EPBC Act Review Report Published

Dear colleagues

On 30 October 2009, Dr Allan Hawke presented his Final Report for the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) – ‘The Australian Environment Act: Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999’ – to the Hon Peter Garrett AM MP, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.

Following our email earlier today, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts presented the Final Report for the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) — The Australian Environment Act: Report of the Independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to Parliament today, as required by section 522A of the Act.

The aim of the Report is to review the performance of the Act and, consistent with the objective of protecting the environment and biological diversity and maintain ecological processes, to recommend reforms that:

    • promote the sustainability of Australia's economic development;
    • reduce and simplify the regulatory burden;
    • ensure activities under the Act represent the most efficient and effective ways of achieving desired environmental outcomes; and
    • are based on an effective federal arrangement.

The Report proposes an integrated reform plan revolving around the following nine core elements:

    • redraft the Act to better reflect the Australian Government’s role, streamline its arrangements and rename it the Australian Environment Act;
    • establish an independent Environment Commission to advise the government on project approvals, strategic assessments, bioregional plans and other statutory decisions;
    • invest in the building blocks of a better regulatory system such as national environmental accounts, skills development, policy guidance, and acquisition of critical spatial information;
    • streamline approvals through earlier engagement in planning processes and provide for more effective use and greater reliance on strategic assessments, bioregional planning and approvals bilateral agreements;
    • set up an Environment Reparation Fund and national ‘biobanking’ scheme;
    • provide for environmental performance audits and inquiries;
    • create a new matter of national environmental significance for ‘ecosystems of national importance’ and introduce an interim greenhouse trigger;
    • improve transparency in decision-making and provide greater access to the courts for public interest litigation; and
    • mandate the development of foresight reports to help government manage emerging environmental threats.

The Report’s 71 recommendations are aimed at implementing this plan. The Australian Government is now giving consideration to its response.

The Report addresses a broad range of issues across the entirety of the EPBC Act’s operation, and is available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/review/index.html. Dr Hawke has also prepared a series of fact sheets outlining key recommendations and reforms. These are also available on the Review’s website.

The Minister’s media release is available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2009/index.html.

Thank you for your interest in the Review.

Kind regards,
EPBC Act Review Secretariat

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