National advocacy alert: EPBC Act Review

28 Jan 2021

, Media

UDIA Member Alert from Simon Basheer, UDIA National President

The Commonwealth Government has today released the final report of the Independent Review into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, chaired by Professor Graeme Samuel.

UDIA National was deeply immersed in the review process, both as a select stakeholder to the Independent Review but also via meetings and consultation with the Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister, Ben Morton.

The Government had already committed itself to National Environmental Standards, a single touch approval process and assurance monitoring for bilateral agreements – among other issues.

Given the depth and complexity of reforms proposed by the Review, the Government has said today it will work through the full detail of the recommendations with stakeholders.

UDIA will remain actively involved in voicing industry priorities for the EPBC Act, with a focus on reducing the time, cost and complexity of approvals – as well as ensuring the transition to a new regime is seamless and well-resourced.

As noted above, the Government is still considering the precise legislative and regulatory framework to govern the EPBC Act, but some headline recommendations of the final report include:

  • Creation of new National Environmental Standards with a focus on outcomes for Matters of National Significance;
  • Development of a new and independent Environment Assurance Commission to report on the performance of the Commonwealth, States and Territories and other accredited parties in implementing the Standards;
  • Implementation of a national supply chain of information and data to ensure the system is grounded in better data and science, and more accessible to those who need it;
  • Accreditation of state and territory arrangements to deliver single-touch environmental approvals;
  • Rationalisation of assessment pathways to enable a risk-based approach to assessments proportionate to their level of impact; and
  • Reforms to offsetting arrangements that both help address decline and achieve restoration, as well as encourage more private sector investment in restoration.

The report has also recommended the reforms be broken into three tranches – which can respectively be delivered immediately, within 12 months and within 24 months.

UDIA National will now work to digest the recommendations in full, consult with members and engage in the next round of advocacy to reinforce industry priorities.

A copy of the Final Review report can be found here.

We will keep you informed of our advocacy work with the Government and key stakeholders.

Simon Basheer

UDIA National President