The Morrison Government will prioritise the development of new national environmental standards, further streamlining of approval processes with State governments and national engagement on indigenous cultural heritage, following the release of an interim report into Australia’s environmental laws.

Professor Graeme Samuel’s interim report established that the existing Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 has become cumbersome and does not serve the interests of the environment or business.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the 20 year old legislation is struggling to meet the changing needs of the environment, agriculture, community planners and business.

“I welcome Professor Graeme Samuel’s interim report, and the changes outlines by the Minister. This is now our chance to ensure protection of our environment while also unlocking job-creating projects to strengthen our economy and improve the livelihoods of every-day Australians. We can do both as part of the Australian Government’s COVID recovery plan,” Mr Pasin said.

The Commonwealth will commit to the following priority areas on the basis of the interim report:

  • Develop Commonwealth led national environmental standards which will underpin new bilateral agreements with State Governments.
  • Commence discussions with willing states to enter agreements for single touch approvals (removing duplication by accrediting states to carry out environmental assessments and approvals on the Commonwealth’s behalf).
  • Commence a national engagement process for modernising the protection of indigenous cultural heritage, commencing with a round table meeting of state indigenous and environment ministers. This will be jointly chaired by Minister Ley and the Minister for indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt.
  • Explore market based solutions for better habitat restoration that will significantly improve environmental outcomes while providing greater certainty for business. The Minister will establish an environmental markets expert advisory group.

The Commonwealth will take steps to strengthen compliance functions and ensure that all bilateral agreements with States and Territories are subject to rigorous assurance monitoring. It will not, however, support additional layers of bureaucracy such as the establishment of an independent regulator.

The report raises a range of other issues and reform directions. Further consultation will be undertaken regarding these.

Link to Interim Report:

Media Contact: Charlotte Edmunds 8531 2466