Victorian EPA revises start date for new Protection Act

The decision by the Victorian EPA to adjust the launch of Victoria’s new Environment Protection Act (EP Act) to July 1, 2021 has been met positively by industry leaders.

Originally slated to commence this July, the new Act represents a significant shift in approach towards prevention, as well as a more flexible, risk‐based approach to compliance. Read more

Victoria reviews dangerous goods laws

A comprehensive review of the Victoria’s dangerous goods laws is being undertaken to help stamp out unsafe chemical stockpiling.

The Victorian government has appointed Andrew Palmer, QC, to conduct the review of the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and associated regulations.

According to a government statement the review is the latest step in its ongoing response to chemical stockpiling after two large chemical fires in West Footscray in August 2018 and Campbellfield in April 2019.

Immediately following the 2018 fire, WorkSafe led a blitz on industrial premises to ensure dangerous chemicals were being stored correctly.

Government agency investigations led to the discovery of waste chemicals stockpiled at 13 sites in Melbourne’s north last year.

A WorkSafe-led taskforce has so far removed more than 13 million litres of the stockpiled waste chemicals, clearing four sites in Epping, three in Craigieburn and three in Campbellfield. The final three sites in Campbellfield are currently being cleared.

The minister for workplace safety Jill Hennessy said that the government knows that the unsafe storing, handling or disposal of dangerous chemicals poses a real threat to local communities.

“This review will make sure dangerous goods laws remain effective and keep Victorian’s safe. Mr Palmer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this important review which will safeguard all Victorians,” she said.

Tough penalties

The Labor Government last year introduced tough new penalties of up to 10 years in jail and fines of more than $6.4 million for rogue operators who recklessly manufacture, store, transport, transfer, sell or use dangerous goods in a way that places another person in danger of death.

Meanwhile, WorkSafe has charged Bradbury Industrial Services with 35 breaches of the Dangerous Goods Act in relation to five of the sites in Campbellfield and Craigieburn.

Review timely

Hennessy added that a review of the Act was important to ensure our laws are up to the task of protecting the community from the unacceptable risk that stockpiling of dangerous goods poses and to deal with those who do it.

A final report and recommendations are expected to be delivered to the Government next year, with opportunities for public comment and stakeholder engagement later this year.

WorkSafe has also charged Graham Leslie White, 58, of Harkness with 55 offences over the alleged illegal stockpiling of dangerous goods at four warehouses he occupied in Epping and one in Campbellfield and investigations are continuing.

Queenslanders poised to decide the future of single-use plastics

Queenslanders have until tomorrow, April 15 to consult with the government on a state-wide ban on single use plastic that will initially focus on straws, drink stirrers, cutlery and plates.

The Government said it has been seeking feedback from Queenslanders and businesses on the proposed bans to ensure an understanding of the impact it may have, consider everyone’s needs and develop the best plan for transitioning to a future free from plastic waste.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said single-use plastic was an increasing problem damaging the environment and marine life and Queenslanders were looking for a positive solution.

Comprehensive perspectives

“It’s time to decide the future of single-use plastics in Queensland. Plastic pollution in our environment affects every aspect of our lives – from the water we drink and the food we consume, to the plants, animals and outdoor places we all love and enjoy,” Enoch said.

“We are looking to limit and, where necessary, ban the supply of most single-use plastic products starting with straws, stirrers, plates, cutlery and cups.”

According to Enoch, the government wants to ensure everyone’s perspectives on single-use plastics has been heard. She said that it wanted to guarantee that the needs of people with a disability and the aged care sector are taken into account.

“Our government has already taken steps to reduce plastic with the ban on single-use plastics bags and the introduction of Containers for Change. Those initiatives have seen hundreds of millions of individual plastic products kept from entering the environment, and now we’re looking ahead, she said.

Banning specific products

Enoch explained that the Queensland Government’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan, released in 2019, committed to introducing enabling legislation in 2020, subject to consultation, to ban the supply of specific plastic products. She added that the next step was to consider other forms of single-use items such as coffee cups, heavyweight plastic shopping bags and polystyrene containers.

Queensland Disability Advisory Council chair Sharon Boyce said many within the disability community relied heavily on straws.

“This is a conversation our community welcomes – how those of us with high needs can find a practical solution to plastic straws,” she said.

Queenslanders, stakeholders and the community are encouraged to provide feedback by visiting

Enoch confirmed that all submissions will be considered as the government shapes new legislation that helps move the state towards a zero-waste economy by 2050.