Environmental Protection (Powers and Penalties) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 (TRANSFERRED)


On 13 February 2024, the Legislative Assembly amended Schedule 6 of the Standing Rules and Orders of the Legislative Assembly, establishing the Health, Environment and Agriculture Committe and transferred the Bill to the Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee for detailed consideration

About the bill 

On 13 February 2024, Hon Leanne Linard, Minister for Environment, Great Barrier Reef, Science and Innovation, introduced the Environmental Protection (Powers and Penalties) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2024 into the Queensland Parliament. The Bill was referred to the Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee for detailed consideration.   

View: Explanatory speech 
View: Bill 
View: Explanatory Notes 
View: Statement of compatibility 

The stated objective of the Bill is to ensure the powers and penalties in the Environmental Protection Act 1994 (EP Act) are contemporary and fit for purpose. The Bill amends the EP Act to:

  • prominently include the polluter pays principle, proportionality principle, principle of primacy of prevention and the precautionary principle as the environmental policy principles to be applied to the general administration of the EP Act
  • specify that a failure to comply with the general environmental duty is an offence where the failure is likely to cause serious or material environmental harm
  • replace the phrasing ‘reasonable and practicable’ with ‘reasonably practicable’ under the general environmental duty, and throughout the EP Act, to aid interpretation and improve consistency with other Queensland legislation
  • provide that environmental nuisance (for example, unreasonable interference from release of aerosols, fumes, light, noise, odour, particles or smoke) will no longer be precluded from being material or serious environmental harm
  • introduce a new compliance tool to respond to environmental harm events by replacing environmental protection orders, direction notices and clean-up notices with a new ‘environmental enforcement order’ which combines the existing powers and scope available under the current notices
  • clarify that an environmental enforcement order can be issued to the holder of an environmental authority, regardless of whether the environmental authority authorises, or appears to authorise, the activity causing harm
  • clarify that the administering authority may require a person to conduct or commission an environmental investigation about an activity or event causing harm, regardless of whether the activity is authorised by an environmental authority
  • improve the ‘notice of proposed amendment’ process by allowing the administering authority to, after considering written submissions from the holder of the environmental authority or Progressive Rehabilitation and Closure Plan (PRCP) schedule, make revisions without the need for further submissions or agreement
  • introduce a standalone duty to restore the environment, which requires that if a person permits or causes contamination that results in environmental harm they must, as far as reasonably practicable, restore the environment to the condition it was in before the harm occurred
  • allow for the administering authority to initiate and decide amendments to transitional environmental programs, having regard to any submission by the transitional environmental program holder
  • ensure that that the duty of a person to notify of serious or material environmental harm includes circumstances where the person ‘ought reasonably to have become aware of the event’ giving rise to the harm
  • expand the evidentiary provisions currently limited to criminal proceedings to be available in civil proceedings.

The Bill will also make several administrative amendments, including: 

  • replacing a reference to Aboriginal peoples in the EP Act with more culturally appropriate language
  • removing uses of ‘reasonably’ throughout the EP Act as the requirement to do the action under the provision presumes it be done reasonably
  • clarifying a confidentiality of information provision that was inserted in the EP Act by the Environmental Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2023 and ensure agencies can share information when necessary.
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