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June 2017 Bulletin


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This month

NELA news and events
01. NELA National Conference: Addressing Past Harm, Managing Future Risks

Law and policy developments

02. In the Legislature
03. Policy developments and other news
04. In the courts
05. Open for comment
06. Opportunities


07. (Melbourne & Sydney) EDO NT Art Auction
08. (Melbourne) Environmental and Carbon Obligations
09. (Melbourne) Energy futures seminar
10. (Sydney) Managing asbestos waste and contamination
11. (Melbourne) Energy efficiency forum: Managing gas price shocks
12. (Perth) Energy and mines summit
13. (Sydney) Australasian Groundwater Conference
14. ((Sydney) Clean energy summit
15. (Brisbane) NELA National Conference
16. (Brisbane) CASANZ 2017: The Critical Atmosphere
17. (Hobart) Imagining a Different Future: Overcoming Barriers to Climate Justice


NELA news and events

NELA National Conference, 4 August 2017: Addressing Past Harm, Managing Future Risks
4 August 2017 - early bird tickets available until 30 June 2017

Have you seen the great line-up for the 2017 NELA National Conference?  Kicking off with Dr Bill Jackson discussing the latest State of the Environment Report, the conference features a wide range of experts looking at environmental indicators, rehabilitation, native title, managing climate risks and opportunities for business law to facilitate better environmental outcomes.

The conference will be held at the offices of our sponsor, King & Wood Mallesons, in Brisbane on 4 August 2017.

Great rates apply for NELA members, especially if you take advantage of the early bird special before 30 June 2017.  Spaces are strictly limited, so get in quick to avoid missing out.

For program and registration details, click here.

To join or renew your membership, click here.


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Law and policy development

In the Legislature


New Bill to allow CEFC to invest in carbon capture and storage technologies

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is a government organisation which mobilises capital investment in renewable energy, low-emission technology and energy efficiency by investing and co-financing to attract private sector finance. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation Amendment (Carbon Capture and Storage) Bill 2017 seeks to remove the current prohibition on the CEFC investing in carbon capture and storage technologies.

The Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on 31 May 2017 and is yet to be debated.

For information about the Bill, click here.


Bill to amend industrial chemical management framework

The government has introduced a Bill to replace the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) with the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), an amended framework for assessing and approving industrial chemicals.

The Bill allows "very low risk" chemicals to be used without assessment, and also seeks to ban the use of animal testing for cosmetics.

For more information about the Bill, click here.


New South Wales

EPA drone powers confirmed

The Protection of the Environment Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Act 2017 was assented to on 1 June 2017. The Act amends existing laws to confirm EPA powers to use drones and GPS vehicle tracking devices to collect evidence, extends the time limit for groundwater contamination prosecutions to three years, allows ‘repeat’ waste offences to occur up to three years apart, and increases penalties under the Radiation Control Act 1990.


Northern Territory

New Bushfire Regulations

The Territory government has gazetted the Bushfires Management (General) Regulations 2017, establishing a range of infringement notice offences under the Bushfires Management Act.

For information about the Regulations, click here.



Planning Regulations

On 1 June 2017, the Queensland Government gazetted the comprehensive new Planning Regulations to implement the Planning Act 2016. The Regulations aim to support key government priorities including quality urban design outcomes, housing affordability, coastal planning laws and climate change actions.

To read the Regulations, click here.



Treasurer given power to cap power prices

On 24 May 2017, the Legislative Council passed the Electricity Supply Industry Amendment (Pricing) Bill 2017, allowing the Treasurer to set an alternative wholesale electricity price if he considers that the price determined by the Tasmanian Economic Regulator will be unsustainable for residential and small business customers. The Legislative Council inserted a two year limit on the power to encourage a review of its operation, but made no other changes to the Bill.

For more information about the Bill, click here


Changes to Aboriginal Relics Act

On 1 June 2017, the Aboriginal Relics Amendment Act 2017 was passed by the Legislative Council, with only one amendment to give authorised officers powers of arrest where a person refuses to leave a protected site.

The Government has also invited nominations for the Aboriginal Heritage Council from members of Tasmania’s Aboriginal community.

For information about the Bill, click here



New EPA legislation introduced

The Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change introduced a Bill to restructure the Victorian EPA, following a comprehensive review of the agency completed in 2016. 

The Bill seeks to modernise the governance of the EPA and introduce a statutory objective requiring the EPA to "protect human health and the environment by reducing the harmful effects of pollution and waste." The government has indicated that a second bill to update the Environment Protection Act 1970 itself will be introduced later in the year.

The Bill is scheduled for debate on 21 June 2017. For more information about the Bill, click here.


Latrobe Valley to get new Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner

On 25 May 2017, the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment (Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner) Act 2017 was passed. The Minister confirmed that the government would appoint a Latrobe Valley Commissioner, to be based in Morwell. 

The Commissioner will consult with communities, advise the Government on mine rehabilitation, and assist in developing the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy.

For more information, click here.


Impact assessment for plastics ban Bill

In June 2017, the parliamentary inquiry investigating the Environment Protection Amendment (Banning Plastic Bags, Packaging and Microbeads) Bill 2016 released its report, recommending that a legislative impact assessment be undertaken to better understand the implications of the Bill.

To read the inquiry report, click here. For details of the Bill, click here.


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Policy developments and other news


US withdraws from Paris Agreement

President Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, joining Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries not participating in the accord.

Australia, along with many nations, has confirmed that the US withdrawal does not alter its commitment to the Paris Agreement.

To read Minister Josh Frydenberg’s statement reaffirming Australia’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, click here.



Finkel review released

On 9 June 2017, Dr Alan Finkel released his panel’s review of the National Electricity Market, Blueprint for the Future. A key recommendation of the review is the introduction of an incentive-based clean energy target, which the report estimates will achieve 28% emissions reduction by 2030 while maintaining lower electricity prices than an emissions intensity scheme. The report recommends that governments consider more ambitious targets, and the development of a 2050 target.

Other recommendations include:

  • Development ofa system-wide grid plan

  • Imposing energy security obligations on network providers and generators

  • Regularly reviewingthe grid's resilience to extreme weather and other environmental threats

  • Establishinga new Energy Security Board to manage implementation of changes and annually audit the National Electricity Market’s performance.

To read the review, click here.

You can read responses to the review from a range of agencies: Climate Council, Climate Institute, Grattan Institute.

The Climate Change Authority and Australian Energy Market Commission also released a report recommending an emissions intensity scheme, and estimating that existing policy uncertainty has resulted in electricity prices $27-40 per MWh higher than would be expected.

The CSIRO report released a Low Emissions Technology roadmap, describing pathways for decarbonising the energy industry and technologies to reduce fugitive emissions.


Australia signs on for tougher ballast water rules

Australia has ratified the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediment, agreeing to implement actions to tighten controls on ship discharges that can spread pollution and marine pests. The Convention will take effect in September 2018.

To find out more about the Convention, click here.


New Chair announced for the Clean Energy Regulator

The Turnbull Government has appointed David Parker AM as Chair of the Clean Energy Regulator, the agency responsible for administering legislation to reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of clean energy.

For more information, click here.


Uluru Statement

On 26 May 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders released the Uluru Statement from the Heart of the Nation, rejecting symbolic constitutional recognition in favour of a referendum for a constitutional statement of sovereignty and establishment of a commission to work towards makarrata, a Yolgnu word for treaty.

For a good summary of the discussions leading to the Uluru Statement, click here


Productivity Commission releases marine fisheries and aquaculture report

The Productivity Commission has issued its final report on the regulation and management of marine fisheries and aquaculture. The report concludes that “policy settings are not maximizing the value of fisheries to the community” and makes a series of recommendations to improve the framework. 

To read the report, click here.


New South Wales

Mining lease cancellation a first for NSW

The Department of Planning and Environment has cancelled a mining lease for a stone mine due to ongoing compliance issues. Following the mine’s failure to pay the required environmental rehabilitation security deposit, to lodge a plan of management for the mine, to provide the Department with annual reports, or to mine the lease effectively, the Department considered cancellation of the lease was the only option.

For further details, click here.



Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy 2017

On 4 June 2017, the Government released a new Permanent Native Forest Estate Policy, allowing up to 40 hectares of land (other than threatened vegetation communities) to be cleared annually on agricultural land.

Under the Regional Forest Agreement, Tasmania committed to phase out broadscale clearing on private land by 2015. A policy restricting broadscale clearing to 20ha over 5 years was originally intended to take effect on 1 January 2015, but were deferred until 1 January 2016, then further deferred until 1 July 2016, and again until 1 July 2017 (to tie in with the proposed rollover of the RFA).

Under the new Policy, clearing more than 20ha of private forest over 5 years will not be permitted, unless for a "substantial public benefit". However, the new limit will not apply to clearing for agricultural purposes, provided no threatened vegetation will be cleared.

To read the revised Policy, click here. The Tasmanian and Federal governments have previously indicated that the Regional Forest Agreement will be rolled over in June.

Climate Action 21 released

The Tasmanian Government has released Climate Action 21, following consultation on an earlier draft plan in 2016. Climate Action 21 sets out an “aspirational emissions reduction target of zero net emissions by 2050” and a range of actions across six priority areas.

The government has committed $3M over the next four years to implement the Plan.

To read Climate Action 21, click here. For a summary of the plan, including its shortcomings, click here


EPA releases final biomass determination for Macquarie Harbour

On 31 May 2017, the Director of the EPA determined that the biomass cap for Macquarie Harbour for 2017-2018 will be set at 12,036 tonnes, or 13t/ha of farmed lease areas. Despite clear findings of a steady decline in dissolved oxygen across the harbour and risks to the Maugean skate, the Director will allow Tassal to exceed its allocated cap and stock up to 28t/ha, provided an “approved waste capture system” is installed.

The Director released guidelines for waste capture systems, and granted approval for Tassal to trial five waste collection units during June 2017.

Huon Aquaculture’s submissions to the EPA raised strong concerns about the effectiveness of waste collection systems, and the appropriateness of trialing unproven systems in an already compromised environment. The company has confirmed it will continue its legal challenge against the Director’s determination.

For a timeline of events in Macquarie Harbour, click here.


Ban on salmon farming in Mercury Passage

Following broad public concern regarding the impact of salmon farming in Okehampton Bay, the Minister for Primary Industries announced that the yet-to-be-released Sustainable Industry Growth Plan will ban expansion of farming into Mercury Passage. 

The ban will have no impact on the current Okehampton Bay lease. Tassal has previously indicated that it has no intention to expand beyond the current lease boundaries into Mercury Passage.

To read more regarding proposed restrictions, click here.


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In the courts

New South Wales

Company Director convicted for pollution offences

The Land and Environment Court has fined the sole director of Sydney Drum Machinery Pty Ltd $151,000 for failing to prevent contaminated water discharging from the company’s premises into a creek in January 2012. In addition to the fine, the court ordered the Director to pay the EPA’s investigation and legal costs.

For more information, click here.


Dyno Nobel fined for water pollution

The Land and Environment Court found Dyno Nobel guilty of water pollution and licence contravention offences relating to emissions of nitrate and ammonia from its Warkworth property.  The Court fined the company $406,000 and ordered its subsidiary, Incitec Pivot, to pay EPA costs exceeding $70,000.

The Court further held that requiring publication of the offences in local papers was insufficient and ordered that notice also be published in the Australian Financial Review.

To read the decision in EPA v Dyno Nobel Asia Pacific, click here.



Land Court recommends against New Acland mine expansion

The Land Court of Queensland has recommended that the Minister refuse to grant mining leases and an environmental authority for the proposed expansion of the New Acland coal mine in South East Queensland. The presiding member found that the project would have unacceptable impacts on groundwater and would not adequately manage its noise impacts.

The decision is the first time that the Land Court has recommended against granting coal mining leases. The decision is not binding, and the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines has yet to confirm how he will respond to the Court’s recommendations.

To read the decision, click here.



Huon Aquaculture claims Tassal in breach of biomass cap

Following the EPA Director’s determination of a new biomass cap for Macquarie Harbour (see above), Huon Aquaculture filed proceedings in the Federal Court seeking a declaration that Tassal is in breach of the revised cap.

The EPA Director subsequently revised and reissued the biomass determination to clarify how Tassal’s allocation was calculated. 

To find out more about the legal action, click here.  Huon Aquaculture is also maintaining its previous action against the management actions of the EPA Director and the Minister regarding Macquarie Harbour.


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Open for comment


Future of Australian Environmental Laws - technical reports released

The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law has drafted eight technical papers outlining a series of recommended reforms to ensure Australia's suite of environmental laws are as transparent, efficient, effective and participatory as possible.  

Comments on the papers are invited until 30 June 2017.  To read the papers, click here


Role of Australian Government in development of cities

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities is conducting an Inquiry into the Australian Government’s role in the development of cities, sustainability transitions in existing cities and growing new sustainable regional cities and towns.

Submissions to the inquiry can be made until 21 July 2017. For more information, click here.


Climate change impacts to built environment

The Senate Environment and Communications References Committee is conducting an inquiry into the current and future impacts of climate change on housing, buildings and infrastructure, including water supply, transportation and energy infrastructure, and the adequacy of current climate policies.

Submissions can be made until 21 July 2017.  For more information, click here.


New South Wales

Biodiversity Regulations and supporting documents

The NSW government has released draft regulations and policies to support the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016. The draft regulations deal with matters including private land conservation agreements, biodiversity offsets and biodiversity certification, while supporting documents outline biodiversity assessment measures, an offset calculator and guidance on what constitutes serious and irreversible harm.

Comments can be made until 21 June 2017. For more information, click here.


Container deposit scheme: Regulation Impact Statement

The EPA is seeking comments on the regulatory impacts of its proposal to seek a permanent exemption from Commonwealth mutual recognition laws to facilitate the implementation of a NSW container deposit scheme.

Submissions can be made until 21 June 2017.  For more information, click here.


Draft Pesticides Regulation

The EPA has released draft Pesticides Regulation 2017 seeking to update licensing, training and data collection requirements.

Comments on the draft Regulations can be made until 7 July 2017.  For more information, click here.


Littering and illegal dumping

The EPA has released two consultation papers on dumping and littering strategies:


Draft management plans for parks and reserves

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service is seeking feedback on the following draft management plans:



Mine Rehabilitation and Financial Assurances - discussion papers

The Queensland Government has released two discussion papers as part of its proposed integrated mined land management framework:

Comments on the papers can be made until 15 June 2017. For more information, click here.

Hear analysis of the proposed framework from regulators, industry and practitioners at the NELA National Conference.


Review of the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998

The Wet Tropics Management Authority is reviewing the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998. The Plan regulates activities within the World Heritage area, which may have an impact on World Heritage values and integrity.

Comment on the review can be made until 15 June 2017. For more information, click here.


Draft Water Monitoring and Sampling Manual

A draft manual addressing sampling design, scientific assessment and data handling under the Environmental Protection (Water) Policy 2009 has been released for comment. 

Comments on the draft Manual can be made until 31 July 2017.  For more information, click here.


South Australia

Northern and Yorke Catchment Action Plans

Submissions are invited on the development of Catchment Action Plans for the Willochra, Broughton, Wakefield and Light Catchments. 

The completed Willochra and Broughton Draft Plans have been released for public comment, while general feedback regarding the yet to be finalised Wakefield and Light Draft Plans can be made via an online survey.

Submissions and survey responses can be made until 30 June 2017.  For more information, click here.


Tallaringa Conservation Park Management Plan

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources is seeking feedback on the draft management plan for Tallaringa Conservation Park.

Submissions can be made until 14 July 2017. For more information, click here.

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Applications sought for NSW Biodiversity Conservation Advisory Panel

The NSW Government is inviting applications for membership on the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Advisory Panel, to provide independent, expert advice to the Minister on management of biodiversity conservation and to the Chief Executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage on proposed declarations of biodiversity areas.

Applications close on 18 June 2017. For more information, click here.


Support environmental justice organisations

Environmental Defenders Offices and Environmental Justice Australia play an important role in servicing public interest planning and environmental law need across Australia.  These organisations are largely reliant on philanthropic support to operate.  NELA invites its members to consider making an end of financial year donation to their local office.


Australian Academy of Law Essay Prize

The topic for this year’s essay is: How well do Australian legal institutions respond to climate change? How could that response be improved?

Any judicial officers, legal practitioners, legal academics and law students are eligible to submit an essay addressing the topic, and be in the running for a $10,000 prize.

If you intend to submit an essay, you will need to submit an expression of interest by 30 June 2017.  Final essays must then be submitted by 31 August 2017.

To find out more about the prize, click here.


Funded Environmental Law PhD

Full scholarships are being offered by the Research Institute of Environmental Law (RIEL) to support students to enrol in the Institute’s English-language PhD Program.

Suitably qualified persons from all countries are encouraged to apply. Research is supported in all areas of environmental law, whether focused on China or not.

Expressions of interest in RIEL’s PhD Program should be sent in the first instance to Professor Alexander Zahar, Luojia Distinguished Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University: zahar.edu@gmail.com.

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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!


(Melbourne & Sydney) EDO NT Art Auction

The third annual EDO NT fundraising auction of amazing Aboriginal artwork is underway. Online bidding concludes on 22 June 2017, proceeded by auction events that evening in Sydney and Melbourne.

Sydney: Gilbert and Tobin


(Melbourne) Environmental and Carbon Obligations 

Join the Australian Environment Business Network for a seminar examining changes to environmental and carbon obligations expected to take effect from mid-2017.

When: 16 June 2017, 8:45am

Where:  HWL Ebsworth, Lvl 26, 530 Collins St

For more information, click here.


(Melbourne) Energy futures seminar

The Grattan Institute is presenting a seminar to discuss the Finkel review of the National Electricity Market featuring Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator, Audrey Zibelman, and the Grattan Institute’s Energy Program Director, Tony Wood.

When:  22 June 2017, 6pm

Where: Carrillo Gantner Theatre, University of Melbourne

For more information, click here.


(Sydney) Managing asbestos waste and contamination 

The Australian Sustainable Business Group is hosting a conference on waste and contamination issues relating to asbestos.

When: 23 June 2017, 8:20am

Where:  Henry Davis York, Martin Place

For more information, click here.


(Melbourne) Energy efficiency forum: Managing gas price shocks 

The Energy Efficiency Council is hosting a seminar with Minister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg to discuss gas price regulation.

When:  28 June 2017, 11:45am

Where:  Sofitel Melbourne on Collins

For more information, click here.


(Perth) Energy and mines summit
The Energy and Mines Australia summit has a programme comprising national and international speakers discussing energy and mining futures.

When: 28- 30 June 2017

Where: Pan Pacific Perth

For more information, click here.


(Sydney) Australasian Groundwater Conference  

Join the UNSW Global Water Institute for a gathering of experts to discuss emerging groundwater issues, climate change impacts, human health assessments and interdisciplinary approaches to groundwater management.

When:  11 – 13 July 2017

Where: UNSW Kensington Campus

For more information, click here.


(Sydney) Clean energy summit 

Join the Clean Energy Council for the 2017 summit discussing policy settings, technology and economic issues.

When:  18-19 July 2017

Where: Hilton, Sydney

For more information, click here.


Header(Brisbane) NELA National Conference

The theme for this year’s NELA National Conference is Addressing Past Harm, Managing Future Risks.

Hear from experts including Dr Bill Jackson, Land Court President Fleur Kingham, Sarah Barker, Saul Holt QC, Greg McIntyre SC, Matthew Austin and Professor Ben Richardson about the state of Australia’s environment, how various States are addressing past impacts, and innovative mechanisms being explored to avoid future harm.

When:  4 August 2017

Where:  King & Wood Mallesons, Brisbane

For program and registration details, click here.  Early bird rates close on 30 June 2017 – register now to avoid missing out!


(Brisbane) CASANZ 2017:  The Critical Atmosphere

This year’s Clean Air Society conference examines the effects of climate change on human health and wellbeing demands that we understand more about the physical and chemical processes underlying air quality, their effects on human health and welfare, and our capacity to effectively control and regulate air pollution.

When: 15 – 18 October 2017

Where: Pullman Hotel, Brisbane

For more information, click here.


(Hobart) Imagining a Different Future: Overcoming Barriers to Climate Justice

The University of Tasmania is hosting a global, multidisciplinary conference examining the barriers to responding to climate change, implementing climate justice, and proposing ways forward.

When:  8-9 February 2017

Where: University of Tasmania

Abstracts for the conference must be submitted by 7 August 2017. For more information, click here.


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The NELA Bulletin is researched and written entirely by volunteers.  We’d like to wish a very fond farewell to our long-serving Commonwealth contributor, Ebony Holland, as she heads overseas for new challenges and adventures.  Thanks, Ebony!

NELA also thanks this month’s other contributors:

  • Jess Feehely, EDO Tasmania - editor
  • Natasha Hammond – contributor, NSW
  • Claire McGowan – contributor, WA
  • Wildaliz de Jesus – contributor, Cth