Victorian bill to update Flora and Fauna Guarantee

The Victorian Government has introduced its Flora and Fauna Guarantee Amendment Bill 2018 which aims to modernise and strengthen the existing Act.

Introducing the Bill, the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D'Ambrosio said the existing legislation has not been comprehensively reviewed for 30 years, and no longer provides an efficient and effective framework for protecting Victorian flora and fauna.

She said the Bill modernises the objectives of the Act to recognise the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and emphasize prevention and restoration.

Measures introduced by the Bill include:

  • Victoria to adopt the national Common Assessment Method for the assessment and listing of threatened species based on international standards.

  • Improved powers under the Act to make conservation orders to protect critical habitat if necessary,

  • increased accountability of government in managing impacts on Victoria's flora and fauna. The existing obligation on public authorities to have regard to the objectives of the Act in delivering their functions has been strengthened. Ministerial Guidelines and Directions will provide clarification and support to relevant government sectors. Agencies will be supported to fulfil their duty through mechanisms such as Public Authority Management Agreements which will provide certainty and access to new permit exemptions.

  • Introduces a graduated enforcement framework, including improved powers for authorised officers and enforceable undertakings, supported by stronger penalties.

  • Clarification that the Act applies to all levels of government, including an administrative office, government department, municipal council, public entity and state owned enterprises.

  • requires the preparation of a Biodiversity Strategy which establishes proposals for achieving the objectives of the Act, targets to measure achievement of the objectives and a framework for monitoring and evaluating implementation.

  • gives a greater role to the Scientific Advisory Committee in critical habitat determinations.

  • interim conservation order, to be named 'habitat conservation order' to have effect beyond the existing two-year limit, consistent with similar powers in New South Wales and Western Australia. The Minister may suspend a licence, permit or other authority issued under any other Act that permits the holder of the licence, permit or authority to act in contravention of a habitat conservation order.

  • strengthens penalties so the Act provides an effective deterrent to breaches and is brought in line with other legislation in Victoria and interstate. The penalty for a number of offences will increase from a maximum of 50 penalty units to 240 penalty units, in line with related legislation such as the Wildlife Act 1975. Higher penalties will apply for body corporates.

More information is here

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