Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT and CLIMATE CHANGE, Mr JAENSCH
At a time of biodiversity crisis, with endangered species hanging on by beak and claw and waste pollution ballooning, you decimate the environmental management budget. After removing the fund to separate the EPA, your cut is nearly $50 million over the forward Estimates. The extra money for threatened species assessment and recovery is a drop in the ocean compared to the number and complexity of pressures these animals and plants face. Tasmanians who understand the mountain of waste we produce will be outraged you killed off funding to become a plastic-free state with a circular economy.
As Environment minister do you agree this is a slap in the face for people working to protect species? How can we possibly keep our suburbs and wild places free from unchecked waste without significant investment?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for her question. The Tasmanian Government has taken important steps to progress the structural and organisational separation of the Environment Protection Authority. Dr Woodruff in her question acknowledged that significant changes have been made there for the better. The separation of the EPA from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment created a new, independent state EPA. This change has reaffirmed the independence of the EPA. Our Government believes that independent and robust environmental assessment and regulation is an essential part of Tasmania's planning and approvals system through the resource management and planning system.
The new model will ensure public confidence in environmental regulation in Tasmania and promote certainty for proponents. The Budget commitment includes an increase of $2 million per year, ongoing, for additional resources to increase the rigour and integrity of environmental assessments.
The additional funding will also allow for an increase to the number of environmental regulatory and compliance staff for the broader regulatory requirements and environmental management of the fin-fish industry. This includes an additional senior compliance officer, Director of Fin-Fish Compliance, and Director of Environmental Regulation.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Mr Speaker,, standing order 45 on relevance. I did not ask about the EPA. I asked about the $50 million cut to the rest of the Environment budget.
Mr SPEAKER - I cannot put words into the minister's mouth. They will answer the questions the way they see fit.
Mr JAENSCH - Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Dr Woodruff's question really did include reference to the EPA budget allocation. I have no hesitation in responding to that. Also, the Budget includes $500 000 per year to support new independent accommodation for staff of the EPA after separation from NRE Tasmania.
This is a Government with integrity and heart, one that is courageous and accountable and delivers on its commitments. We have proposed legislative amendments to confirm the separation of the EPA and to provide for increased transparency. Our bill remains open for public consultation.
Claims that funding for environmental management drops significantly over the forward Estimates are simply not true. The reason for the decrease in funding listed against environmental management is the reallocation of funds to the EPA now established as an independent state authority. We have increased funding for the EPA, including $2 million for additional resources and $500 000 for new independent accommodation. The EPA's budget is now included in volume 2 of the Budget papers. I would encourage members to take a look at this, to see the increased investment our Government is providing.