Reform to Queensland’s environmental enforcement laws – Jones Review and EPOLA Act
Background of the Jones Review
In April 2022, an independent review into the adequacy of existing powers and penalties under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (Qld) (EP Act) was commissioned, with the inquiry directed towards the adequacy of existing legislative powers for ensuring environmental performance, and providing for penalties if environmental laws and duties are breached.
The review was conducted by retired District Court Judge Richard Jones and Susan Hedge of Counsel. The final report, referred to as the ‘Jones Review’, was completed on 1 September 2022.
The Government issued an initial response to the Jones Review and each of its recommendations. The Government has now released a more detailed proposed response to each of the Jones Review recommendations that have not yet been implemented (as some were already implemented as part of parallel legislative reform, referred to below). Public consultation on the review and the government response is open until 10 November 2023.
In our article on 14 October 2022, we reported on the introduction of the Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 (Qld) (EPOLA Bill), which sought to amend certain provisions of the EP Act. Read article here.
The Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2023 (Qld) (EPOLA Act) passed and commenced on 5 April 2023, amending the EP Act.
As noted above, a number of the recommendations from the Jones Review had been implemented as part of the EPOLA Act.
In this article series, we focus on some of the key changes arising from the Jones Review, the EPOLA Act, and ongoing discussion in relation to environmental law reform. Look out for our articles on topics such as:
- Changes to environmental authorities;
- Enhancing the general environmental duty (GED) and creating a new offence for failure to comply with the GED;
- Transitional environmental programs;
- Powers of authorised persons, provisions for repeat offenders, and other miscellaneous provisions to enhance compliance functions;
- Waste legislation;
- Contaminated land; and
- Temporary authorities.
Seminar | Unlocking the environmental regulator’s toolbox | 9 November 2023
On 9 November we will be hosting an in-person seminar at our Brisbane office where we examine the tools available to the regulator under the EP Act, how the regulator is using the tools, and provide practical tips to help you navigate the complexity of environmental compliance. We will also briefly touch on the recommendations and proposed changes following the independent review conducted by Judge Richard Jones and Barrister Susan Hedge.
You can register for the seminar via the registration link here.
This publication covers legal and technical issues in a general way. It is not designed to express opinions on specific cases. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be regarded as legal advice. Further advice should be obtained before taking action on any issue dealt with in this publication.