Thursday, 9 February 2017
Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Amendment Bill 2016, Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Levy Bill 2016; Second Reading
The Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Amendment Bill 2016 and Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Levy Bill 2016, before us today, bring the hazardous waste permit scheme in line with the requirements and commitments for cost recovery which were put in place during the term of the previous Labor government. The Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Amendment Bill 2016 amends the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 to enable full cost recovery under the hazardous waste permit scheme; remove the requirement for particulars of certain export applications to be specified in the regulations prior to a decision being made; remove the requirement to specify the place of export in a Basel export permit; remove the $8,000 cap on the prescribed fee amount for permit applications, enabling the indexation of permit fees; provide that certain permit and application information currently required to be published in the Commonwealth gazette will instead be published on the Department of the Environment and Energy's website; and introduce new permit and notification arrangements for the bringing of hazardous waste into Australia. Permits will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account various issues such as Australia's capacity to treat the waste and environmentally adequate management of the waste in importing countries comparatively to Australia.
The Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Levy Bill 2016 imposes a levy on hazardous waste permit applications under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989. The levy is a good cost-recovery system and a great step forward in this area. The movement and management of waste is of the utmost importance to our environment and our health. This means that any movement into, out of or within Australia must be assessed closely and carefully.
Labor support these bills because we believe that our environment should be protected and we recognise the importance of sensible regulation in these areas. Labor have a proud record on environmental protection and, indeed, it is because of Labor that these measures were introduced in the first place. It was the Hawke government that introduced the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 to implement the provisions of our obligations under the Basel convention of March 1989 by regulating the import, export and transit of hazardous waste. The act is important because it requires that any hazardous waste be disposed of in a way that ensures the safety of both the environment and people.
The lifespan of consumer products are becoming shorter and shorter. We must be careful in managing how these products are disposed of. Televisions, phones and computers can leach dangerous chemicals into the soil if they are placed in landfill. This is incredibly toxic for the environment and for our health, which is why these disposables must be managed very carefully. Indeed, computers and televisions were the very first products regulated under the Product Stewardship Act in work led by Senator Don Farrell and Tony Burke in recognition of their toxicity and potential to do damage. This reduces the amount of hazardous waste going into landfill and avoids waste, where possible, with recycling and resource recovery. When you go to your local tip, you will see the special sections for disposing of that type of toxic waste—the direct result of that legislation.
While these issues are not always the most high profile when it comes to environmental protection—these things often happen quietly in this place—that does not mean that the work is not significant or important. I commend these bills, and I am pleased that this important environmental issue is being addressed.