The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP

Minister for the Environment

Agreed Statement - Environment Ministers meeting

Agreed Statement
29 April 2014

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Environment ministers from across Australia met today in Canberra to progress key environment issues of national significance.

Following the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) decision in December 2013 to streamline and refocus its Council system, environment ministers discussed which of the matters formerly overseen by the Standing Council on Environment and Water required resolution on a national collaborative basis. Ministers agreed to give priority to reviewing environmental regulation.

National Review of Environmental Regulation

Ministers agreed that the National Review of Environmental Regulation is an important next step in environmental regulation reform, and supported the Review's strategy to build on existing regulation reform approaches currently underway across jurisdictions.

Ministers supported the Review's focus on identifying unworkable, contradictory or incompatible regulation and seeking opportunities to harmonise and simplify regulations.

Jurisdictions have commenced, or will shortly commence, regulatory reviews, which could encompass opportunities for best practice regulation, species and heritage listing processes and simplification of land planning including Commonwealth lands.

Jurisdictions will informally discuss opportunities for reform of environmental regulation within the Commonwealth, states and territories.

Emissions Reduction Fund

Ministers noted the update on the development of the Emissions Reduction Fund, including the invitation to state and territory governments to put forward proposals for emissions reduction projects.

Ministers acknowledged the importance of relevant regulatory agencies and government departments working together to support information sharing on the operation of the Emissions Reduction Fund and existing energy efficiency schemes in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

Clean Air

Ministers recognised that while, by world standards, Australia has very clean air, there are ongoing challenges and that governments, business and the community will need to be active to ensure a clean air future. In this context, Ministers initiated work to identify strategic priorities and approaches as a basis for a National Clean Air Agreement and agreed to consider working towards finalising an agreement by 1 July 2016.

Consistent with this approach Ministers signalled their intention to vary the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure for particles reflecting the latest scientific understanding on health risks arising from particle pollution. The Measure seeks to establish a more stringent reporting standard for particle pollution (PM 2.5 and PM10). An Impact Statement on the proposed variation will be released for public consultation following the completion of statutory processes.

Reflecting the significance of fine particle emissions from 'non-road spark ignition engines' (marine engines and garden equipment) and wood heaters, Ministers requested finalisation, by September 2014, of Decision Regulation Impact Statements on potential emission control options for these sectors.

Packaging Impacts

Ministers acknowledged the extensive consultation and engagement that has occurred over a number of years during the development of the Packaging Impacts Decision Regulation Impact Statement.

Business, non-government organisations, local governments and the community have made a significant contribution to the most rigorous examination of packaging waste and litter options that has been undertaken.

The Decision Regulation Impact Statement was assessed by the Office of Best Practice Regulation as compliant against the COAG best practice regulation guidelines in the week before the meeting. Given the comprehensive nature of the analysis and the importance of this issue, Ministers agreed all jurisdictions need adequate time to fully assess the Decision Regulation Impact Statement, after which the Decision Regulation Impact Statement will be publicly released.

Greg Hunt

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