In 2009 the ten year review of the EPBC Act (the Hawke Review) recommended that a National Environment Commission be set up. The Government decided not to adopt the recommendation but that does not mean it wasn’t a good idea.
*Image by JJ Harrison
In 2009 the ten year review of the EPBC Act (the Hawke Review) recommended that a National Environment Commission be set up. The Government decided not to adopt the recommendation but that does not mean it wasn’t a good idea. The proposal was aimed at, among other things, improving Commonwealth environmental decision-making and improving public confidence in the administration of Australia’s environmental laws. The recent push to remove the Commonwealth from national environmental protection means its more important than ever to have an independent national environmental watchdog to ensure strong and effective protections are in place across Australia to defend Australia’s unique environment.
We have been doing a lot of thinking on what such a Commission could look like and what functions it could have. Some of this is based on successful Commissions in New Zealand and Hungary and elsewhere, and some on functions that we think are critical at this point in our environmental regulatory history. We think the critical things a Commission should achieve are to: provide national leadership; improve environmental decision-making; improve the accountability of the Commonwealth Government under the EPBC Act, and improve the accountability of State Governments operating under Federal environmental law. Ultimately it should bring together environmental management across jurisdictions and sectors to create a unified national approach to environmental protection.
How would it do this? Read our paper and find out!