Minister on Notice to Provide Overdue State of Environment Report

The Honourable Minister for Planning Michael Ferguson MP has been urged to direct the Tasmanian Planning Commission to fulfil its statutory requirements by publishing a long-overdue Tasmanian State of the Environment Report, in a letter from the Environmental Defenders Office on behalf of the Australia Institute, Tasmania.

The letter requests that, before August 22 2022, the Minister direct the Tasmanian Planning Commission (TPC) to produce the overdue State of the Environment Report, following a Right to Information request revealed that no material action had been taken by the TPC to prepare the report, despite 3 reviews and a statutory duty to publish such a report every 5 years under the State Policies and Projects Act 1993.

Key points:

  • The law requires the TPC to publish a State of the Environment report once every 5 years, but there has been no report since 2009, with missed deadlines in 2014 and 2019.
  • The Environmental Defender Office, on behalf of the Australia Institute Tasmania, has written to the Minister for Planning, requesting he:
    issue a written direction to the TPC (pursuant to section 7 of the Tasmanian Planning Commission Act 1997 (Tas)) to urgently produce a SoE Report within a specified timeframe.
  • Provide the TPC with the requisite resources to enable it to comply with the direction.
  • The Minister has the power to give the TPC a direction to perform its functions, however, no such action has been taken.
  • The delay in the Minister taking action to address this situation is unreasonable and the TPC’s failure to produce the report is in breach of the State Policies and Projects Act 1993 (Tas).

“We are requesting Minister Ferguson take action and do the right thing by the public by fulfilling legal obligations to protect our environment,” said Eloise Carr, Director the Australia Institute Tasmania.

“Tasmania’s environment is a national treasure and the bedrock of our economy for tourism, agriculture, fishing and recreation. It’s imperative that we have a frank and regular assessment on how to protect it, as required by law.

“Successive Ministers have ignored this issue since 2014. We hope that Minister Ferguson, who has only been in the role since March, will fix the problem.

“The Tasmanian Planning Commission should urgently be given the additional resources required to fulfil its obligations.

“This is about knowing where we stand in terms of our environment and therefore our wellbeing. We’re letting the public know about this development in the interests of transparency. We are optimistic that this request will be respected.”

EDO Managing Lawyer Claire Bookless said:

“The recent national State of the Environment report painted a dire picture of how Australia’s wildlife and ecosystems are coping with a litany of pressures including from climate change.

“But Tasmanians remain in the dark about how our own environment is faring, with the last state of the environment report now more than a decade old.

“This document is critical to our understanding of the issues facing our environment and a key tool that the government and the community can use to protect it.

“It is also a legal requirement that this document be produced. On behalf of the Australia Institute, we are urging the Minister to direct the Tasmanian Planning Commission to fulfil its obligations at the earliest possible opportunity and provide sufficient resources for it to do so.”

Related documents

Letter Re: Tasmania’s State of Environment Report