If you're planning a project, it's a good idea to consult the public early and to understand their concerns before you design it. There are also some mandatory public comment periods for referrals and assessments under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Consultation before a referral
In your referral application, we look for evidence that you consulted with communities that may be affected by your project.
Reach out to people in the area where your project will happen before you refer your action. You might:
- host a community meeting
- do a letterbox drop
- post a notice on public boards
- share project information on your website.
It’s important to also consult with First Nations people and communities.
Public comment on referrals
Once we validate your referral, we'll publish it on our website for 10 business days and invite the public to comment through the EPBC Act Public Portal.
We'll collate the comments and give them to the Environment minister.
The minister will then use these comments to help decide whether or not your action is a controlled action.
Public comment on referral reconsiderations
If the minister accepts a request for reconsideration of a referral decision, we'll take action within 10 business days to:
- publish a notice of the minister's decision to reconsider the referral on the EPBC Act Public Portal
- invite comment, which will be open for 10 business days.
The minister will invite comments from:
- other Australian Government ministers with administrative responsibilities relating to the project
- ministers of states and territories in which the project may affect protected matters
- the public.
Where another person has asked us to reconsider your decision, we'll also invite you to comment on this reconsideration.
These comments can be about:
- the impacts of the action on a protected matter
- why you believe the original decision shouldn't be reconsidered.
The minister will reconsider their decision within 10 business days after the comment period has closed.
Public comment on assessment documentation
For most methods of assessment, you'll need to invite and manage public comment on your assessment documentation. But for an assessment on referral information, we'll invite comment for you.
If you need to invite public comment, we’ll tell you how long to invite it for. This is likely to be a minimum of 20 business days, but could be as little as 10 business days.
If you get comments, send them to us in your final assessment documentation with:
- your responses to the comments
- a document that describes how you've considered the comments on your project, and any changes you will make.
If you don't get any comments, send us a statement of this. The statement then becomes part of your final assessment documentation.
Public comment on management plans
The minister may choose to invite public comment before approving an action management plan.
If your plan is published, it will be open for comment for 11 business days.
Other public comment periods
The minister may also offer extra public comment periods, but this is rare.
Get in touch
For questions about the public comment process, contact:
- Email: email@example.com
- Phone: 1800 423 135 between 9 am and 5 pm Canberra time.