CICCC Update—16 June 2011 Meeting

The EPA Compliance and Enforcement Review Recommendations

Adam Beaumont, Program Manager for Compliance and Enforcement, EPA Victoria made an excellent presentation to the Committee on the recent Compliance and Enforcement Review Recommendations.

After external reviews by both the Ombudsman and Auditor General found EPA regulatory approach inadequate, the EPA engaged Stan Kropane, formerly the Director of Legal Services and Investigations at WorkSafe Victoria, to conduct an independent review. The Review involved assessing how EPA educates and supports duty-holders to comply with the law, and how it enforces those that do not. Stan found EPA to be a confused regulator, and made 119 recommendations in his December 2010 report.

The Compliance and Enforcement Policy is to be released at the end of June 2011. All information will be available on the EPA website.

Adam outlined the key findings of the report and reported the endorsement of the recommendations by the EPA Chairman, Cheryl Batagol. Particular areas of interest were:

  • Transforming EPA into a modern regulator
  • Social duty of care and moving beyond licensed sites
  • A risk based and responsive regulatory model, the importance of language and a better approach to targeted enforcement, and consequences.
  • EPA’s approach to regulation
  • Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

In response to questions, Adam advised as follows:

  • Adam visited USA and UK to investigate how other authorities handled Compliance and Enforcement (C&E). The general experience was that C&E typically swung between a light touch (where there was little prosecution and consequently little pressure on recalcitrant facilities to lift their game) and a heavy touch (where no flexibility was apparent, and considerable resources required for compliance). In USA, OSHA had used the heavy approach, and the resultant government response was to cut its budget until it got to a very small size, and was virtually ineffective).
  • EPA’s C&E policy is not sent to the Minister for approval, as EPA is an independent statutory authority. Regulations go to the Minister and Parliament before they become law. In the case of SEPPs, while these are called âo[breve]Policies’, they are in fact regulations. The administration of policies cannot be challenged at VCAT, but the administration of regulations can be taken to VCAT or to court.
  • Out of EPA’s 400 staff, about 100 are Environment Protection Officers.

Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Model Regulations

Further to the reporting of this matter in the March media release, WorkSafe will be running public meetings in October to provide more information about the implementation of the National Work Health and Safety laws (including the regulations). It is anticipated that by then that Safe Work Australia will have made decisions on the final form of the Regulations. States will then be expected to adopt both the Commonwealth Act and the Regulations, without any amendment or addition, so that the rules are common throughout Australia. The date of the meetings to be run in October will be reported in due course by WorkSafe, and will be repeated in the September 2011 CICCC media release.

Next meeting of the CICCC

The next meeting of the CICCC will be held on Thursday 8 September 2011 at the Maribyrnong Town Hall on the corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray at 6.30 pm. Any interested member of the community is welcome to attend the CICCC meetings.

A further meeting for 2011 have been set at the same time and place on Thursday 8 December.