Law Reform

We actively engage in environmental policy and law reform in NSW and Australia

View our recent submissions

Our policy and law reform work reflects our status as an independent, specialist legal centre. We put forward policy proposals suggesting ways that the law can be improved in NSW and Australia.

Our policy proposals may be in the form of:

  • submissions to Governments or parliamentary inquiries
  • proactive reports and consultancy projects
  • policy advice to Governments as a member of expert panels or stakeholder reference groups.

For national environmental matters, we work with our colleagues in EDOs of Australia and with national groups, to improve the law and protect the environment.

Review our submissions by topic using the right hand menu or use the search feature below to find a document of interest.

You can see current opportunities for law reform at Have Your Say.

Major review of biodiversity laws by NSW Government

The NSW Government has released a new biodiversity conservation law and policy package that's a serious retrograde step as it involves removing many of NSW’s long-held environmental protections. Read more on our feature page.

Recent Submissions

NSW biodiversity and land management laws: Draft regulations and products on public exhibition – EDO NSW submission

June 2017 – Download all submissions combined

This group of submissions makes over 200 recommendations on the regulations and other instruments that are being implemented to support the NSW Government's biodiversity and land clearing law reform package passed in 2016.

EDO NSW raised a number of key concerns that were not addressed in the 2016 changes. While it is not possible to fix the deficiencies in the laws now they have been passed, the current round of consultations presents an opportunity to insert some protections, procedural safeguards and transparency into the subordinate instruments.

You can download all nine submissions combined, including an executive summary, or read each component separately:

Draft Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017

Draft Local Land Services Amendment Regulation 2017

Draft Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Biodiversity Conservation) Regulation 2017

Explanation of Intended Effect for the State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation) 2017

Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code

Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM)

Accreditation Scheme for the Application of the Biodiversity Assessment Method

Serious and irreversible impacts guidance

Offsets payment calculator


 Link to the page for these submissions.

Australia’s Climate Change Policy Review – EDOs of Australia submission

May 2017 – Download PDF

This EDOs of Australia submission outlines 12 main recommendations for the future of Australia’s climate policy, including:

  • Setting long-term and interim reduction targets in climate legislation that will achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals
  • Putting a price on pollution
  • Considering risks and impacts of 2 degrees warming (or higher) when assessing ‘policy impacts’
  • Integrating climate considerations, emissions and targets in National Energy Market laws and decisions
  • Adopt a climate change impact trigger and land-clearing trigger under national environmental law
  • Identifying and reducing subsidies for polluting activities, and support communities in transition
  • Increase government capacity and resourcing for effective climate change responses

Link to this submission’s page.

Inquiry into National Water Reform – EDOs of Australia submission

May 2017 - Download PDF

This EDOs of Australia submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into National Water Reform briefly addresses the following five issues, all of which should be considered National Water Reform Priorities:

  1. Access to information
  2. Compliance, enforcement and markets
  3. Climate change
  4. Protection of environmental water
  5. Extractive industries including mining.

Link to this submission’s page.

Inquiry into the rehabilitation of mining and resources projects as it relates to Commonwealth responsibilities – EDOs of Australia submission

April 2017 - Download PDF

In our submission, we comment on the Australian Government’s responsibilities within the regulatory framework that supports rehabilitation of mining and resources projects. We address directly the issues identified in the inquiry’s terms of reference:

  • the cost of outstanding rehabilitation obligations of currently operating projects;
  • the adequacy of existing regulatory, policy and institutional arrangements to ensure adequate and timely rehabilitation;
  • the adequacy and transparency of financial mechanisms, including assurances, bonds and funds, to ensure that mining and resources projects are rehabilitated without placing a burden on public finances;
  • the effectiveness of current Australian rehabilitation practices in safeguarding human health and repairing and avoiding environmental damage;
  • the effectiveness of existing abandoned mines programs, with regard to repairing environmental damage and safeguarding human health;
  • whether any mining or resources companies have engaged in conduct designed to avoid fulfilling their rehabilitation obligations;
  • international examples of effective rehabilitation policy and practice; and
  • proposals for reform of rehabilitation of mining and resources projects.

Link to this submission's page.

Draft State Environmental Planning Policy (Education Establishments and Child Care Facilities) 2017 – EDO NSW submission

April 2017 – Download PDF

The NSW Government has proposed a new State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to assess and approve childcare and education facilities (schools, universities, TAFE). The new Education SEPP would remove existing development controls from the Infrastructure SEPP.

Our submission addresses issues relating to:

  • Education facilities generally (including concerns about exempt tree-clearing up to 2 hectares and ‘minimal environmental impact’ requirements)
  • Childcare centres
  • Schools (Design Quality Principles and need for independent oversight of Part 5 assessments)
  • Universities
  • TAFE centres.

We have made a separate submission on the 10-year review of the Infrastructure SEPP.

Link to this submission's page.