legislation will continue this week.

Hear more about NSW and Victorian biodiversity laws at the NELA Conference on 18 November 2016 .




Water bills passed with Adani amendment

The Queensland government passed the Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill , reversing changes introduced by the Newman Government exempting mining projects from water licence requirements. The Bill requires mining companies to assess their projects' impacts on groundwater, to propose strategies to manage those impacts and to remedy negative impacts experienced by landowners affected by the mining operation’s water use.

Controversially, the government introduced late amendments to specifically remove the right of third parties to appeal against water licence decisions made in relation to the Adani Carmichael coal mine.

The Water Legislation Amendment Bill was also passed, re-inserting provisions referring to the principles of ecologically sustainable development and removing provisions allowing water allocations for large irrigation projects to be expedited.

Adani Carmichael mine declared “critical infrastructure”

On 7 October 2016, Queensland State Development Minister, Anthony Lynham, declared Adani’s proposed Carmichael Mine to be ‘critical infrastructure’ under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971 . The declaration covers the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, the North Galilee Basin Rail Project and the North Galilee Water Scheme Project.

Designation as critical infrastructure will expedite a number of approvals processes for the mine, but does not affect litigations currently on foot.



South Australia

Mobile Food Vendor legislation

The South Australian Government has been reviewing the regulatory framework for food vans, introducing the Local Government (Mobile Food Vendors) Amendment Bill 2016 . The Bill requires local councils to approve applications for food truck businesses and introduces a cross-jurisdictional ‘food safety passport’ to avoid the need for multiple approvals.

The Bill was passed by the House of Assembly on 4 November 2016 and awaits a decision in the Legislative Council. To find out more about the Bill, click here .




Fees and penalties for Crown Land uses

The Crown Land Legislation Amendment Act 2016 was passed on 11 October 2016. The Act increases maximum penalties under the Conservation, Forests and Lands Act 1987, Crown Land (Reserves) Act 1978, Land Act 1958 and Land Conservation (Vehicle Control) Act 1972 , and increases flexibility to set fees and grant exemptions and reductions in relation to public land.

The Act also removes the requirement for penalties under the Land Act 1958 to be enforced through summary proceedings, enabling the issue of penalty infringement notices.

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Policy developments and other news


Basin Authority releases report on community impacts

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority ( MDBA ) has released a report outlining community impacts of different levels of water recovery in the northern Murray–Darling Basin. This report explores the multiple and competing interests that the MDBA needs to balance - communities, industries and the environment - when considering whether to recommend changing water recovery targets.

The MDBA will consider the report before making any recommendations. If changes are proposed, the public be given an opportunity to comment before any amendments are tabled in Parliament.

For more information regarding the report, click here .

Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2015

The Australian and Queensland Governments have released the 2015 report card for the Great Barrier Reef, which details progress and results against the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.

The report card shows high pollution loads in most reef catchments and inshore marine environment and the seagrass in poor condition. The report highlights the need to accelerate the rate of change in order to meet the targets set out in the Plan.

To read the report, click here .

State of the Climate Report 2016

The CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology have released the 2016 State of the Climate report, the fourth of a biennial series that uses weather and climate science to monitor how our climate is changing. The reports show a consistent trend of ongoing, long-term climate change interacting with underlying natural variability, resulting in more extremely hot days and severe fire seasons in Australia.

To read the report, click here .

Senate inquiries re-adopted

A number of Senate inquiries that lapsed prior to the election have been re-adopted to allow the relevant Committees to finalise their reports. These include:

The inquiries will rely on submissions made previously and have not invited new submissions.

UN Special Rapporteur Reports on Human Rights Defenders

On 18 October 2016 the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders released an end-of-mission report, following several weeks meeting with stakeholders throughout Australia.

The report raises concerns regarding actual and proposed restrictions on the activities of refugee, Aboriginal, environmental and social justice advocates. Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst, was "astonished to observe mounting evidence of a range of accumulative measures that have levied enormous pressure on Australian civil society."

In relation to environmental issues, Mr Forst was particularly critical of government attempts to reduce standing for environmental groups to challenge decisions, vitriolic terms such as "lawfare" being used to describe those challenges, funding cuts to EDOs, threats to tax deductibility for environmental advocacy groups, and Tasmania's anti-protest laws.

To read the full report, click here .

Despite the report urging the government to abandon plans to limit standing under the EPBC Act, the government renewed criticism of "vigilante" legal attacks on coal projects and indicated that the standing reform proposal would be re-introduced.


South Australia

Citizens’ Jury opposed to nuclear waste storage

A citizens' jury convened by the South Australian government to discuss recommendations of the Royal Commission into the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, has reported that two thirds of jurists opposed pursuing nuclear waste disposal “under any circumstances”. For a copy of the jury’s report, click here .

The South Australian government will now consider the report and respond to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission report by the end of the year.

Hear from Mark Beaufoy about the South Australian nuclear waste storage proposal at the NELA Conference on 18 November 2016.




Govt flags option for early end to logging moratorium

As part of the 'forest peace deal', 400,000ha of high conservation forest was flagged for future reservation. When the Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Act 2014 was introduced to undo the deal, the 400,000ha was declared Future Potential Production Forest (FPPF) land. No native forest harvesting can occur on FPPF land, nor can the land be sold, transferred or converted to timber production land until April 2020.

On 12 October 2016, the Minister for Resources announced that the government is considering amendments to bring forward the 2020 date, following advice from Forestry Tasmania that it would be difficult to meet contractual supply obligations from non FPPF forests in a financially prudent manner. To date, no formal legislative amendments to remove the 2020 restriction have been proposed.




Water for Victoria

The Victorian Government has released Water for Victoria , a ‘plan for a future with less water as Victoria responds to the impact of climate change and a growing population’. The plan sets out 69 proposed actions addressing climate change, catchment health, water for agriculture, Aboriginal values, recreational values, economic returns and more.

To read the plan, earlier discussion paper and submissions, click here .

Fishermans Bend Vision: The next chapter in Melbourne’s growth story

The Victorian Government has released the Fishermans Bend Vision , dividing the area into five distinct precincts and setting out benchmarks for urban renewal, strategic directions and sustainability goals.

To read the Vision document, click here . The next stage, development of the Fisherman’s Bend Framework , is expected to be released for public consultation in early 2017. Members of the public can also register for information workshops throughout November by clicking here .

The government also announced that developers with current applications for land within the Fishermans Bend area would be required to re-submit the applications and address stricter criteria which seek to facilitate more social housing.



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In the courts


NSW Govt intervenes in High Court challenge to Tasmanian anti-protest laws

On 4 November 2016, the NSW Attorney-General applied to intervene in Bob Brown’s High Court challenge to the Constitutional validity of Tasmania’s Workplace (Protection from Protestors) Act 2014. The Victorian government has also intervened.

On 26 October 2016, the NSW government also proclaimed the Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Act 2016 , introducing tough penalties for protest actions. The NSW Attorney-General explained the government’s intervention in the High Court challenge as focusing on the extent to which implied freedom of political communications restrict State legislative powers.



New South Wales

Waste offence costs Boral $172,000

The Shepparton Magistrates Court has fined Boral Resources $30,000 for unlawfully storing industrial waste (110,000t of concrete), and ordered the company to pay the EPA’s court costs and to publish details of the offence in major newspapers.

For details of the case, click here .



Northern Territory

EDO NT case overturns Port Melville approval

The Federal Court has quashed the approval of the $130m marine supply base at Port Melville (north of Darwin) under the EPBC Act, following an action commenced by the Environment Centre of NT.

A delegate of the former federal environment minister Greg Hunt had earlier determined that the controversial development was not a controlled action (and therefore did not require assessment or approval), provided it was carried out in accordance with a range of complex conditions. Justice White ruled that this decision was uncertain, and therefore invalid.

The matter will now be sent to Environment and Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, to reconsider whether the development is a controlled action. For more information about this case, click here .




Rehabilitation bond reduced, precautionary principle to be disregarded

On 31 October 2016, the Queensland Land Court made orders reducing a $12.5M rehabilitation assurance imposed on Citigold’s Charters Towers gold mine to $5.4M. The Court considered that the original assurance set by the DEPH was excessive, going beyond what was required to remediate likely impacts.

Member Paul Smith held that the precautionary principle was not a relevant factor in determining assurances, as the principle went to preventing environmental harm, rather than remediating it.

To read the decision in Citigold Corporation Limited v Department of Environment, Planning and Heritage , click here .


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Open for comment


Impacts of climate change on marine fisheries and biodiversity

The Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications is undertaking an inquiry into the current and future impacts of climate change on marine fisheries and biodiversity, including the effect on fish stocks and broader marine ecosystems. The inquiry will also examine the adequacy of protections for marine biodiversity, biosecurity measures and monitoring systems in responding to current and projected climate change impacts.

Submissions to the Inquiry can be made until 14 November 2016. For more information, click here.

Consultation on the updated land and sea transport ERF method

The Department of the Environment and Energy is calling for public submissions on an update to the Land and Sea Transport ERF method, enabling businesses to earn carbon credits by reducing the emissions intensity of vehicles in the land and sea transport sectors. A number of updates are proposed, including an extension of the method’s scope to include shifting the transport of certain freight to rail instead of road.

Submissions can be made until 21 November 2016. For more information, click here.

Draft National Strategy for Mitigating Vessel Strike of Marine Mega-fauna

The Department of the Environment and Energy has released the draft National Strategy for Mitigating Vessel Strike of Marine Mega-fauna for public comment. The Strategy is a guiding framework for identifying species most at risk of vessel collision, areas where these species are most at risk of vessel collision, and appropriate management measures to reduce the risk of vessel collisions with marine mega-fauna. The Strategy is not a statutory document and as such the objectives and action should not be considered binding or mandatory.

Submissions can be made until 9 December 2016. For more information, click here.

Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles

The Department of the Environment and Energy has released a draft Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia. The draft plan sets out research and management actions necessary to stop species decline, and support the recovery of threatened marine turtles.

Comments on the draft recovery plan can be made until 13 January 2017. For more information, click here.

Bill to protect Great Australian Bight

The Senate Environment Committee is holding an inquiry into the Greens’ proposed Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2016, which seeks to prevent drilling in the region.

Comments on the discussion paper can be made until 27 November 2016. For more information, click here.



New South Wales

Accreditation for EIA professionals

The NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes MP, has released a discussion paper that proposes new accountability checks for EIA professionals and stronger compliance procedures, including adherence to a Code of Practice, peer reviews and standardisation of auditing and reporting.

Comments on the discussion paper can be made until 27 November 2016. For more information, click here.

Climate Change Policy Framework

The NSW Government has released a new NSW Climate Change Policy Framework, comprising the Climate Change Fund Draft Strategic Plan and NSW Energy and Money. These documents provide important background on the government’s approach to achieving two key objectives: achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and improving resilience to a changing climate. The government has also announced a $500 million funding package to support initiatives outlined in the plans.

Comments on the draft plans can be made until 16 December 2016. For more information, click here.

A series of webinars regarding the framework documents are scheduled throughout November. For details, click here.

Licensing scheme review

The NSW Environment Protection Authority is reviewing the load-based licensing scheme that has been in operation since 1999 to assess its effectiveness and efficiency.

Comments on the review can be made until 23 December 2016. For more information, click here.

Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper

The Clean Air for NSW Consultation Paper outlines proposed actions for government to meet its goal of improving average air quality results across NSW.

The Environment Protection Authority is seeking feedback on the Paper. Comments can be made until 20 January 2017. For more information, click here.




Climate Change Adaptation Directions Statement

The Queensland government has released the Queensland Climate Adaptation Directions Statement, detailing the Government’s planned approach to “mainstreaming climate adaptation”.

Submissions on the draft Statement can be made until 14 December 2016. For more information, click here.

Planning reforms

Development Assessment Rules to support the new Planning Act 2016 and standardise assessment processes have been released for comment.

Comments can be made until 19 December 2016. For more information, click here.

Future of Queensland’s gas sector – discussion paper

The Queensland Government is developing a sector-wide gas action plan, which it expects to complete by mid-2017. As the first step in identifying the preferred approach to gas sector regulation, the government has released the Queensland Gas Supply and Demand Action Plan Discussion Paper.

Comments on the reform proposals set out in the Discussion Paper can be made until 19 December 2016. For more information, click here.

SEQ Regional Plan

The Queensland Government has released ShapingSEQ, a review of the current SEQ Regional Plan 2009-2031 and framework for managing the region's growth, as well as a series of background papers and technical notes to support the draft Plan.

Comments on the draft Plan can be made until 3 March 2017. For more information, click here.



South Australia

Draft Waste Reform Bill

The South Australian EPA has invited public comment on a consultation draft of the Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill 2016. The Bill seeks to tackle illegal dumping and increase penalties, while adopting a more flexible approach to landfill levies and financial assurances.

Comments on the Draft Bill can be made until 18 November 2016. For more information, click here.




Community Renewable Energy Projects

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has released a discussion paper, inviting comments on wind farm planning restrictions, community renewable energy projects, the current methodology for determining planning payments, and subsidies for grid connection.

Comments on the paper can be made until 28 November 2016. For more information, click here.


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IPCC seeks authors for special report on impacts of 1.5C warming

The IPCC has issued a call for nominations for experts to participate in the development of its special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. Experts are sought to fill the roles required of the writing and review teams: Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors and Review Editors.

Authors would need to be available to meet during the week of 6-12 March 2017. Subsequent meetings are scheduled for June 2017, October 2017 and April 2018.

Nominations for roles are to be submitted by 23 November 2016. For more information, click here.




The SA Department of State Development has invited energy service companies to join a list of energy performance contracting service providers for the Government Building Energy Efficiency Investment program.

Tenders can be submitted until 30 November 2016 . For more information, click here .


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Events offered by NELA’s partners (marked Header) can provide substantial savings for NELA members - so check them out and make the most of your NELA membership!

Leaf(Melbourne) 2016 NELA National Conference

Join NELA and a range of experts across many practice areas for an engaging discussion of the topic Environmental Law: What Could We Do Better?  

When: 18 November 2016, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Where: King & Wood Mallesons, Level 50, 600 Bourke St, Melbourne.

For programme and registration details, click here.


(Melbourne) Responsible Investment 2016

The Responsible Investment Association of Australia’s annual conference aims to assist investors to step up to meet the demands of responsible investment.

When : 23-24 November 2016
Where : Exhibition and Convention Centre

For more information, click here.


(Sydney) Building the business case for energy efficiency

The Office of Environment and Heritage is offering two half day workshops to support businesses to develop a business case for energy efficiency projects.

When: 24 November 2016 and 12 December 2016
Where: UNSW CBD campus

For more information, click here.


(Melbourne) 2016 National Private Land Conservation Conference

The Australian Land Conservation Alliance is hosting a conference discussing the latest innovations, opportunities and successes in private land conservation. With presentations from conservation leaders, practitioners and supporters, it is an event not to be missed.

When: 24- 25 November 2016
Where: National Australia Bank Arena, 700 Burke Street, Docklands

For more information, click here.


(Sydney) Australian Climate Leadership 2016

This CDP event looks at what the climate change landscape means for companies and investors, including expert briefings on the future of climate change disclosure requirements and case studies of companies committing to corporate reduction targets.

When: 28 November 2016, 2 – 6pm
Where: University of Sydney Business School

For more information, click here.


(Adelaide) Environmental Law Seminar

This seminar will cover topics including future directions for conservation policy, the Environment Protection Air Quality Policy 2016, the Waste Reform Bill and an update on Planning Reform. Speakers include Jody Gates (DEWNR), Steven Mudge, Tiana Nairn and Sally Jackson (EPA), Felicity Niemann (Wallmans Solicitors) and Dr Iris Iwanicki.

When: 29 November 2016, 9am - 12pm
Where: Room 10.1, Level 10, Flinders University City Campus 182 Victoria Square Adelaide

For more information, click here.


(Sydney) Sustainable Development Goals Australia 2016 (inc Banksia Awards)

The Banksia Foundation presents a conference focusing on the ‘what, why and how’ of implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in Australia, including discussion of how the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda will influence Australian policy. The conference will culminate in the Banksia Sustainability Awards 2016.

When: 29-30 November 2016
Where: University of Sydney, Business School

For more information, click here.


(Brisbane) Minerals Council Environment Workshop

The Minerals Council of Australia is hosting a 2 day workshop examining three key issues for the mining industry: Land access, tailings management and closure planning and rehabilitation.

When: 29-30 November 2016
Where: Hillstone, St Lucia

For more information, click here.


(Montreal) Impact Assessment’s Contribution to the Global Efforts in Addressing Climate Change

The International Association for Impact Assessment is hosting a global conference to share information, best practices, success stories, innovations, and lessons learned about the way impact assessment can address climate change issues.

When: 4-7 April 2017
Where: Le Centre Sheraton, Montréal

For more information, click here.


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Thanks to the NELA Bulletin team

The NELA Bulletin is researched and written entirely by volunteers. This month, we thank the following people for their contributions:


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