|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
By the late 1960s considerable public dissatisfaction was evident concerning the government machinery available to deal with environmental affairs. Prior to this pollution control responsibilities were spread among numerous State and local government agencies.
Prior legislation relating to air quality control included:
Clean Air Act 1958 and Regulations 1965 which create offences with respect to the emission of air impurities from chimneys etc and contained provisions of a regulatory nature, were administered by the Department of Health (VA 695)
Health Act 1958 sections 40-44 and section 101 provide a remedy in the form of abatement with respect to all forms of nuisances and was administered by the Department of Health (VA 695)
Summary Offences Act 1966 section 4 made it an offence to burn rubbish in a public place and the Motor Car Act 1958 section 83 made it an offence to emit excessive smoke, noise or smell from motor cars. The Motor car (Air Pollution) Regulations 1967 made provision for motor cars other than motor cycles to be so constructed as to prevent the escape of crank-case gases. The Motor Car (Design Rules) limited the carbon monoxide discharges during idling. All of these acts and regulations were administered by the Victoria Police (VA 724)
Country Fire Authority Act 1958 section 49 provided for the destruction by burning of certain industrial wastes and was administered by the Country Fire Authority (VA 482).
Arimal Spraying Control Act 1966 section 4 provided for the licensing of crop dusters and was administered by the Department of Agriculture (VA 618).
Extractive Industies Act 1966 and Extractive Industries General Operating Regulations 1968 under regulations 2401-2404 inspectors of the Department of Mines (VA 612) were empowered to serve notices where dust or toxic fumes created a health hazard or a nuisance.
Prior legislation relating to water quality control included:
Navigable Waters (Oil Pollution) Act 1960 related only to the discharge of oil into navigable waters. Owner or master of vessal, occupier of place on land or person in charge of apparatus from which oil is discharged may be liable. The Marine Act 1958 section 10 and Harbour Boards Act 1958 made it an offence to throw rubbish into Port Phillip and any other ports. These acts were administered by the Department of Public Works (VA 669).
Water Act 1958 provided for offences to pollute water-courses and reservoirs and to discharge saline matter into water courses and was administered by the Department of State Rivers and Water Supply (VA 723).
Fisheries Act 1968 provided for offences to poison water containing fish and was administered by the Fisheries and Wildlife Section of the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475).
Environment Protection Authority
The Environment Protection Authority was constituted under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and came into being on 1 July 1971 although the bulk of the Act, enabling it to carry out its functions, was not proclaimed until 1 March 1973. The Authority was established to act as the central pollution control agency in Victoria. Pollution control had previously been the responsibility of a number of state and local government agencies.
Section 13 of the Act set out seventeen powers, duties and functions. The first two established the Authority's broad objectives;
to administer the Act and to be responsible for and co-ordinate all activities relating to the discharge of wastes, the prevention and control of pollution and the protection and improvement of the environment. The Authority stated its aim as "to protect and improve the air, land and water environments for the people of Victoria through management of wastes, control of noise and prevention of pollution".
threats to air quality
threats to water quality
The remaining fifteen functions in Section 13 set out specific activities. These include:
the issuing of licenses to control the volume, type, constituents and effects of waste, emissions, deposits and other pollutants.
the specification of standards and criteria for the protection and maintenance of the quality of the environment including the taking of samples and regular testing and monitoring;
investigation to ensure compliance of the Act including the enforcement of conditions of licensed discharges, the detection of unlicensed discharges and the investigation of reports and complaints concerning pollution;
the submission of Environmental Protection Policies to the Governor in
Council. These policies aim to identify an area and segment of the environment which has been subjected to despoliation (eg the waters of Port Phillip Bay), to set out the beneficial uses of that segment and to establish criteria and standards which must be achieved in order to ensure the continuation of those beneficial uses;