International Environment Law

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    Citation: 12 Aust. YBIL 476 1988-1989

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    476 AustralianYearBook of InternationalLawXIII - INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAWProtection of the marine environment - pollution by ships - dumping ofwastes at sea - land-based pollution - international conventions -constitutional arrangementsOn 1March 1989 the Ministerfor Land Transport and Shipping Support, Mr RobertBrown, explained thepurpose ofpart of aBill thatproposed to amend the Protectionof the Sea (Prevention of Pollution from Ships) Act 1983 (HR Deb 1989, Vol 165,pp 191-2), as follows:This Act gives effect to the International Convention for the Protection ofPollution from Ships 1973-78. Annexes III and V of the Convention relatingto pollution by harmful packaged substances and by garbage will come intooperation shortly. The Bill will extend the parts of the Act relating to annexesIII and V to ships normally under State/Northern Territory jurisdiction, untilthe States and Northern Territory have parallel legislation in place. The

    amendments are necessary for Australia to meet its international Conventionobligations and have been agreed by the State/Northern Territory marineMinisters.On 5 May 1989 the Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism andTerritories, SenatorRichardson, said inpartin answerto a question (Sen Deb 1989,Vol 133, pp 1912-3):At the time of the offshore constitutional settlement of 1979, agreement wasreached in relation to ship based pollution, whereby the existing arrangementswould continue so that Commonwealth legislation would apply to ships outsidethe territorial sea and State legislation would apply to all ships within the

    territorial sea.The offshore constitutional settlement also included agreement that theCommonwealth should prepare legislation which would implement the pro-visions of the International Convention in Relation to Intervention on the HighSeas in Cases of Oil Pollution Casualties and the International Convention onCivil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage. In implementing the latter Conven-tion, a saving clause was to be inserted to allow the States to legislate toimplement certain aspects of the Convention if they wished to do so. Withregard to land based marine pollution and marine pollution through dumping,discussions between the Commonwealth and the States were to continue.With regard to the second and third parts of Senator Coulter's question,specifically relating to ship based marine pollution, as a result of furtherconsultation between the Commonwealth and the States, Commonwealthlegislation now applies in the territorial sea but there isa roll-back clause whichallows the States to legislate consistentwith the relevant international Conven-tions. Subsequent to the offshore constitutional settlement, the EnvironmentProtection (SeaDumping) Act 1981 was enacted to protect the environment byregulating the dumping into the sea and the incineration at sea of wastes andother matter and the dumping into the sea of certain other objects and, as thelegislation says, for related purposes.

    HeinOnline -- 12 Aust. YBIL 476 1988-1989

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    InternationalEnvironmentalLaw 477

    The Act includes provisions that where the Minister is satisfied that Stateor Territory law will on and after a particular date make provision for givingeffect to the Convention on the Protection of Marine Pollution by Dumping ofWastes and Other Matter - that is, the London Dumping Convention - theMinistermay disapply the said Act in favour ofcorresponding State or Territorylegislation. Tasmania, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australiahave passed legislation. Tasmania has signed amemorandum of understandingwith the Commonwealth and the ministerial disapplication - I do not like thatword much, nevertheless itis the one I am supposed to use - of the EnvironmentProtection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 with respect to the coastal waters ofTasmania is in effect.With regard to land-based marine pollution, a variety of State legislationis in effect but unfortunately no consistent regime yet exists. I am writing tomy State ministerial colleagues on the Australian Environment Council to putto them that we ought to do more towards a national approach to water qualityissues...Senator Richardson was asked some supplementary questions:Do I correctly understand the Minister to be saying that the term 'dumping atsea' refers not just to dumping from ships, as specified under the LondonDumping Convention, but extends to the dumping at sea from land-basedfacilities? If so, does it apply, for instance, to the New South Wales situationwith the dumping of large amounts ofsewage at sea? Is thatone of he situationsto which he was referring in the latter part of his remarks?

    The Minister answered:I was referring to the question of sewage in Sydney and having an appropriateyardstick against which to measure that. Unfortunately, under the LondonDumping Convention the Commonwealth has not been given power in respectof marine based pollution of the kind to which the honourable senator refers.

    Protection of the marine environment - Torres Strait - cooperation withPapua New GuineaOn 28 February 1989 the Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourismand Territories, Senator Richardson, provided the following written answer in partto a question on notice (HR Deb 1989, Vol 165, p 129):No formal channels of consultation between Australian authorities and thePapua New Guinea Department of Environment and Conservation concerning

    environmental protection of Torres Strait have yet been established. TheTorres Strait Joint Advisory Council meeting in August 1988 noted that aliaison gap existed in relation to the environmental provisions of the Treaty andrecommended that a consultative group be established between Papua NewGuinea and Australia to receive and disseminate technical information and todiscuss policy issues relating to the environmental protection requirements ofthe Treaty. Officials of both countries are working together to establish formalchannels of consultation for environmental protection under the Treaty.

    HeinOnline -- 12 Aust. YBIL 477 1988-1989

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    478 AustralianYear Book of InternationalLawProtection of the marine environment - Ashmore Reef National NatureReserve.For material on action taken by Australia during 1988-89 to protect and preservethe marine environmet of theAshmore Islands, see above under Part VI Law of theSea.Transboundary movement of hazardous waste - Basel Convention -implementing legislationOn 6 September 1989 the Minister forArts, Tourism and Territories, Mr Holding,introduced the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Bill 1989into Parliament (HR Deb 1989, Vol 168, pp 1060-3), and explained the purposeof the Bill in part as follows:The purpose of this Bill is to control the export and import of hazardous wastesin order to protect human health and the environment. The Act will enableAustralia to take part in international measures to control the movement of

    hazardous wastes which also have this objective ...The international body which acted first in this area was the Organisationfor Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 1984 it begandeveloping international agreements to controlhazardous wasteswhen moved,to ensure their satisfactory disposal. However, it became clear that a globalagreement was necessary, and in 1987 the initiative was taken by the UnitedNations Environment Program (UNEP). Inthelight of these developments, theGovernment decided in March 1988to control this trade in order, amongst otherthings, to take part in international control arrangements.On 22 March 1989, at a UNEP conference held in Switzerland, the BaselConvention on the Control ofTransboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastesand their Disposal was unanimously adopted by all governments represented.Australia was active in drawing up the Convention. Australia can become aparty to the Convention once this legislation has been put into effect. Beforebecoming a party the Commonwealth will consult with the States and Terri-tories. Fundamental features oftheBasel Convention include: the requirementthat parties shall prohibit the export of hazardous wastes from their jurisdic-tions to States that do not consent to the import; the requirement that countriestreating and disposing ofwastes do so in an environmentally sound manner; andthe tracking of wastes to acceptable disposal, when moved across borders.In essence the Bill before us provides for the issuing of permits to controlboth the import and export of hazardous wastes to ensure that they are disposedof by an environmentally acceptable method. The legislation has beendesigned to control the movements of wastes as required by the Convention.However, several of he obligations in the Convention, such as the requirementto minimise waste production and the provision of acceptable disposalfacilities, fall within the responsibilities of State and Territory Governments.Therefore the controls introduced by this Bill will be complemented by Stateand Territo