Defending our environment laws

On 13 April 2012 the Council of Australian Governments agreed to major reform of environmental laws across Australia. The reforms are directed at both Federal and State laws, particularly laws that assess new developments. The key reforms that COAG agreed to are:

  • the withdrawal of Federal involvement in the approval of environmentally sensitive developments under federal environmental laws, through delegation to states,
  • the fast-tracking of approval of major developments in each State,
  • removing energy efficiency and climate change schemes in each State, and
  • the removal of other environmental laws seen as ‘unnecessary’ and ‘costly for business’

The proposal was put forward by business groups via COAG’s new Business Advisory Forum. No such forum exists for any other sector of the community. The reforms are directed squarely at reducing what big business sees as ‘unnecessary delays’ and costs for business.

Our involvement in environmental law over many years has shown us that it is imperative that both state and federal governments are responsible for environmental regulation.

We strongly oppose moves to reduce environmental regulation merely to ease pressure on big business and fast-track major development.

The following document outlines what is being proposed by governments, why environmental law is so important and what we think should really be happening with environmental law in Australia.

Read In defence of environmental laws (May 2012)

In November the Commownealth government finally released its Standards document to the public, prescribing what standards the States and Territories will need to meet in order to have their processes accredited for the purpose of giving approvals under the EPBC Act. The following document is ANEDOs analysis of the Commonwealth Standards document.

Read Response to release of the Commonwealth Accreditation Standards (November 2012) 

In response to these threats, environment groups across Australia have come together in an Alliance and launch a campaign – 'Protect the Places you Love' – to mobilise Australians concerned about the watering down of environmental regulation, and to let Australian Governments and business know that we will not stand by while our environmental laws are wound back.

Lawyers, legal academics and legal organisations from around Australia have released an open letter to the Prime Minister to call on her to prevent the weakening of Australia's environment laws.

Read the open letter to the Prime Minister (PDF, 106KB)

Submission to Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications

Read Submission on Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Retaining Federal Approval Powers) Bill 2012