Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) Technical Papers for “The Future of Australian Environmental Laws”

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The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) released a series of Technical Papers in May 2017 that outlined key elements of proposed new Commonwealth environmental laws with the aim of ensuring a healthy, functioning and resilient environment for generations to come. Given the need to address systematically, effectively and creatively Australia's ecological challenges, APEEL considered the need for more effective environmental laws.
We strongly supported the urgent need for legislative reforms to provide greater protection for biodiversity and address ongoing declines in the condition and extent of native vegetation and biodiversity that have been reported in successive National State of the Environment Reports over the past two decades. Our submission focussed on on two of the technical papers prepared by APEEL: "Terrestrial biodiversity conservation and natural resource management" and "Marine and Coastal issues".

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Innamincka Regional Reserve Draft Management Plan

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A management plan for the Innamincka Regional Reserve was being developed by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), in conjunction with the Yandruwandha Yawarrawarrka Parks Advisory Committee, to set out objectives and strategies for the ongoing protection and conservation of Innamincka Regional Reserve. Our comments on the draft management plan included emphasizing the importance of the natural values of the Regional Reserve and calling on DEWNR to develop a plan for the wise use of the Coongie Lakes Ramsar Wetland, which is surrounded by the Innamincka Regional Reserve within the Coongie Lakes National Park.

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Review of the NRM plan

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The State Natural Resources Management Plan 2012-2017 "Our Place Our Future" (State NRM Plan) was adopted in June 2012. Under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, the Minister must review the State NRM Plan at least once every five years. The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources sought feedback on whether the State Natural Resources Management Plan 2012 – 2017 "Our Place Our Future" should be amended to better achieve the goals and objects of the Natural Resources Management Act 2004.
Our comments emphasized the need for the State NRM Plan to address the following issues of particular importance to sustainable management of natural resources:
• Assessment of the state and condition of the natural resources of the state
• Identify existing and future risks to the natural resources of the state
• A framework for monitoring and evaluating the state and condition of natural resources across the state
• Identify goals, set priorities and identify strategies to manage the natural resources of the state

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Mining Act Review March 2017

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On 27 September 2016 the Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources announced the Leading Practice Mining Acts Review of the Mines and Works Inspection Act 1920, the Mining Act 1971 and the Opal Mining Act 1995. We believe that this review presents an opportunity to address deficiencies in the Act and improve the regulation of mining activity in South Australia. Our comments on the associated Mining Act 1971 and associated Regulations Discussion Paper highlighted a number of improvements that could be made the Act, including the need for native vegetation to be properly protected from clearance associated with mining or exploration activity.

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Independent review of the 'water trigger' legislation

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An independent review into the EPBC Act 'Water Trigger' was undertaken in 2015 to assess whether the water trigger legislation has been effective in protecting water resources from the impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) and large coal mining (LCM) developments. Our submission to this review acknowledged the water trigger legislation has established an effective framework for protection of water resources from the impacts of CSG and LCM projects but noted there are still significant gaps in research and knowledge to ensure the long-term protection and ecologically sustainable use of these valuable assets.

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