Media Releases | 17th Jan, 2017

Environment Victoria welcomes modernisation and strengthening of EPA

The Andrews government’s response to an independent inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority charts a clear course for a major and long-overdue strengthening of the state’s environmental watchdog, Environment Victoria said today.

“Victoria has changed significantly since the EPA was established in 1971. We’re pleased the Andrews government is modernising the EPA to deal with new and growing environmental challenges,” said Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham.

“Victoria’s EPA was ground-breaking when it was established in 1971, but in recent years it has lacked the necessary powers to deal with the big environmental challenges of our time. These proposed reforms will modernise our environmental watchdog and improve the state’s environment.”

Key points of reform include:

  • Changing the focus of the EPA to preventing harm rather than responding to pollution
  • Greater ability to hold polluters to account, including speedier prosecutions and stronger penalties
  • Creating a specialist environmental public health team
  • Strengthening the role of the EPA in mine regulation and strategic land use planning
  • Creating a Chief Environmental Scientist to bolster the scientific basis of the EPA’s regulatory work
  • Building a whole-of-government approach to improving environmental justice (how pollution and environmental conditions affect people in different socio-economic circumstances and locations).

“We look forward to seeing these important reforms implemented with the support of all sides of politics, including the Liberal Party, which first established the Victorian EPA under Henry Bolte’s leadership,” said Mr Wakeham.

“Creating a new general duty to prevent harm is critical to protecting Victorians and our environment. Everybody knows that prevention is better than cure, and we welcome this re-framing of the EPA’s work, which puts the onus on polluters to prevent harm.

“Despite the comprehensive suite of measures, it remains unclear how the EPA will be involved in dealing with the biggest environment challenge facing Victoria: climate change. As yet the government hasn’t given the EPA any clear direction on regulating climate pollution. We hope the EPA’s regulatory powers on greenhouse gases will be clarified when the Andrews government releases its imminent Climate Change Framework, which will set pollution reduction targets for the state.

“The EPA is a well-respected public authority, and it has a critical role to play in keeping us all safe from environmental harm. The proposed reforms should help create an effective twenty-first century environmental regulator.”

For interview and further comment:

Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO
Office: (03) 9341 8127 Mobile: 0439 700 501