EPBC Act Review - our submission

Australia needs strong environmental laws for the following reasons:

  • To deliver leadership for real action on the global climate crisis

  • To deliver leadership for real action on the global biodiversity crisis

  • To ensure humanity doesn't exceed any of the other planetary boundaries

  • To properly address Australia’s extinction rate, which is one of the highest in the world

  • To drive the cultural change needed for the largest creation of new jobs and investment in Australia’s history

  • For the health and wellbeing of all species, not just human Australian’s

  • MOST IMPORTANTLY - To demonstrate the true value and importance of Australia’s Natural Capital which underpins all of Australia’s economic, social and ecological activity


For the above reasons strong environmental laws also have the capacity to play a significant role in restarting Australia’s economy after the covid-19 shutdown.

New Laws

The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) researched and developed a Blueprint for the next generation of Australian environmental law. This is a comprehensive work, developed over several years, provides a common sense approach to safeguarding our ecological, social and economic future. They have made 57 recommendations which I believe should be implemented in full as an outcome of the current review.

The key points are:

  • Any changes to the EPBC Act should be under the following principles:


  • Principle of non-regression. That is, there should be no reduction in the level of environmental protection provided by the law.

  • Precautionary Principle (with specific provision also for the engagement of the public concerning the level of acceptable risk and potential harm) and the Prevention Principle.

  • A principle of environmental restoration;

  • A principle of flexible and responsive environmental governance;

  • A principle requiring the achievement of a high level of environment protection; and

  • A principle requiring the application of the best available techniques.


  • The Commonwealth should establish the following statutory bodies:


  • The Commonwealth Environment Commission, modelled on the Reserve Bank of Australia;

  • A Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority;

  • A Commonwealth Environmental Auditor;

  • A Commonwealth Environmental Investment Commission; and

  • An Environment Future Fund, modelled on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.


  • In light of the critical situation with the Australian environment, biodiversity loss, climate change and bushfire disaster, the Commonwealth should implement a wide-ranging, national consultative process for the purpose of building substantial agreement on a new societal goal for Australia to replace the current (and outdated) National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development 1992 (NSESD).

To understand how we approached this, please see our submission.

Submissions closed 17 April 2020

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