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Final Report of the Independent Review of the EPBC Act Released

On Thursday 28 January, the Final Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) was released. The second 10-yearly statutory review, led by Professor Graeme Samuel AC, examined the operation of the EPBC Act and the extent to which it achieves its objectives. 

Describing the EPBC Act as “complex and cumbersome”, Samuel highlighted its ineffectiveness and lack of modernisation, the unnecessary duplication with State-based regulation, and the resultant additional cost impost to business with no benefit to environmental outcomes. 

Samuel’s Final Report proposes a suite of reforms aimed at contemporising the EPBC Act, streamlining environmental approvals, devolving decision-making, improving stakeholder consultation and community confidence and supporting sustainable development.

You can read more about the details of the Final Report in our information circular.

In response to the Final Report, the Minister for the Environment, Hon Sussan Ley MP, committed to considering Samuel’s recommendations in consultation with stakeholders as the Government’s reform agenda is developed. Minister Ley also committed to progressing the establishment of a ‘single touch’ environmental approvals system and further streamlining reforms, in alignment with National Cabinet’s commitment on 11 December 2019. 

EPBC Amendment (Standards and Assurance) Bill 2021 introduced 

On Thursday 25 February, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standards and Assurance) Bill 2021 was tabled in the House of Representatives. 

The Bill proposes amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) to introduce a head power to set National Environmental Standards and establish an independent Environment Assurance Commissioner following recommendations from the Final Report of the Independent Review of the EPBC Act, publicly released 28 January 2021. 

See the Explanatory Memorandum for further information and context on the Bill and read CME’s information circular here.

EP Amendment Act 2020 Commencement Proclamation 2021 

On 5 February 2021, the Environmental Protection Amendment Act 2020 (EP Amendment Act 2020) Commencement Proclamation 2021 was gazetted. The Act amendments were passed by both houses of the Western Australian Parliament in November 2020 and represent the most significant modernisation of the Act since its introduction in 1986. 

For more information, read CME’s information circular here.