Environment Protection Amendment Bill would be a protesters’ paradise
Matt Johnston, Herald Sun
August 5, 2018 8:52pm
A BILL designed to cut pollution in Victoria has been dubbed a “protesters’ paradise” by critics who say they will lead to events and projects being shut down.
The Minerals Council of Australia has written to state MPs warning that the Environment Protection Amendment Bill could threaten jobs because of clauses giving new “community rights” to people wanting to hold potential polluters to account.
Critics say that, if passed, the Bill could shut down motocross and other events.
This would allow people to take matters to court if they believe the law is not being upheld by the Victorian Environment Protection Authority.
MCA executive director in Victoria, Megan Davison, says in her letter this could hurt the state’s competitiveness.
“The minerals industry has significant experience regarding third parties instigating appeals through court systems as a way to delay and disrupt projects,” Ms Davison wrote.
She told the Herald Sun this could limit the ability of companies to “create jobs and support the regional communities in which they operate”.
The Andrews Government has dismissed the concerns, and says the core objective of the Bill is to create a new environment duty that forces companies or individuals to consider and minimise pollution harm. The government says it is unlikely complaints could be made before an activity starts.
Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the third party rights “will allow Victorians affected by pollution to take action in the courts when they believe the law has been broken and the EPA hasn’t acted”.
But the Combined Firearms Council of Victoria is warning members of the risk to duck shooting or motocross events if protesters use the law — which passed the Lower House but is yet to be debated in the Upper House — to shut them down. In a blog about the “protesters’ paradise” Bill, it says an interim order could even be sought at court because of noise pollution.
“The effect of the Bill is to make it easy for such a person to shut down the activity they are complaining about, simply because of the risk that pollution might occur,” it says.
“The new laws could equally apply to the timber industry, the running of battery chicken farms, motocross — any activity which creates any form of pollution under the new definition.”
Environment Victoria applauded the government for creating “a legal right for the community to enforce pollution control laws”.