21 December, 2012


As many of you may be aware, my contract with Queensland Urban Utilities has not been renewed.

My last day will be the 31 December 2012.

I commenced my career at Queensland Urban Utilities as an Audit and Compliance Officer, checking on safety and quality of water and sewerage construction projects including sewer main upgrades and water main pipe bursting. It was not long before I was seconded into the Contract Management of the construction of an additional overflow channel for the Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Plant.  

I really enjoyed the opportunity to manage the contracts for upgrades to regional lagoons, in some cases from procurement right through to construction. I also appreciate having the opportunity to be involved in a team working strategically to embed ecological and business sustainability principles into Queensland Urban Utilities’ procurement processes.

In the short term, I will be looking for another opportunity somewhere in the local, Australian Water industry.  I would be grateful, if anyone has some suggestions.

In the longer term, I shall be pursuing opportunities in International Development Assistance for water and sanitation in developing communities.

I will continue to seek support from Queensland Urban Utilities to assist reinventing the toilet and/or to work on local projects to improve access to toilets.

I have really enjoyed working at Queensland Urban Utilities. 

19 December, 2012

Qld’s water future

Media Statements

Minister for Energy and Water Supply
The Honourable Mark McArdle

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Discussion paper launched to guide Queensland’s water future

Water Supply Minister Mark McArdle today launched a discussion paper to guide the development of a 30 Year Water Sector Strategy to ensure affordable, secure, sustainable and high quality water and sewerage services across Queensland.
Mr McArdle said the Queensland Water Sector Discussion Paper, designed to facilitate active discussion and participation in creating a new path for Queensland’s water future in urban, rural, regional and remote communities, is a key element of the Newman Government’s Six Month Action Plan.
“The Queensland Government is committed to lowering the cost of living and it’s vital that we appropriately plan for our future water and sewerage needs, given the cost impact of these services on households, businesses, local governments and community groups,” Mr McArdle said.
“The Discussion Paper focuses on what Queensland’s future water needs may look like and discusses and identifies the opportunities and challenges Queenslanders are likely to face over the next 30 years.
“Our water vision cannot be achieved by government alone, and this discussion paper needs input and innovative ideas and solutions to help realise our water future.
Mr McArdle said it was vitally important that all Queensland water users took the opportunity to contribute to the state’s water vision including householders, local governments, water service providers as well as the agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, construction and the resources sectors.
“All aspects of the water industry will be examined, including how water is supplied and delivered to the myriad of end users, operation of infrastructure and how to improve the integration of water and sewerage management,” he said.
The consultation period for the discussion paper closes on 29 March 2013.
An animated video detailing the challenges faced by Queensland’s water sector has also been released to encourage householders, businesses and industry to participate in the discussion.
Further information is available at http://www.dews.qld.gov.au/policies/water-sector-reform/30-year-water-strategy or on the Water Queensland Facebook page, on Twitter @WaterQld or by scanning the attached QR code.
[ENDS] 18 December 2012

15 December, 2012

Changes to Environmental Regulation in Qld

An Overview of Changes to Environmental Regulation in Qld


In the space of eight months, the Qld Government has reformed Environmental regulation and the machinery of Government.

The newly elected Qld Government adopted the former Government’s Greentape Reduction Act (2012).

As you may recall, the Environmental Protection (Greentape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 was introduced into parliament in October 2011. The Bill lapsed when the Queensland state election was called.

While there is a strong case for reducing duplication and unnecessary paper work, many folks from the conservation and/or environment movement have grave concerns about the compromising on Environmental Protection and fast-tracking development.

The Newman Government's commitment includes the introduction of the Environmental Protection (Greentape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2012 into the 54th parliament on 29 May 2012.  The legislation was adopted by the Newman Government and is intended to streamline environmental regulation to allow development to move through bureaucratic approval processes. The bill was passed on 31 July 2012, but will not take effect until March, 2013.

Other reforms have simply removed environmental protections, clearing the way for increased development of the state.

One of Newman’s first acts as Premier was to push the Commonwealth to cede power to the states for environmental approvals and management.  On 13 April 2012, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) released a communiqué announcing its intention to implement changes to environmental laws across Australia.
The changes are directed at both Federal and State laws with an emphasis on ‘streamlining’ environmental assessment processes. Presently, the Federal Government has to sign off on development in areas designated as having “national environmental significance”.

Supported by some within the private sector, the Qld Premier and Premiers from Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria want the Federal Government to hand over control of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. The Federal Government has since backed away from the changes and will retain oversight powers.

The Qld Premier has lobbied for development in the fragile Great Barrier Reef area, for which there are about 45 development proposals in the pipeline.

Dredging work in the Gladstone area, which has already led to changes in environmental standards, is supported by the Qld State Government.

“We are in the coal business,” the Premier told reporters. “If you want decent hospitals, schools, and police on the beat, we all need to understand that.”

The Qld Government is committed to the “four pillar” economy. The four pillars are tourism, agriculture, resources and construction and LNP policy specifically advocates for a removal of impediments to this economy.

Since March 2012, the Qld Government has:
- Removed the Waste Levy;
- Retracted State Government support from the $1.2 billion Solar Dawn solar research and power plant;
- Eliminated more than 1,400 jobs across government departments dealing with environmental concerns;
- Announced that it would roll back the Wild Rivers legislation;  
- Flagged changes to the enforcement of the Vegetation Management Act;
- Lifted the ban on shooting flying foxes,
- Proposed changes to the management of national parks;
- Announced plans to remove the SEQ urban footprint;
- Prioritised development in the Great Barrier Reef area;

The previous Government had amalgamated a number of Departments into the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).  The current Government has dismantled DERM.

Now, Qld has departments of:
-     Environmental Protection and Heritage, 
-    Resource Management and Mines,
-     Energy and Water Supply,
-     Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
-     National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. and
-     State Development, Infrastructure and Planning.
-     The Office of Climate Change was disbanded in May, 2012.

In a press conference after his election, Newman said the changes would “create a department with a stronger focus on environment” and that he wanted to be able to speed up mining and development approvals.

In November 2012, National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing minister Steven Dickson announced legislative changes to boost tourism in national parks. The Newman’s Government wants Tourism and National parks together.

The Qld State Government has also made redundant 30 inspectors, whose role was to carry out compliance checks on resource and development projects with environmental conditions attached.

The Queensland ombudsman, Phil Clarke, released a report on 26 September 2012 that found streamlined government processes designed to ensure consistent, expert advice when making environmental assessments were no longer working properly.

In August 2012, the temporary state planning policy ‘Planning for Prosperity’ was released. The Qld coastal-protection plan which regulated development was suspended in October 2012 because it “is not sufficiently supportive of the Government’s commitment to grow the four pillars of Qld’s economy”, according to the draft plan that replaces it.

01 December, 2012

My letter from the Office of the Hon Jeff Seeney MP

on the 26 October 2012, I wrote to the Deputy Premier, in response to his media release which stated:

Mr Seeney said the assessment showed that well-managed development could co-exist with a healthy environment. “It illustrates that we can have bulk export ports and they can operate with no threat to the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Seeney said. 
Mr Seeney seems to have completely missed the point.  The greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef are not from the port operations but from accumulative impacts of the continued combustion of fossil fuels.

On  26 November 2012, I received the following response from:

Office of the Hon Jeff Seeney MP
Deputy Premier
Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning

Our ref: MC12/399

23 NOV 2012

Mr Rowan Barber
Street Address
Address QLD XXXX

Dear Mr Barber

Thank you for your email of 26 October 2012 to the Honourable Jeff Seeney MP, Deputy Premier, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, about the voluntary Abbot Point Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA).  The Deputy Premier has asked that I respond on his behalf.

As you are aware, the voluntary Abbot Point CIA has focus on 16 study areas, and is taking a holistic look at the cumulative effects of the future port related expansion proposals at the Port of Abbot Point.

The CIA scope is about port expansion itself.  Emissions associated with the transport of coal to the port are not within the scope of the CIA.  It was a voluntary cooperative exercise between the three proponents of the existing or proposed facilities at Abbot Point.  It was coordinated by the North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation.

I suggest you provide comments to the Abbot Point Working Group through the formal consultation process on this matter.  The following link provides information on making a submission  http://www.abbotpointworkinggroup.com.au/comment.html.

Please ensure your comments are submitted prior to 5pm, Tuesday, 4 December 2012.

If you require any further information, please contact Mr Phillip Kohn, A/Director, State Development Areas, Office of the Coordinator General, Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning, on 3405 6674, who will be pleased to assist.

Yours sincerely

Dimity Elson
Acting Senior Policy Advisor

Office of the Hon Jeff Seeney MP
Deputy Premier

Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning