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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

27 March 2003

New Guide To Help Raise EPBC Act Awareness


The Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today welcomed the release of a new guide to the Commonwealth's cornerstone of environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The guide, Planting the Seed: Public Participation and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, was produced with Commonwealth Government support by the Environmental Defenders Office and aims to raise community awareness of the Act.

"This guide is an excellent addition to the materials already available on the EPBC Act, which is the most comprehensive and powerful national environment legislation ever enacted in Australia. The guide provides a good general overview of the Act and describes, in an easy-to-read format, how people can be involved and contribute to the Act's operation," Dr Kemp said.

"The EPBC Act has delivered substantially greater protection for matters of national environmental significance - World Heritage properties, Ramsar wetlands of international significance, listed threatened species and ecological communities, listed migratory species, the Commonwealth marine area and nuclear actions, including uranium mining.

"Prior to the EPBC Act commencing operation in July 2000, the Commonwealth often had no means of being involved in many of the nation's most important environmental decisions. The operation of the EPBC Act has resulted in better environmental outcomes in a wide range of significant activities such as major mining developments, offshore seismic surveys, urban development, infrastructure projects and energy production.

"The Act also promotes a cooperative approach to the protection and management of the environment involving governments, the community, landholders and Indigenous people.

"The EDO guide will help the community better understand the kinds of decisions that the Commonwealth Government can make about the environment and what people can do to protect the environment through the mechanisms available in the EPBC Act.

"The EPBC Act is transparent in its operation and provides opportunities for all sectors of the community to participate in the decision making processes to ensure that matters of national environmental significance are protected. The guide helps people understand how they can best undertake this role.

"Partnerships between all levels of Government, NGOs and community groups play an important role in environmental conservation and protection.

"I congratulate the Environmental Defenders Office on producing such a valuable guide which will help the community better understand the Act, thereby building greater community support for the legislation," Dr Kemp said.

The Department contributed $15,000 towards the production of the Guide.

For more information on the booklet or to order a copy please call the EDO on (02) 9262 6989 or visit their web site at www.edo.org.au

Contact:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400 Jo Alston (Environment Australia) 6274 2894

Commonwealth of Australia