QLS says environmental clean-up reform amendments a win for Queensland
22 April 2016
Queensland Law Society has praised the State Government for guaranteeing landowners and native title holders were protected in its newly minted chain of responsibility bill.
Society president Bill Potts said amendments to the Labor Government’s Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016 was a win for common sense and the people of Queensland.
“While QLS supported the objective of the bill, it raised concern about unintended consequences in the drafting," Mr Potts said.
“The government responded and I personally met the Environment Minister, Dr Steven Miles, to discuss our concerns.
“I am pleased the government has listened to us and the concerns of other stakeholders.”
The comments follow the passing of the stronger environmental laws to prevent Queensland taxpayers picking up multimillion dollar environmental clean-up bills in the early hours of Friday morning.
The bill – which received bipartisan support – gave the environmental regulator greater powers to pursue companies, entities and individuals who failed to uphold their environmental responsibilities.
Dr Miles said the new laws signalled an intent to crack-down on poor environmental performers who considered site rehabilitation as a mere after-thought.
“Up until now, our regulators have only dealt with the person or the business which directly holds an environmental authority," he said.
"These new laws create a legal chain of responsibility for environmental harm.
“The people hiding behind a business which is doing the wrong thing will now be expected to take action, and the people who should make a contribution to clean up."
Mr Potts said QLS was pleased it had been made clear the government did not intend for this law to target farmers or native title holders with resources activity on their land.
“It would have been an injustice for these people to have been potentially responsible for the environmental clean-up of projects on their land, especially if it wasn’t of their choosing," he said.
“QLS is also pleased that a statutory guideline is to be developed to constrain the use of these powers and best direct them to ensuring polluters clean up their own mess.
“QLS looks forward to being a part of the development of that guideline.”
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