Conduct of the Inquiry
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill
2013 (the bill) was introduced and read a first time in the House of
Representatives on 13 March 2013. The bill as introduced was amended by the
House on 14 March on motions moved by the government and by the Member for New
England. Also on 14 March, on the recommendation of the Selection of Bills
Committee, the Senate referred the provisions of the bill to the Environment
and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 14 May 2013.
The Selection of Bills Committee's report stated that the reason for the
referral was to give close scrutiny to this major change to the Environment
Protection and Biosecurity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act).
In accordance with its usual practice, the committee advertised the
inquiry on its website and in The Australian newspaper of 27 March 2013.
The committee also contacted a number of organisations and individuals and
invited them to make submissions. Some 235 submissions were received, as shown
in Appendix 1. The committee also received a number of letters from interested
individuals. The names of those individuals are listed in the appendix. Details
of additional information received during the course of the inquiry are also
contained in the appendix.
The committee held public hearings in Sydney on 17 April 2013 and in
Canberra on 18 April. A list of witnesses who appeared at the hearings may be
found at Appendix 2. A copy of the proof Hansard transcript of the hearing was
posted to the committee's website. The references to the pages of the Hansard
transcript in this report are to the proof Hansard, which may be different from
those in the official transcript.
Purpose of the bill
The purpose of the bill is to amend the EPBC Act to provide for the
establishment of a new matter of national environmental significance in relation
to significant impacts of coal seam gas (CSG) development and large scale coal
mining development on a water resource.
Scope of the inquiry
In this inquiry the committee has concentrated on the provisions of the
bill and has not sought to revisit the many technical and other issues
surrounding the mining of CSG and coal mining.
Structure of the report
In the following chapters of this report the committee:
- provides some background to the bill, a summary of the current
regulatory environment, and summaries of relevant recent Senate Committee
reports (Chapter 2); and
- discusses key issues raised during the inquiry (Chapter 3)
The committee thanks those individuals and organisations who made submissions
in the limited time available, and those who gave oral evidence. Their input
greatly assisted the work of the committee.
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