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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

14 May 2002

Boost for Community Consultation on Environment Laws

The Commonwealth will spend $38.7 million on operating the new environment laws over the next four years, with a special emphasis on consulting with clients and ensuring better communication and faster service.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, announced today that $9.7 million will be provided in 2002-03 for the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).

"The Act represents the most fundamental reform of Commonwealth environmental laws for almost 30 years," Dr Kemp said.

"It provides a framework for Commonwealth decision-making and approval of development proposals of truly national significance as well as a rigorous regime for the conservation of our unique biodiversity.

"The EPBC Act is not only the most powerful tool the Commonwealth has ever had to protect matters of national significance, it also speeds up, streamlines and simplifies the approvals process for industry.

"Having clear, strong and consistent national environmental legislation across the country benefits the entire community and the Australian environment.

"This funding will ensure that Environment Australia is able to fully realise the potential of the Act to provide streamlined and user-friendly processes.

"It will also assist community ownership of environmental management, especially in areas of great environmental importance such as rural and regional Australia."

The EPBC Act has already delivered greater certainty to industry and more timely processes. Less than 30 per cent of referrals require Commonwealth approval and the statutory timeframes ensure speedy decision-making.

The new funding will enable Environment Australia to speed up decision-making even further, and to undertake more focused communications and client assistance, building community support for the Act, particularly among key groups such as farmers.

During 2002-03 better education and training about the Act will include the provision of accurate data and information to regions, especially about future listings of threatened species and communities, to provide greater certainty and ease in complying with its requirements.

Media contact:
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400

Commonwealth of Australia