Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Environment spokesperson
Tasmania should have an independent environmental monitoring body that strongly enforces the law to protect biodiversity and environmental values.
Our Environmental Management and Pollution Control Amendment (EPA Independence) Bill 2021 would make the EPA truly independent from government and industry influence.
The Environmental Protection Authority is Tasmania's most critical environmental regulator. Under the Liberals, supported by Labor, the EPA has been cowed into allowing environmental pollution and degradation to occur unpunished, or with ineffectual penalties.
Existing laws require the EPA Board to act consistent with a ‘Statement of Expectations’ from the Minister. The EPA’s Statement of Expectation directs it to take account of specific policies written by the Minister, as well as general government policies.
This means the Minister can direct the EPA on any matter, any time. The current Statement of Expectation notes – "The Government's policy position is that a productive community is better able to manage society's long-term environmental challenges, and I expect the Board to facilitate that outcome wherever it can."
A current example is the Liberal Government’s policy to expand the salmon industry to double its current size, and the instruction for the EPA to facilitate “affluence and productivity”. As a result, the EPA has continually failed to set operating conditions that prevent environmental damage by intensive salmon farming in Macquarie Harbour, or in shallow estuarine bays like Long Bay Port Arthur or Brabazon Point.
A truly independent environment protection agency is decades overdue, and our Bill would deliver that.