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

Inquiry into the Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill 2017 – EDOs of Australia submission

July 2017 – Download Submission

This submission responds to the Inquiry into the Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill 2017.

Link to this submission’s page.

Tax Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Reform Opportunities – Discussion Paper – EDOs of Australia submission

July 2017 – Download Submission

This submission outlines:

  • Why charitable status and tax concessions are important to EDOs across Australia;
  • How environmental charity status and tax concessions provide public benefits;
  • Responses to Questions in Treasury’s Tax Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Reform Discussion Paper.

Overall we recommend that the Australian Government and Treasury:

  • Support a strong and efficient charity and DGR sector by maintaining existing taxation concessions for charities and donors;
  • Reject the proposal that all environmental organisations must divert at least 25-50% of tax-deductible donations to ‘environmental remediation works’, and related limitations targeting environmental organisations;
  • Continue to recognise the wide range of activities that contribute to local and systemic environmental outcomes in Australia and internationally – including environmental law and support services, advocacy, research, information, education, overseas capacity-building and local conservation work;
  • Support the ACNC to assist and regulate all charities (and many DGRs); and
  • Take opportunities for minor, well-planned changes to increase administrative efficiency and maintain the high level of public trust in DGRs and charities.

Link to this submission’s page.

Review of Complying Development in Greenfield Areas – EDO NSW submission

July 2017 – Download submission

The NSW government is proposing to increase delivery of new housing by allowing complying development applications to be made for new dwellings in greenfield areas. Our submission identifies five key issues with using streamlined development assessment in greenfield areas:

  • Potential inconsistencies between the policy and legislative objectives
  • Environmentally sensitive areas
  • Concerns with private certification
  • Cumulative impacts and strategic planning
  • Coordination with related SEPP and Code reforms

Link to this submission’s page.

NSW Travelling Stock Reserves Review 2017 - EDO NSW submission

July 2017 - Download submission

The Travelling Stock Reserves (TSR) network is a unique public asset that connects rural economies, biodiversity and cultural heritage. In this submission, we make 13 key recommendations about how the management of NSW’s TSRs can be improved.

We welcome the NSW Government’s aim to improve the evidence base on Travelling Stock Reserves uses and values. In our view, the natural environment should be protected and enhanced for the ‘ecosystem services’ that the landscape provides to our culture, lives and livelihoods, and also for its intrinsic value.

Link to this submission’s page.

Environmental assessments and approvals – EDOs of Australia submission

June 2017 – Download: Submission; Attachment A; Attachment B; Attachment C 

This submission responds to an inquiry by the Australian Senate Select Committee on Red Tape about the effect of environmental assessment and approval ‘red tape’ on the economy and community.

In our submission, we reinforce the public interest nature of environmental assessment, reiterate our arguments against the delegating of Federal Government responsibilities for matters of national environmental significance to states and territories, and refer the Committee to the EDOs of Australia’s 10 best practice principles for environmental and planning laws.

Link to this submission’s page.