The Environment Protection Authority has ignored a mandatory obligation for mines to provide financial assurances regarding rehabilitation.
At the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, counsel assisting, Peter Rozen said under the EPA Act, the authority could require a person to put up any financial assurance it considered appropriate.
Mr Rozen said the EPA seemed to lack the will or the wherewithal to exercise those powers despite the mandatory obligation in the EPA licences of each mine for a period of 15 years.
“The evidence is that it only uses bonds, despite having that range of assurances available to it,” he said.
EPA executive director regulatory practice and strategy Christopher Webb said the enforcement of the financial assurance provisions was “unacceptable”.
“We maintain a position from 2002 through to 2010 that they were applicable, however we failed to enforce them,” Mr Webb said.