Legislative Issues

Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) 2016
Queensland Government Planning Bills and the Private Member Planning Bills
EPBC Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015
Bushland destruction increasing in Queensland, WWF briefing paper 2015
Submission to the Inquiry into the EPBC Act Amendment (Standing) Bill.
Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations: submission by Birds Queensland, May 2015
Draft Approval Bilateral Agreement between the Queensland and Australian Governments under the EPBC Act 1999: submission by Birds Queensland
Lecture: Rolling Back the Years-Regression in Commonwealth Environmental Laws
Mining Lease Notification and Objection Paper
Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013

Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016

On 17 March 2016 Hon. Jackie Trad MP, Deputy Premier, Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and Minister for Trade and Investment, introduced the above Bill to the Queensland Parliament. The Bill was referred to the Agriculture and Environment Committee for consideration. The Committee invited submissions to assist in the preparation of its report to Parliament by 30 June 2016.

Birds Queensland strongly supported the proposed legislation. The Committee has published on its website the 688 submissions, with the vast majority strongly supporting the proposed legislation. The Birds Queensland submission can be read on the Committee's website at https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/AEC/2016/11-VegetationMangt/submissions/164.pdf or download the PDF file from the Birds Queensland website.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) 2016

A submission was prepared by Birds Queensland for the Federal Joint Standing Committee on Treaties' inquiry into the TPP. The submission made no case for or against the Agreement itself but opposed the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Resolution (ISDS) clauses in the Agreement to the extent that they apply to government decision making for environmental protection. The submission is number 84 on the Committee's website http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Treaties/9_February_2016/Submissions

A copy of the submission can also be read here.

Sandra Dunglison
April 2016

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Queensland Government Planning Bills and the Private Member Planning Bills

Birds Queensland prepared a submission for the State Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee inquiry into six Planning Bills. A second submission on the draft Planning Supporting Instruments was forwarded to the Department of Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning.

On 12 November 2015, the Deputy Premier, Minister for Transport, Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and Minister for Trade, Hon Jackie Trad MP, introduced three Government Planning Bills. The Bills were referred to the committee for examination. On the same day, the Parliament reopened the committee's inquiries into the Private Member's Bills by Mr Tim Nicholls MP.

In its submissions Birds Queensland recommended to the Committee that the Planning Bills introduced by the Private Member be rejected and the Government's planning framework be passed, but only with amendments that are included in the submission.

Birds Queensland's submission is on the Committee's website at https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/IPNRC/2015/PB2015/submissions/069.pdf

A copy of the Birds Queensland submission on the Planning Bills can be read here.

A copy of the Birds Queensland submission on the Planning Supporting Instruments can be read here.

Sandra Dunglison
April 2016

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EPBC Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015

On 18 November the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee's report for the inquiry into the EPBC Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 was presented. The Committee recommended that the Bill be passed. The report is available on the Committee's website at: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Environment_and_Communications/EPBC_Standing_Bill/Report

Sandra Dunglison
November 2015

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Bushland destruction increasing in Queensland, WWF briefing paper 2015

The WWF has published a document on the rapidly increasing bushland destruction in Queensland. Following the Newman government's 2013 amendments to the Vegetation Management Act, estimates of the clearing of remnant vegetation reveal a near doubling from about 52,000 ha in 2012-13 to about 95,000 ha in 2013-14.

The current State government made a pre-election commitment to reverse the previous government's land clearing laws. Immediate steps need to be taken to reduce the 'panic clearing' prior to reinstating the vegetation protection laws in order to protect native animals and threatened species.

More information can be obtained from attached WWF Briefing (pdf file, 4.0MB).

Sandra Dunglison
November 2015

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Submission to the Inquiry into the EPBC Act Amendment (Standing) Bill.

On 20 August 2015 the Senate referred the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015 for inquiry and report by the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. The effect of the proposed amendment to repeal section 487 is to reduce the range of parties that have 'standing' under the EPBC Act. Birds Queensland made a submission to the inquiry strongly opposing the Bill and the removal of the right of the community to legally challenge major developmental projects under the EPBC Act. When the Government fails to adhere to its own legislation to protect Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) as defined in the EPBC Act, then the community must have 'standing' and the right to protect MNES via the judicial system. Read the submission by Birds Queensland. The report by the Senate Committee is due 12 October 2015.

Sandra Dunglison
September 2015

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Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations: submission by Birds Queensland, May 2015

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Environment adopted an inquiry that was referred by the Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP. The Committee was asked to inquire and report into the Register of Environmental Organizations and its effectiveness in supporting Communities to take practical action to improve the environment. The Government believes that only groups doing practical environmental work deserve a taxpayer subsidy and the tax-deductibility of donations to many environmental groups will be scrutinized in the inquiry. Committee media release March 2015.

Birds Queensland addressed four of the seven Terms of Reference in its submission

  • the definition of 'environmental organization' under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, including under Subdivision 30-E;
  • the requirements to be met by an organization to be listed on the Register and maintain its listing;
  • activities undertaken by organizations currently listed on the Register and the extent to which these activities involve on-ground environmental works;
  • reporting requirements for organizations to disclose donations and activities funded by donations.

Members of Birds Queensland have the knowledge to advise, educate and advocate for birds and their habitats and therefore recommended that environmental organisations that are proactive in protecting the environment and in educating others about environmental issues, as well as those with 'on-ground' activities, should all retain their deductible gift recipient status. Full text of submission May 2015.

Sandra Dunglison
June 2015

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Draft Approval Bilateral Agreement between the Queensland and Australian Governments under the EPBC Act 1999: submission by Birds Queensland

The Australian Government is committed to delivering a 'one stop shop' for environmental approvals. This means that Queensland, not the Commonwealth government would approve development and mining proposals that may have potential damaging impacts on matters of national environmental significance. The EPBC Act is the Commonwealth's central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage matters of national environmental significance that include World Heritage sites, the Great Barrier Reef, migratory species, federally listed threatened species, Ramsar wetlands and other environmental matters for which Australia has international obligations (JAMBA, CAMBA and ROKAMBA).

The draft Approval Bilateral Agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and Queensland is at:

http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/b44206bc-d8e5-450b-a05e-4d7c26d8afa1/files/qld-approval-draft-bilateral-agreement.pdf

Birds Queensland made a submission that opposed the draft changes, delivered to the Regulatory Reform Taskforce 13 June 2014. Handing Commonwealth power to the States would likely weaken environmental protection and endanger some of our most sensitive natural areas, threatened species, RAMSAR wetlands and threaten biodiversity protection across Australia. The following downloads give the full text of the submission and the attached reference.

Birds Queensland submission (PDF, 100KB)

Biodiversity, Extinction, and Humanity's Future. (PDF, 68KB)

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Lecture: Rolling Back the Years-Regression in Commonwealth Environmental Laws

In May 2014 the Conservation Council of South Australia arranged a Forum4Nature meeting in Adelaide with the keynote speaker being Adjunct Professor Rob Fowler of the University of South Australia Law School and a specialist in Environmental Law. His speech addressed the intended actions of the Commonwealth Government to move its environmental approval powers for "matters of national environmental significance" as identified in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 to the States and Territories. Prof Fowler explained the Commonwealth Constitutional Powers regarding the environment, the forty years of steady "cooperative federalism" with respect to environmental matters and the recent proposed One-Stop-Shop initiative of the Commonwealth Government with its proposed abdication of any further role related to environmental approvals.  His informative speech titled Rolling Back the Years-Regression in Commonwealth Environmental Laws details the issues of the One-Stop-Shop initiative and the wider agenda behind can be read at: http://www.birdsqueensland.org.au/downloads/Forum4Nature.pdf

Mining Lease Notification and Objection Paper

The Queensland Government released the 'Mining Lease Notification & Objection discussion paper' on 4 March 2014 in an effort to support the growth of the resources sector. This paper proposes to restrict community rights to object to mining applications.

Under the current law, mining companies require both a mining lease (ML) and an environmental authority (EA) to start their operations. The ML gives the company the right to access the land and the minerals, whilst the EA (a separate approval from the government) sets out the operating conditions and environmental restrictions for the project. Currently anyone can object to an application for a ML or an EA. The discussion paper proposes to restrict the rights to object to an EA application to the 'highest risk' applications only, estimated to be 10% of about 100 mining lease applications per year. The objection rights to a ML are proposed to be limited to 'directly affected' landholders.

The submission by Birds Queensland opposes the proposals in the discussion paper and is of the opinion that community organisations should be able to champion the protection of Queensland's natural heritage for ALL Queenslanders. {Full text}

Sandra Dunglison
April 2014

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Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill 2013

The vegetation protection laws that brought an end to the clearing and devastation of Queensland’s endangered regrowth forests, bushland and riverine vegetation are to be changed with proposed amendments to the Vegetation Management Act 1999. On 20 March 2013 the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, the Hon Andrew Cripps introduced the Amendment Bill 2013 to the Queensland Parliament with the government’s policy objective to reduce red tape and regulatory burden on landholders, business and government and to support the four pillar economy. The Bill can be read at: http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/Bills/54PDF/2013/VegeMgmtFramwkAB13.pdf

The Bill was referred to the State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee for consideration, with a closing date of 10 April for submissions by interested stakeholders. The time for public consultation was considered insufficient by concerned conservation organisations to adequately research and prepare a comprehensive submission. The Bill proposes to remove protection from at least 700,000 hectares (7,000 square km) of important ‘regrowth’ forests and bushland. This includes known habitat for the endangered Southern Cassowary and other threatened species such as the Mahogany Glider. The Bill also allows for self-assessment of clearing and weakens compliance and enforcement provisions. The Environmental Defenders Office in their submission described the changes to be the "biggest leap backward in Queensland environmental regulation ever seen".

One hundred and fifty two submissions were received, that of Birds Queensland is number sixty at: http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/committees/SDIIC/inquiries/current-inquiries/10-VegetatationMgmtFramewk

The committee tabled its report to the House on 14 May 2013 recommending that the Amendment Bill be passed. The report can be read at:
http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/SDIIC/2013/10-VegetatationMgmtFramewk/rpt-023-14May2013.pdf

Sandra Dunglison, Conservation Group, 22 May 2013.

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Sandra Dunglison

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Revised November 2015