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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

23 July 2001

$1.7 MILLION TO STREAMLINE AQUACULTURE ASSESSMENTS


Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill announced today the implementation of a 'One-Stop Shop' for the assessment and approval of aquaculture projects adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

"The Federal Government recognises that a strong and ecologically sustainable aquaculture industry can deliver employment and economic wealth to the North Queensland community," Senator Hill said.

"However, aquaculture proposals adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area require careful environmental assessment."

"As a result of deficiencies in Queensland's environment legislation, Commonwealth legislation must operate as a safety net so that the aquaculture industry can continue to grow in a manner that is consistent with the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef."

Senator Hill said the Commonwealth had a responsibility for ensuring aquaculture developed in an environmentally friendly manner under two pieces of relevant Commonwealth legislation - the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (Aquaculture) Regulations 2000 (the GBRMP (Aquaculture) Regulations).

"The new 'One Stop Shop' will mean that the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will handle all applications and referrals for aquaculture projects adjacent to the Reef under both pieces of legislation," Senator Hill said.

"This will ensure assessment of aquaculture proposals by the Commonwealth occurs in a timely and efficient way that promotes public confidence in the environmental performance of the industry."

Senator Hill indicated the assessment and approval process would operate in accordance with the strict timeframes set out in the EPBC Act and administration of the one-stop shop would be supported by $1.7 million over the next four years.

"Key features of the 'One-Stop Shop' process will include a dual application form as well as a single set of administrative guidelines for both the EPBC Act and the GBRMPA regulations," Senator Hill said.

"When an application is made, only one assessment will occur and only one approval is required. The 'One-Stop Shop' initiative eliminates any risk of duplication between the EPBC Act and the GBRMP (Aquaculture) Regulations."

Senator Hill urged aquaculture proponents to discuss their proposals at an early stage with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Formal arrangements for the 'One Stop Shop' - the dual application form and the administrative guidelines - are expected to be in place by the end of July.

July 23, 2001
Contact: Belinda Huppatz (Senator Hill's office) 08 8237 7920 or 0419 258 364

Commonwealth of Australia