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SA Well Driller fined $60,000 after presenting false Licence


A South Australian Well Driller has been convicted and fined $60,000 in the Adelaide Magistrates Court after he undertook work using a method of drilling he was not authorised to use and presenting a false Licence to a Drilling Inspector.

In July 2017 the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (the Department) prosecuted Jason Scott Kirk for 13 offences under the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, including 11 charges of undertaking work using a drilling method not endorsed to use and 2 charges of presenting a false Licence to the Department’s Drilling Inspector.

Queries about Mr Kirk’s drilling activities were first raised in December 2015 when anomalies with the paperwork he had submitted to the Department were identified. The matter escalated following communications between the Drilling Inspector and Mr Kirk, where minor inconsistencies with the documents produced by Mr Kirk were identified. The licence documents presented to the Inspector revealed a higher classification and additional endorsements than those held legitimately by the Department.

Further investigation identified 11 wells that Mr Kirk had constructed in and around Adelaide over the preceding six months that he was not licensed to drill.

Although notified of the serious nature of the offending, Mr Kirk elected not to attend Court for sentencing and pleaded guilty in writing. At sentencing, Magistrate White commented on the calculated nature of the offending and the potential disaster that his unauthorised work could have caused.

You can read the 'Remarks on Penalty of Magistrate White' here.


Emergency Operations Cluster Update


In February 2015 AELERT created a new cluster group, the Emergency Operations Cluster (EOC), chaired by Ken Raine from WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. 

This cluster was made up of a group of emergency responders to environmental incidents with the aim to share best practice and learnings across Australasia. The Cluster has grown, it now has members from every state and territory as well as New Zealand. Currently, the group membership is mainly environmental with the majority of its members coming from EPAs.  

Would you like to join the EOC? The EOC would like to see more representation from different areas of expertise, especially from local councils, natural resources and heritage regulators (wildlife and vegetation) and air and water regulators of AELERT.

The group customarily meet by teleconference four times a year to discuss major incidents, training, development, sharing information and ideas. 

Some of our significant learnings have been as follows:

  • NSW provided a consultant paper from asbestos issues following the Blue Mountains fire which was of great assistance to the SA State Recovery Office. 
  • WA has provided training opportunities for staff from other states.
  • NSW developed manager and executive incident management training from cross-jurisdictional learnings.   
  • SA shared its guidelines to the public around CCA posts and animal carcass disposal following natural disasters. 
  • Queensland gave guidance to the group around applying for disaster funding.
  • Victoria shared its learnings from the recent Coolaroo recycling plant fire.
  • NT alerted the group to the practice of companies moving its headquarters off shore and so limiting legal powers and action. 
  • New Zealand has shared learnings about disaster waste management following the Christchurch Earthquake.

On 20th July the EOC  met via teleconference and outlined its work plan for the forthcoming year, the main items are:

  • Interstate Assistance
  • Disaster Waste Management
  • A Glossary of Terms for Incidents ( so we all speak the same language)

Nigel Sargent, from NSW EPA’s Queanbeyan office, has proposed the next meeting will be a face-to-face and has approached the ACT Emergency Services Agency in Canberra.  They are happy to host the meeting and to give the EOC a tour of their Emergency Control Centre.  The Emergency Communications Team will also conduct a briefing around their SPOT App (Single Point Of Truth). It will provide an excellent opportunity for all of the EOC members and to see how a control room is set up would also be beneficial to the SA EPA.
The proposed meeting dates are 24 - 25 October 2017, and as EOC have not met face-to-face since October 2015, the general opinion was the next meeting we should be together to discuss and agree on the above cross state topics.
If you would like to be part of the group and feel you can contribute to its development and goals, please contact the current Chair Kevin Rowley at




We are pleased to announce the 2018 AELERT Conference will be held in Sydney 14-16 February 2018 Aerial Function Centre, UTS, Sydney

The AELERT conference is a unique opportunity for environmental law practitioners, regulators and people working with our regulated communities to come together and share experiences, knowledge and expertise.

Hosted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority, the Conference will showcase the best examples of innovative solutions to real world problems and leading practice in environmental regulation from around the country and internationally.

The AELERT 2018 Conference program, to be held over two and a half days, aims to cater for wildlife, biodiversity and conservation, pollution, marine and water regulators working at all levels of government. As well as the other practice areas that fit within our umbrella (i.e. biosecurity, cultural heritage, climate change). 

The Conference aims to strike a balance between technical and operational topics and broader policy and strategic discussions.  

Considering the modern pressures and context of environmental regulation, this conference will ask the critical question: Is being right enough?

Do we need more than the traditional regulatory tools (i.e. legislation, regulation, incentives and information) to achieve good outcomes for the environment and the community? Do we need to rethink how we use these tools? Are there other things we can be doing to better achieve our objectives?

The conference theme is posed as a question to encourage thought and discussion on the topic throughout the entire program. Are you interested in presenting at the Conference?  We are dedicated to providing regulators with the opportunity to share stories, successes and learnings. Make sure your agency is represented by submitting an abstract. Find out more about the conference streams and the abstract criteria in the event section of this website.

Early bird prices for full registration start from just $999 for non-member agencies, including tickets to the welcome reception and conference dinner. That is a $100 saving if you book and pay before 17 November 2017.

This conference presents a fantastic opportunity for government agencies and other entities associated with environmental regulation to show their support for continuous improvement in the administration and enforcement of environmental legislation.


We also invite you to consider joining AELERT. Membership is free and it offers many benefits such as opportunities to collaborate with other environmental regulators on common issues through forums, on-line communities and access to the resource library.

More information about joining AELERT can be found here.

QLD Event: Who to prosecute where a company, executive officers and contractors are involved in an offence?


Invitation to a FREE seminar  

Date:    Thursday 13 July 2017
Time:    1–2pm (bring your lunch)
Cost:    FREE - limited spaces available
RSVP:   by Monday 10 July 2017
Venue:  Department of Environment and Heritage Protection
Level 3 (Room 3.17), Gondwana Rainforest Room 400 George Street, Brisbane (Only open to staff of AELERT member agencies)


This seminar on who to prosecute where a company, executive officers and contractors are involved in an offence is the next in AELERT's bimonthy seminar series. It aims to provide an overview of some of the general considerations associated with what to look at and what to consider when faced with these particular situations.

There will be a focus on 'Executive officer' provisions and some of the complexity and specific evidence that is required for those particular prosecutions. The purpose of the talk will be to provide some practical tips for Prosecutors, Investigators and other compliance and enforcement staff in relation to dealing with matters that involve multiple parties. 

For further information contact Hayden Woodall at EHP who are hosting the event on (07) 3330 6010.


Joshua Pemberton is a Lawyer/Prosecutor currently working in the Litigation Special Projects team in the Litigation Branch of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Joshua has experience in primarily criminal, environmental and administrative law roles within the Queensland State Government. His main areas of expertise are in environmental law compliance and enforcement, with a focus on government regulatory practices in the conventional and unconventional petroleum and gas sector. He has experience within the Petroleum and Gas branch of EHP, worked for Legal Aid Queensland and the Australian Taxation Office. His current area of practical legal interest and research involves looking at director and/or executive officer liability in the Queensland environmental regulation sphere.     



AELERT PODCAST: Professor Andrew Hopkins presents ‘Improving the effectiveness of regulatory regimes’.


Regulation is one of the most important components in preventing major accidents. 

Major accidents have organisational factors and in this podcast Professor Hopkins recommends how regulators can highlight those causes and challenge companies to do something about them.


Andrew Hopkins is Emeritus Professor in the School of Sociology at The Australian National University. He is a distinguished scholar and an internationally- renowned presenter, author and consultant in the field of industrial safety and accident analysis.

Professor Hopkins has researched major industrial disasters in hazardous industries including investigations into disasters at the Moura and Gretley coal mines as well as the catastrophic BP Gulf of Mexico accident.  He was an expert witness at the Royal Commission into the causes of the fire at Esso’s gas plant at Longford in 1998 and in 2001 and an expert member of a Board of Inquiry into the poisoning of F111 maintenance workers at Amberley Air Force Base.

He has published widely across the field of organisational safety, authoring titles including Disastrous Decisions, Failure to Learn, Lessons from Longford, Lessons from Gretley, and Safety, Culture and Risk. These books have together sold more than 90,000 copies.

His primary research interests are occupational learning, expertise, and decision making. Recent research includes a study of generational change in the gas pipeline industry and its impact on safety practices and professionalism, and the present study of safety incentive schemes in hazardous industries.

Practical guidance for writing and interpreting conditions of approval for environmental regulators in Queensland


Dr Chris McGrath recently spoke to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection about environmental regulators in Queensland, who must write conditions prior to granting an approval and investigators who must interpret conditions after approval is granted, to determine whether a contravention has occurred.

His practical guidance overview covers four main areas:

  • What does an application apply to do and what does approval of it include?
  • Initial acceptance or rejection of an application.
  • Assessing an application and writing conditions.
  • Interpreting conditions after approval is granted to determine whether a contravention has occurred.

He has kindly supplied his summary for all AELERT members to view.



Dr Chris McGrath is a barrister and a Senior Lecturer (Environmental Regulation) at the University of Queensland. He holds a BSc, LLB (Hons), LLM and PhD. He teaches Environmental Litigation at the Australian National University. Before being called to the Bar, he worked as an enforcement officer for the then Queensland Environmental Protection Agency.


SYDNEY: Free seminar Measuring Regulatory Performance


Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) are running a free seminar on measuring regulatory performance.

If defining and measuring regulatory performance were easy, there wouldn’t be so many frameworks crowding the space! Defining our regulatory outcomes when we are only one part of the puzzle, attaching performance measures to the outcomes, ensuring that we prioritise and align our activities so they’ll deliver the desired outcomes and telling our performance story to our authorising environment and the broader community are all complex and contingent tasks. And we rarely have the opportunity to start with a clean slate, so travelling from where we are to where we want to be inevitably brings its own challenges.

ANZSOG’s Evaluation Hub is working with the Commonwealth Department of Environment and Energy to develop a regulatory performance framework, with lessons to be drawn and learned for every regulator.

Please join Dr George Argyrous from UNSW/ANZSOG and Adam Carlon from Environment and Energy for a thought provoking and interactive engagement with measuring regulatory performance.       

DATE:                    Monday 5 June 2017
TIME:                    4.00-5.00pm (coffee and networking from 3.30pm)
VENUE:                Rooms T5 and T6, UNSW City Campus, Level 7, 1 O’Connell Street



Have your say on the future of environmental law


The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) is calling for comment on its recently released recommendations for a new general 'duty of care' and an Environment Future Fund.

APEEL is comprised of experts with experience in environmental law, research, practice and design and aims to set out a vision for environmental laws that ensure Australia has a healthy, functioning and resilient environment to benefit people for generations to come.

The panel of experts on environmental legislation, established in 2014 by an alliance of environment groups, has this month unveiled wide-ranging recommendations for reform of federal and state laws.

They have drafted eight Technical Papers discussing key issues and reform proposals for Australia’s environmental laws.

These eight Technical Papers deal with:

1. The foundations for environmental law.
2. Environmental governance.
3. Terrestrial biodiversity conservation and natural resources management.
4. Marine and coastal issues.
5. Climate law. 6. Energy regulation.
7. The private sector, business law and environmental performance.
8. Democracy and the environment.

These Technical Papers constitute a substantial volume of work and involve complex legal concepts. Together they present fifty-seven specific recommendations contained in an Overview Paper.

The recommendations include the establishment of a Commonwealth Environmental Investment Commission that would identify ways to generate private and public sector contributions to a new Environment Future Fund.

The panel also recommends the introduction of a general duty to restore and rehabilitate harmed environments and another that would require all companies to improve their environmental performance.

The tax system should also be revamped to provide stronger incentives for environmentally responsible practices, it says.

The recommendations are open for comment until June 2, after which APEEL aims to produce a final proposal on directions for reform, by the middle of 2017.  

National regulation of PFAS a step closer


Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) says a national approach to the environmental regulation of per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) is a step closer after the PFAS Summit held in Melbourne this month.  

EPA Executive Director of Knowledge Standards and Assessment, Tim Eaton said the summit demonstrated positive collaboration between Australian environmental regulators to identify a long-term plan for the assessment, containment and remediation of PFAS. 

“Scientists, engineers, managers and policy and regulatory advisors discussed current environmental standards and the assessment and treatment of sites contaminated with PFAS, as well as the safe disposal of PFAS-impacted wastes,” Mr Eaton said.  

“PFAS are a challenge for all environmental regulators and best dealt with together,” he said.  

“The precautionary principle and the values of intergenerational equity were key discussion topics for managing these chemicals into the future.”  

Mr Eaton said the summit resulted in the development of key aspects of a national management plan for the environmental regulation of PFAS.  

EPA coordinated the summit on behalf of the Heads of EPAs Australia and New Zealand (HEPA) and the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy. 

“HEPA will now consider the best way to turn what the summit achieved into a national approach to the environmental regulation of PFAS,” Mr Eaton said.   

A video of the summit’s keynote speeches is available on EPA Victoria’s website.


Source: EPA VIC



SA EVENT: Central Eyre Iron Project Approval - The long and winding (iron) road


Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) South Australian Division invites you to attend an evening with Steve Green, Environmental Manager at Iron Road and Executive Director - Assessments and Approvals at environmental consultancy JBS&G.

With the Iron Road's Central Eyre Iron Project on the verge of obtaining final government approval, Steve will discuss the project's path to approval, and reflect on the importance of early impact assessment in shaping the project and achieving better outcomes. 

Click here to view the event flyer

When: Thursday 20 April 2017

Time: 5:30pm for a 6:00pm start

The Ambar Lounge Ambassadors Hotel Basement
107 King William Street, Adelaide

Cost: $10 - EIANZ members, $30 non-members

Contact: EIANZ Central Office on or 03 8593 4140