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New legislation with strong implications for business before Parliament

Submitted on Wednesday, 1st August 2018

With only 12 sitting days left until the 2018 State Election, the Victorian Parliament has turned its attention to two important legislative proposals that will have important implications for Victorian business.

The Victorian Government is seeking to put local jobs first with legislation that will mandate minimum local content on major Victorian projects. The government is also proposing new environmental protection laws to strengthen risk management practices for preventing waste and pollution.

The Victorian Chamber has been working closely with the Government and Opposition on both pieces of legislation, to ensure Victorian business interests are front and centre of the proposed changes.

 

Victorian Industry Participation Policy (Local Jobs First) Amendment Bill 201

The Victorian Industry Participation Policy (Local Jobs First) Amendment Bill 2018 will strengthen the use of local businesses, apprentices, trainees and cadets in major Victorian projects.

The Bill proposes to set 90 per cent minimum local content requirements for strategic capital projects, 80 per cent minimum local content for strategic maintenance contracts and establish a Commissioner to monitor compliance and ensure local content targets are being met. The Bill will also allow the Government to mandate the amount of local steel or uniforms and personal protective equipment being used in a project.

While the Victorian Chamber has welcomed the Bill and its focus on increasing business opportunities for involvement in government purchasing, we are working with the Government and Opposition to address the following concerns:

  1. The proposed Commissioner appears to take a punitive rather than facilitative approach to engaging with local business. A facilitative approach will ensure the proposed Commissioner can work effectively with industry and the relevant agencies to address barriers that hamper industry participation.
  2. The Bill does not address the growing regulatory burden placed on businesses to comply with government procurement policies.
  3. The Bill may place unrealistic requirements on businesses to meet targets and needs to provide more support to assist organisations boost their capability and expand their workforces
  4. The scope of the Bill should be expanded to create further opportunities for local business growth, for example, the thresholds for strategic projects should be lowered, particularly in regional Victoria and the large number of procurement frameworks should be more streamlined and simplified.

 

Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018

The Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 will introduce new laws based on an enforceable general environmental duty that, unlike in other states and territories, could lead to criminal and civil penalties for breaches. On the upside, more positive reforms include:

  • A more flexible and balanced permission framework, allowing more proportionate controls to be applied to business operations based on the nature of the risks.
  • Better environmental plans that will support businesses to undertake innovative approaches to environmental protection.
  • A new flexible and risk-based approach to regulating the management of waste and contaminated environments that will reduce costs on consumers, businesses and government.

The Victorian Chamber has urged the Government to assist businesses to comply with the new environmental duty by providing access to scientific advice and expertise. This includes maintaining a readily accessible register that identifies and rates risks to environmental and human health, based on the expert assessment of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

We are also seeking the removal of the proposal to make public the environmental information of licence holders and that contentious new community rights to take direct action through a court for alleged breaches of environment protection laws be reconsidered to ensure frivolous and vexatious actions are minimised.

 

 

 

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