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


This seminar on who to prosecute where a company, executive officers and contractors are involved in an offence provides 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 is 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 is to provide some practical tips for Prosecutors, Investigators and other compliance and enforcement staff in relation to dealing with matters that involve multiple parties. 


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.     

Available for AELERT Members here:


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