Access to Justice

EDO NSW has produced a number of resources on access to justice

EDO NSW undertakes law reform work on access to justice. You can read our submissions, discussion papers and briefing notes below.

EDO NSW represents individuals and community groups in public interest litigation to protect the environment. Read about our past cases.

Our Fact Sheets on this topic include public participation, access to information, and speaking out in public.

Learn how to Have Your Say.

Merits report coverMerits Review in Planning in NSW
June 2016

This EDO NSW special report responds to community concerns about the loss of their right to appeal approvals of large resource extraction projects. The report demonstrates that merits review is an essential part of a well-functioning planning system, and shows that there are clear benefits to allowing third party merits review for major projects in NSW.

Read more »

submissions

Issues Paper on Consultation and Transparency Requirements for Offshore Petroleum Activities in Commonwealth Waters - EDOs of Australia submission

April 2016 - Download PDF

In our submission we make a range of recommendations on how offshore petroleum regulation can be strengthened to meet the standards required under Australian environmental law, including:

  • Offshore petroleum project proposals and Environment Plans should be required to identify matters of national environmental significance that may be affected by the project.
  • Environment Plans should be required to include information about the proponent’s environmental history, including details of any legal proceedings taken against the proponent.
  • Environment Plans should be required to be placed on public exhibition for a minimum of 30 working days.
  • Standing provisions that reflect those in the EPBC Act should be included in the legislation. This would allow conservation groups and individual ‘third parties’ to seek judicial review of a decision to approve an Environment Plan that does not comply with the Regulations.

ANEDO submission to the Freedoms Inquiry on Traditional Rights and Freedoms—Encroachments by Commonwealth Laws

EDOs of Australia has written submissions responding to two reports produced by the Australian Law Reform Commission as part of the ‘Freedoms Inquiry’.

Submission 1: 27 February 2015 - Download PDF
Our first submission explains why strong environmental laws are necessary, and argues that existing laws do not unduly encroach on private interests.

Submission 2: 21 September 2015 - Download PDF 
Our second submission sets out how the EPBC Act and the Water Act respond to modern environmental challenges, and why they are needed if Australia is to meet its international legal obligations. It also provides clear evidence that these Acts do not unduly infringe private property rights, and in certain instances actually protect private property from the impacts associated with development.

Submission on EPBC Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015

11 September 2015 - Download PDF

EDOs of Australia strongly oppose the EPBC Amendment (Standing) Bill 2015.

In our view, passage of the Bill would:

  • reduce oversight of executive actions that affect the national environment – oversight that has operated successfully since the EPBC Act began; 
  • disadvantage both conservationists and landholders (as landholders would bear an increased burden for protection of the national environment); 
  • diminish public confidence in major environmental decision-making and the rule of law; and 
  • further erode the national response to the independent Hawke Review of the EPBC Act (2009) – which supported existing standing rights for judicial review, and proposed that standing be further expanded in other ways.

As a starting point for both State and Federal laws, EDOs of Australia supports ‘open standing’ for any person to seek judicial review of government decisions and civil enforcement of breaches.

Read our briefing note Who should have standing to protect Matters of National Environmental Significance in Court?, September 2015 - Download PDF

Submission on Re:think Tax Discussion Paper – Chapter 7 – Not-for-Profit Sector

1 June 2015 - Download PDF

Submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations

21 May 2015 - Download PDF

Submission on Inquiry into the Commonwealth’s treaty-making process

27 February 2015 - Download PDF 

ANEDO submission to Federal parliamentary inquiry into environmental regulation

April 2014 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission responding to Productivity Commission's inquiry into access to justice 

November 2013 - Download PDF

Supplementary submission

July 2014 - Download PDF

Ratifying the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits 

20 April 2011 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on the Draft Framework of Standards for Accreditation of Environmental Approvals under the EPBC Act 1999

23 November 2012 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission to the independent review of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth)

7 December 2012 - Download PDF

Submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission on costs in public interest litigation 

6 September 2012 - Download PDF

Fees and Charges under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

17 February 2012 - Download PDF

Fees and Charges under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 - Appendix 1 Survey Response 

17 February 2012 - Download PDF

Review of the Delivery of Legal Assistance Services to the NSW Community

31 October 2011 - Download PDF

Submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission on Consultation Paper 13 (May 2011) - Security for Costs and Associated Costs Orders

2 September 2011 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission to the Administrative Review Council on Judicial Review in Australia – Consultation Paper

1 July 2011 - Download PDF

Submission on NSW Government Discussion Paper: Reform of Judicial Review in NSW

20 April 2011 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on the Product Stewardship Legislation Bill 2011

8 April 2011 - Download PDF

Submission on the Product Stewardship Legislation Consultation Paper

December 2010 - Download PDF

Class action reforms - Draft Civil Procedure Amendment (Supreme Court Representative Proceedings) Bill

5 November 2010 - Download PDF

Submission on corruption risks and the regulation of lobbying in NSW 

25 June 2010 - Download PDF

Submission to the NSW Law Reform Commission on Security for costs and associated costs orders

15 February 2010 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on the Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil System

13 November 2009 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission to the Inquiry into the Access to Justice (Civil Litigation Reforms) Amendment Bill 2009

8 September 2009 - Contact Us

ANEDO Submission to the National Human Rights Consultation

15 June 2009 - Download PDF

Submission to the Department of Premier and Cabinet, FOI Reform – Open Government Information

3 June 2009 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission to the Privacy and FOI Policy Branch, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 

22 May 2009 - Download PDF

Accreditation Scheme for Individuals Involved in Threatened Species and Biodiversity Survey and Assessment - Draft for Comment

7 June 2006 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Inquiry into Access to Justice

4 May 2009 - Download PDF

ANEDO Submission on the review of Australia's Future Tax System 

29 April 2009 - Download PDF

Inquiry into Environmental Impact Reporting in the NSW Public Sector

6 November 2007 - Download PDF

Submission to the NSW Ombudsman on the Freedom of Information Act 1989 

14 November 2008 - Contact Us

Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council - 'human rights and climate change' 

24 October 2008 - Download PDF

Inquiry into Sustainable Procurement

26 February 2009 - Download PDF

Discussion paper on Access to Justice in the Land and Environment Court

18 February 2008 - Download PDF

Financial Reporting by Unlisted Public Companies

06 August 2007 - Download PDF

Submission to Productivity Commission Inquiry into Australia's Consumer Policy Framework

11 May 2007 - Download PDF

Submission on Discussion Paper on Strict and Absolute Liability

9 August 2006 - Download PDF

Court Imposed Fines and their Enforcement: Submission to the NSW Sentencing Council

8 June 2006 - Download PDF

Investigation into the burden of regulation in NSW and improving regulatory efficiency Draft Report

17 August 2006 - Download PDF 

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services Inquiry into Corporate Social Responsibility

28 September 2005 - Download PDF

MCMPR Draft Principles for Engagement with Communities and Stakeholders

March 2005 - Download PDF

Investigation into the burden of regulation in NSW and improving regulatory efficiency

24 February 2006 - Download PDF

Comment on the EFIC Draft Environment Policy 2005

April 2005 - Download PDF

Submission on the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties inquiry

April 2004 - Download PDF

Inquiry into the definition of charities and related organisations

September 2003 - Contact Us

Review of the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) with Aid/Watch

October 2003 - Contact Us

Proposed Corporations Act Amendments

March 2003 - Contact Us

Trade Practices Act Review

June 2002 - Contact Us

briefing notes
discussion papers

Merits Review in Planning in NSW

This report demonstrates that merits review is an essential part of the planning system and it is crucial that it continues to be recognised and facilitated in NSW.

In addition, there are clear benefits to allowing third party merits review in relation to major projects in NSW. These benefits relate to improving the consistency, quality and accountability of decision-making in environmental matters. In particular, merits review has facilitated the development of an environmental jurisprudence, enabled better outcomes through conditions, provides scrutiny of decisions and fosters natural justice and fairness. Better environmental and social outcomes and decisions based on ecologically sustainable development is the result.

Merits review has a long history in NSW, being a key element of planning reforms introduced in 1979 to a politicised and overly-complex system in drastic need for reform. The reforms sought to simplify and improve planning in NSW, as well as to depoliticise and take the heat out of decision-making. Fulsome public participation and the establishment of a specialist court – the Land and Environment Court – were key components in this enterprise.

Merits review for developers and third parties in the Land and Environment Court were, in turn, crucial elements in restoring the integrity and legitimacy of planning and decision-making for environmental matters.

Recent moves to limit third party merits review – particularly for resource projects - deprive the broader public of the benefits of good decision-making in environmental matters and serve to undermine the integrity of the planning system. The consistency, quality and accountability of decision-making by merits review undertaken by the Land and Environment Court contrasts with weaker decision-making, poorer outcomes and the inferior processes in public hearings held by the recently established Planning Assessment Commission.

The flow on result is that communities are disempowered and alienated by both the extinguishment of their merits review rights and the weakening of decision-making in environmental matters which, in turn, undermines the integrity of the NSW planning system.

2016 - Download PDF

Read more at our blog by EDO NSW CEO/Principal Solicitor Sue Higginson, The community’s right to participate: what happened to merits review?, 7 July 2016.

Protection of Human Rights and Environmental Rights in Australia

21 May 2009 - Download PDF