Deferment of VIC EP Act commencement a welcome relief
21 April 2020
The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) welcomes the announcement this week by the Victorian government that it will push back the commencement date of EPA Victoria’s new Environment Protection Act (EP Act) to 1 July 2021.
WMRR has been deeply engaged with the regulator in a bid to iron out a number of aspects, including challenges with the current complexity, and had been advocating that further time was required. Originally slated to commence this July, the new Act represents a significant shift in approach towards prevention, as well as a more flexible, risk-based approach to compliance - both of which are welcome, but will take time for industry and government to work through together to get the balance right.
Additionally, with the current challenges being faced by all of Australia, including our essential industry, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry is consumed with the job at hand of keeping our services operating and ensuring the safety of our staff and the community, and we need to remain focused on this task at this time and not further regulatory change.
“This move further cements the fact that the Victorian government listens to the needs of our essential industry and is willing to consider our concerns and recommendations. WMRR appreciates the government’s decision to defer the commencement of the new EP Act by a year, which affords all of us – industry and governments alike – time to work through the sticking points and ensure that the Act meets all its objectives and the industry is given sufficient time to plan for the changes. There is much still to be done but this deferment certainly puts all of us in a much better position to drive success,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.
“Importantly, the EPA is keenly aware that now is not the time to be effecting significant regulatory changes and as we continue to face mounting challenges related to the pandemic, business as usual is unrealistic. WMRR believes that all governments should reconsider the need to progress additional regulations that will place undue financial and operational pressure on operators who are already facing extremely difficult times.
“We would encourage other jurisdictions to urgently pivot towards a post-COVID-19 world for our essential industry, by actioning strategic policies and plans that will build a solid foundation for a strong and sustainable environment, as well as fast tracking the capital funding, planning, and approval of waste and resource recovery and remanufacturing infrastructure. Doing this now, we hope, will enable us to come out of this pandemic with a strong and viable sector, which will positively offer a much-needed boost to local economies, creating local jobs that will be welcomed now and into the future,” Ms Sloan concluded.