Queensland's environmental regulator asleep on the job

QUEENSLAND'S top environmental regulator is being labelled "asleep" following accusations it is failing to properly do its job.

A comprehensive investigation into the state's Department of Environment by Queensland's Auditor-General found a comatose computer system and staff shortages were "exposing the state to liability and the environment to harm unnecessarily".

The Opposition has previously attacked the government for cutting 500 staff from the department.

Minister Andrew Powell said although there were fewer staff, monitoring and inspections were higher than under Labor.

He sought to blame the former government for leaving it with an outdated system and said problems were being fixed.

Queensland Conservation Council executive director Toby Hutcheon said the LNP Government could no longer blame its predecessor after two years in power.

Mr Hutcheon said the department was the state's most important environmental watchdog and "there is no point in having a watchdog if it's asleep".

The Auditor-General's report revealed the government only learned some mining operations had shut down after it attempted to recoup unpaid fees.

Mr Hutcheon said it was not necessarily the fault of the minister and department but potentially "a capacity issue".

"There has been a lot of concern that the cut backs in resources in the Department of Environment means the department can no longer monitor and enforce (environmental) conditions it sets.

"I think the Environment Minister should now be speaking to the Premier and Treasurer on how he can get more resources to do the job properly."

Mr Powell denied the department needed more funding.

He said with new computer systems being developed, the department would "continue to successfully" protect the environment.



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