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NSW EPA splits its CEO and chairperson role to improve governance

A decision to split the roles of chairperson and CEO at the NSW EPA has gained support by several organisations in the waste industry who say it will strengthen the EPA’s governance.

The separation of these two positions came into effect on Monday, with support from NSW Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean.

Nature Conservation Council CEO, Kate Smolski, said she welcomed the decision as the EPA had a lot of work to do to restore public confidence.

“In our view, it was an error to appoint the same person as CEO and chairman of the EPA in 2012.

“It was contrary to the principles of good governance, created a clear conflict of interest, and undermined public confidence in the organisation.”

Smolski said the council is approving of Kean’s decision to rectify this mistake by appointing different people to these roles, which was a recommendation of the Upper House Inquiry into the EPA in 2015.

“It is the government’s job to make the EPA work effectively by staffing and funding the organisation adequately and sending a clear signal that it will not tolerate illegal pollution and logging,” she said.

EDO NSW, a community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law, is also in favour of the decision to split the roles.

EDO NSW CEO, David Morris, said the EDO hopes the decision to split the roles will see greater independence and oversight to the operation of the EPA and help them to deliver on their important regulatory responsibilities.

“We look forward to the opportunity to work constructively with the new chair and CEO to build on this important legacy and operationalise ESD in day to day decision-making and setting strategic priorities for the EPA,” Morris said.

Carolyn Walsh is the acting EPA chair as of July 1, and Mark Gifford is believed to remain as acting CEO.