Greens Call for DEP Shake-Up

January 12, 2003 - Greens (WA) MLC Robin Chapple called on the Government to re-organise the DEP so it can fulfil its function to protect the environment and public health.

The call comes after the latest bungle by the DEP over the Brookdale toxic monitoring. The Greens (WA) are critical that the DEP failed to identify the risks at Brookdale.

“I would suggest that whilst is a DEP mistake, it is fundamentally the fault of successive governments having reduced funding and provision of staffing to the DEP to allow the department to do its job,' said Mr Chapple.

The Greens (WA) argue that immediate investigation of the cause of the failure to recognise the lead pollution and public health measures should be a priority.

The DEP internal situation is so acute that the DEP regularly accepts research and information from project proponents with little or no critique or independent assessment.

The Greens (WA) want:

  • The Government to increase resources specifically for pollution control/monitoring officers, researchers and project assessment officers.
  • End the practice of the DEP being a waste management operator and self-assessor.
  • The DEP must distance itself from alliances or partnerships with industry to be free of conflict of interest claims. DEP is widely perceived to suffer from ‘industry capture'.
  • Operating philosophy must be environmental protection and public health protection not the current practice of risk management.
  • Enshrine ‘right to know' legislation in the EP Act so public has immediate access to pollution data (raw data), research etc, as it is produced rather than after it is filtered by the department or consultants.
  • Establish a fund (industry and government) from which to fund project assessments by independent organisations approved by all stakeholders.
  • DEP to ensure that enforceable community monitoring (pollution, noise etc) to be part of licence conditions.

These suggestions will go some of the way to ensuring the DEP becomes a well-resourced, transparent and accountable department.

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