Reforming Australia's environment law

New laws that actually protect nature

We have a once in a generation opportunity to fix Australia's environment law.

Our current nature law is broken and full of holes.

The Albanese government’s draft new law has good potential. But it does not yet adequately address the flaws in the existing system. 

Good laws, properly used, are key to halting the destruction, reversing the decline and bringing nature back.

We have to get this right.

1. Write a submission

Until 15 July 2024, you can have your say on our federal nature law reform including three critical issues: the new EPA, ending extinctions, and climate change. 

2. Sign the petition

Call on the Albanese government to improve Australia's draft new environment laws, fix the flaws and remove the loopholes.

3. Power this work

Your donation will help strengthen and shape new laws – and make sure they're properly applied and enforced.

This is a national crisis.

Why do we need new environment laws?

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 is the central pillar of Australia’s environment law.

Passed in 1999, the EPBC Act was introduced to make sure important issues are assessed for the harms they could cause to our environment. These are called ‘Matters of National Environmental Significance’ in Act, and include things like threatened plants and animals, Commonwealth Marine Areas, World Heritage places, and Ramsar wetlands.

The scale of our environmental challenges looked quite different 25 years ago. Today, the EPBC Act is broken, outdated and full of holes.

As a result, corporations are taking advantage of our weak laws to trash our forests, communities, wildlife and climate. As a consequence, across the continent, our most important and iconic ecosystems are collapsing. Australia has one of the worst extinction records on Earth. We are global deforestation hotspot alongside Borneo and Brazil.

It means we have a once in a generation chance to fix the laws – and make sure they actually protect nature.

Our government has made bold, necessary commitments to turn around the extinction crisis and take action on climate change. Now it's time to turn those promises into law.

If we get this wrong, Australia’s extinction crisis will only get worse, climate harm will remain ignored, and ecosystems across the continent will face collapse.

Overhauling Australia's environment law only happens once in a generation

Our new environment laws need to stop the destruction, reverse the decline – and actually protect our environment.

What will good environmental laws mean?

Flowing rivers teeming with life.

Forests – the lungs of our world – standing tall.

Once-threatened wildlife thriving. Climate harms taken seriously.

Traditional Custodians and local communities working side by side to care for land and water. 

This is what good environment laws make possible. 

Get this right and we'll see:

With good laws working well, right across Australia important habitat for threatened species will no longer be logged, cleared, mined or developed – and nor can remnant, old growth or high conservation value bushland.

Landholders, pastoralists and loggers wanting to bulldoze forests and bushland will need to have their plans rigorously and independently assessed against clear, science-based criteria. No political interference. No loopholes. No special deals or payments for destruction.

No more wildlife will become extinct, thanks to smart recovery plans that identify critical habitat and well-resourced teams that care for and protect them.

No projects will go ahead if they are likely to have an unacceptable impact on a threatened species or the habitat it calls home. And no more impacts will be permitted that reduce the population numbers of species already on the path to extinction.

Ecosystems are bubbles of life – naturally occurring communities of native plants, animals and other organisms that interact in a unique habitat, which is vital for their survival.

Across Australia, all ecosystems will show measurable recovery and improving environmental indicators.

Climate damage will become a thing of the past. All new fossil fuel projects and expansions are rigorously assessed for their total potential climate impact – including scope 3 emissions from fossil fuels burnt outside of Australia – against a clear, science-based criteria.

No creative accounting. No loopholes. No special deals for political donors.

Communities can easily access information and reliable data, have a real say in clear decision-making processes, and seek independent review of the merits of decisions.

First Nations communities are key to decision making with guaranteed free, prior and informed consent. They have legal rights to protect, care for and manage Country and culture.

EJA forest lawyer Danya Jacobs knows the EPBC Act back to front.

She is seriously concerned the Albanese Government’s draft laws do not address the systemic problems in the existing system.

It's crucial for our elected representatives to hear an outpouring of concern from people across Australia.

Our government needs to know – the people are paying close attention, and the detail matters.

What are EJA lawyers' key concerns?

Australia's new laws need to end the death-by-a-thousand-cuts crisis our environment is facing.

While the Albanese government's proposed laws have some good parts, this draft needs work. The draft laws have some significant flaws, gaps and loopholes.

As they stand, they will not fix the systemic problems in the existing legal protection framework.

Instead of ending the destruction and reversing the decline, these draft laws risk making matters worse.

End lawless logging & land clearing

To end deforestation by 2030, native forest logging and broadscale land clearing cannot be above the law.

Protect habitat & reverse the decline

Australia's new laws must actually protect habitat that's critical for the survival of threatened wildlife, and make sure nothing can push threatened plants and animals closer to extinction.

Put climate front & centre

Australia's environment laws must reject projects with unacceptable climate risks, respond to escalating climate impacts and protect ecosystems that absorb carbon.

End political interference

There can be no more unchecked discretion or god-like powers. Instead, all decision making must be based on science and clear rules. No loopholes. No special deals.

No payments for destruction

No-one should be able to buy the right to kill threatened species or bulldoze their habitat.

... and more

These are complex laws and the devil is in the detail. Read more about EJA's biggest concerns and key recommendations in our submission guide.

1. Sign the petition

Call on the Albanese government to improve Australia's draft new environment laws, fix the flaws and remove the loopholes.

2. Write a submission

Until 30 March, you can use our handy toolkit to write an impactful submission on how these new laws need to be stronger.

3. Power this work

Your donation will help strengthen and shape new laws – and make sure they're properly applied and enforced.

The challenges we face are vast. The time to push for large-scale system change is now.

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Join us

The law is a powerful tool to disrupt the status quo and make governments and corporations accountable.

Join us and let's build a radically better world.