National Environmental Standards are the centrepiece of our reforms.
Standards will improve environmental protections and guide decision-making by setting clear outcomes for regulated activities under the new Act. Standards will be made under the new national environment laws.
The first standards we are developing will cover:
- Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES)
- Restoration Actions and Restoration Contributions
- Regional Planning
- Community Engagement and Consultation
- First Nations Engagement and Participation in Decision-making
- Data and Information.
Development of draft standards
The department is working closely with stakeholders and partners to develop these standards.
In the first half of 2023, we established a working group to inform the development of the standards for Matters of National Environmental Significance, restoration actions and restoration contributions and regional planning. This working group included stakeholders representing a range of perspectives and experts with specific knowledge relevant to the standards under development.
This work also informed the early development of standards for community engagement and consultation, and data and information.
The National Environmental Standard for First Nations engagement and participation in decision-making is being developed through a collaborative process led by the Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC). A working group has been established to progress the draft standard and guide the additional engagement required with First Nations peoples and other stakeholders.
Consultation on the draft standards
We began consultation on the detail of the new national environmental laws in October 2023, two months ahead of schedule.
Consultation on the detail of the new laws (including the draft standards) will occur on a rolling basis over the coming months. This will allow us to incorporate feedback from stakeholders as we go.
This rolling process extends into 2024, to get the legislation ready for introduction into the Australia Parliament. This includes an opportunity for the public to have their say on the reforms via the Have Your Say forum.
Making the standards
New laws will include powers for the Minister to make National Environmental Standards and set out how standards apply to key decisions under the new laws.
A draft set of standards will be available when the legislation is introduced into the Parliament in 2024.
Once the new laws are passed by the Parliament, the Minister will be able to make the first set of standards.