Less than two years after the Andrews Labor Government heralded the “the largest recruitment of specialists in the EPA’s history”, Labor will now slash more than 100 jobs from the struggling EPA and junk its ‘specialist’ Waste Inspectorate leaving Victorians vulnerable to more industrial waste fires and toxic waste dumping.
In September 2020, Labor announced more than 70 officers would join its new Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate to reduce waste crime. The new specialists were supposed to include forensic accountants, surveillance officers, intelligence analysts, as well as more protection officers.
The Andrews Labor Government said it would spend a massive $71.4 million on its Waste Inspectorate, which was supposed to work closely with WorkSafe and Victoria Police to “crack down on waste crime”. Now, less than two years after it announced its new waste watchdog, it’s shutting it down.
The Waste Inspectorate was supposed to help bring the EPA into the “modern era” of law enforcement after multiple reviews, including a report by Ernst & Young in May 2020 which found the EPA had engaged in “unacceptable” practices and failed to monitor and track toxic chemicals stored in Victoria. The scathing report found a litany of failures throughout the organisation including “gaps” in governance, “poorly designed” responses to key incidents and “manipulation” of KPIs by field officers.
The EPA now says it’s currently undertaking yet another “review of its operating model” and its “financial sustainability”.
The announced job cuts and abolishing of the Waste Inspectorate is not surprising. The EPA is currently in financial crisis, with its most recent Annual Report detailing that it posted a massive $35.7 million deficit in the 2019/20 financial year.
The Andrews Labor Government is guilty of having no plan on cracking down on illegal toxic waste dumping and dangerous industrial waste fires, leaving Victorian communities at risk.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Bridget Vallence:
“We now know that Daniel Andrews and Labor have no plan to keep Victorians safe from industrial waste fires, waste stockpiling, and illegal dumping of toxic waste by cowboy operators.
“By junking its dedicated Waste Inspectorate, Daniel Andrews and Labor have now effectively given a massive green light to all the waste cowboy operators to continue treating Victoria like a toxic dumping ground.
“Serious questions need to be answered about what has happened to the $71.4 million of taxpayers money that was spent setting up and funding this new Waste Inspectorate.
“Victorians are left wondering, where has all the $71.4 million gone, and who will now crack down on illegal toxic waste dumping and dangerous industrial waste fires?”