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Australia and the precautionary principle: Moving from international principles to domestic and local implementation

Kriwoken, L, Fallon, L and Rothwell, DR 2006 , 'Australia and the precautionary principle: Moving from international principles to domestic and local implementation', in Donald R. Rothwell and David VanderZwaag (eds.), Towards Principled Oceans Governance: Australian and Canadian Approaches and Challenges , Routledge, London and New York, pp. 181-198.

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The precautionary principle has been widely accepted in policy directives and legislation at all levels of government in Australia. It has also been specifically recognized as policy guidance for Australian coastal and ocean planning and management. For example, the Commonwealth's Guiding Principles for Management of Coastal Resources define the precautionary approach as:
1. If there is high risk of serious or irreversible adverse impacts from a use of a resource, thar use should be permitted only if those impacts can be mitigated or there ate overwhelming grounds for proceeding in the national interest.
2. If a use is assessed as having a low risk of causing serious or irreversible adverse impacts, or there is insufficient information with which ro assess fully and with certainty the magnitude and nature of impacts, decisionmaking should proceed in a conservative and cautious manner. The absence of scientific certainty should not be a reason for postponing measures to prevent or mitigate negative im pacts.
Whilst the acceptance of the precautionary principle is widespread, the operational details of precaution, in many cases, remain ro be tested. Implementation
of the precautionary principle therefore remains a significant challenge for all levels of government in Australia, and not just at federal or state/territorial levels, but also for local and municipal governments.
The overall aim of this chapter is ro explore the application of the precautionary
principle in the context of the Australian coastal and ocean environment.
It commences with relevant background to the precautionary principle in Australia through rhe development of ecologically sustainable development, the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment and Australia's
Ocean Policy. Relevant legislative instruments are reviewed and judicial and administration applications of the principle are assessed. Case studies of two coastal and ocean sectors are undertaken and an assessment made of how the precautionary principle has been applied in each instance. Concluding comments are made as to the state of the precautionary principle
in Australia.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Kriwoken, L and Fallon, L and Rothwell, DR
Keywords: precautionary principle; Australia; coastal and ocean environment; policy; legislation
Publisher: Routledge
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