Our response to the Independent Review of the EPBC Act was released in December 2022.
It sets out the government’s commitment to reform Australia’s environmental laws to better protect, restore and manage our unique environment.
Read our response: Nature Positive Plan: better for the environment, better for business.
Our reform priorities
The Australian Government is reforming our national environmental law – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The Nature Positive Plan delivers on the government’s commitment to strengthen and streamline Australia’s environmental laws in response to the Independent Review of the EPBC Act, undertaken by Professor Graeme Samuel AC (the Samuel Review).
Further information on key reforms are outlined below.
In the 2023-24 Budget, the government committed funds to deliver key initiatives in the Nature Positive Plan. This investment will support the establishment of the new Environment Protection Australia, establishment of Environment Information Australia and legislating the commitments set out in the Nature Positive Plan.
Learn more about the Australian Government’s commitments in the 2023-24 Budget to protecting, repairing and better managing the environment (PDF 594 KB).
National Environmental Standards
National Environmental Standards are the centrepiece of our reforms.
Standards will improve environmental protections and guide decision making. They will set clear, demonstrable outcomes for regulated activities under the new Act.
Learn more about National Environmental Standards.
Environment Protection Australia: the national environment protection agency
The government has committed to establishing an independent national environment protection agency—to be known as Environment Protection Australia (EPA). EPA will restore public trust in our national environmental law. It will be resourced and empowered to ensure compliance with new Act.
EPA will be responsible for:
- issuing permits and licenses
- project assessments, decisions and post-approvals
- compliance and enforcement
- assuring states, territories and other Commonwealth decision makers apply National Environmental Standards under accredited arrangements.
Environment Information Australia: Improving environmental data and information
The Australian Government has established Environment Information Australia (EIA) within the Department. Originally introduced in the Nature Positive Plan as the Data Division, EIA will be the source of trusted national environmental data and information. EIA will build on existing environmental data and information to better support decision making.
The government is preparing new laws to create an independent head of EIA who will:
- provide high quality information about the environment
- oversee State of the Environment reporting
- establish and maintain environmental-economic accounts
- track environmental outcomes.
EIA will advise the government on developing a new national standard for environmental data. It will also be responsible for its implementation.
EIA will underpin the government’s objective of faster and clearer decision making. EIA’s National Environmental Science Program will also help us to understand if investments in environmental protection and restoration are working.
Learn more about our environmental information and data.
For more information about Environment Information Australia, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Regional Planning Initiative is a key government commitment to help restore, protect and manage the environment. Regional planning will enable better and faster decision-making under the EPBC Act.
Learn more about the Regional Planning Initiative.
Environmental offsets reform
The government will reform environmental offset arrangements to ensure they deliver gains for the environment and reduce delays for project developers.
A National Environmental Standard for environmental offsets will be made under law to provide certainty and confidence in its application.
Learn more about National Environmental Standards.
Improving conservation planning arrangements
An improved national conservation planning framework for wildlife and places will be underpinned by National Environmental Standards. It will prioritise on-the-ground action based on the latest science.
Working with First Nations partners
We recognise the importance of First Nations partnerships. First Nations peoples will be given a stronger voice in our environmental protection system, including new standalone First Nations cultural heritage protection laws.
In 2022, the Minister for the Environment extended and expanded our Partnership Agreement with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, to work in a genuine co-design partnership with the Alliance and communities to reform our cultural heritage laws.
Learn more about the partnership agreement with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance.
Public consultation on the details of the draft legislation will occur in the second half of 2023. Everyone will be able to have their say on the proposed new laws that will implement the commitments in the Nature Positive Plan.
The department will use this website to provide further information as work progresses.