Environmental Law Reform

  • Labor will establish an Environment Protection Agency to ensure compliance with environmental laws, improve processes for proponents, and centralise data collection and analysis – so there is consistent and reliable information on the state of the environment across the country.

  • Labor will continue to work with stakeholders on environmental law reform, to make the nation’s environment laws work better for everyone by providing a full response to the Samuel Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Why do we need this?

Professor Graeme Samuel AC and his panel, in the second ten-yearly statutory review of the EPBC Act, found that the current EPBC processes were not working effectively for the environment or project proponents.

The Auditor General found that 95 percent of key decisions under the EPBC Act were made later than required by law, with a massive increase in approval decision delays, and that 79 percent of approvals were non-compliant or contained errors.

Rather than consider any meaningful reforms, the Government ignored the review, and has left Australia with no reform, and no improvement in decision-making or environmental protection.

The details

Labor will provide a full response to the Samuel Review, and commit to ongoing consultation on law reform, to make sure our environmental laws work better for environmental protection, while speeding up processes for jobs generating project proposals.

Labor will establish an independent Environment Protection Agency that would have two divisions:

  • A compliance and assurance division; and
  • An environmental data, information and analysis division.

The data division will respond to community, stakeholder and industry views that Australia needs to improve our efforts, as a nation, to collect and store environmental data, to help inform decision-making and policy development, and to reduce transaction costs for environmental assessments.

The division will be a custodian for national environmental information, and will take a leadership role in environmental accounting in Australia, consistent with the Samuel Review which stated:

“The collection of data and information is fragmented and disparate. There is no clear, authoritative source of environmental information that people can rely on. This adds cost for business and government, as they collect and recollect the information they need.” (p24)

Labor will consult widely with industry and other relevant stakeholders to develop an appropriate and efficient sector-contribution funding model for the Environment Protection Agency.