The second Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), led by Professor Graeme Samuel AC, was released in January 2021. This review, known as the Samuel Review, found that the EPBC Act required significant reform.
The government has committed to delivering a full response to the Samuel Review by the end of 2022, and to establish a new national Environment Protection Agency.
The government has also committed to reforming the national heritage protection framework through a co-design process with First Nations peoples.
Overview of the Samuel Review
The Samuel Review found that the EPBC Act required significant reform.
The EPBC Act is Australia's main national environmental legislation. It helps us to protect and manage nationally significant animals, plants, habitats and places. We call these things 'protected matters'.
An independent review of the EPBC Act is required every 10 years. Professor Graeme Samuel AC led the second independent review, which was released in January 2021.
The Samuel Review included comprehensive consultation, with over 100 meetings held and over 30,000 public submissions received.
Environmental reform priorities
The response to the Samuel Review, to be released before the end of 2022, will set out the government’s commitments to environmental reform.
Early reform priorities were highlighted by the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP, the Minister for the Environment and Water, in her address to the National Press Club of Australia to release the 2021 State of Environment Report in July 2022.
Early priorities include:
- improving environmental data
- regional planning
- new national environmental standards.
- The Minister also committed to bring forward new legislation in 2023.
National Environment Protection Agency (EPA)
The government has committed to establishing an independent National Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA is a key reform to improve trust and transparency in Australia’s national environmental laws. The response to the Samuel Review will provide detail on the roles and responsibilities of the EPA and outline next steps to establish the EPA.
Further details of the EPA will be informed by consultation.
We are meeting with key stakeholders and partners. We are also considering the feedback received during the review consultation process and through other consultations with the department since the review was published.
This engagement will inform our advice to the minister and government in developing the response to the review. The response will make clear the government’s reform priorities and commitments for change.
We will continue to engage with stakeholders and partners on the design and implementation of the government’s future environment reforms.
Other reform work underway
In 2021, the former Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Traditional Owners signed a historic agreement with the First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance to reform First Nations cultural heritage protections.
Find out more about this partnership to co-design options to reform Indigenous cultural heritage protections.