Law Reform - EDO NSW

Law reform

We actively engage in environmental policy and law reform.

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

View our recent submissions.

For national environmental matters, we work with 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.

Current opportunities for comment on law reform can be seen at Have Your Say.

Recent Submissions

Inquiry into koala populations and habitat in New South Wales - EDO NSW submission

August 2019 - Download this submission

EDO NSW has made a submission to the NSW Upper House Inquiry into koala populations and habitat in NSW.

There are significant deficiencies in current NSW laws in relation to the protection of koala populations and habitat. The ongoing concerns of experts and the community have not been addressed by the introduction of the NSW Koala Strategy or the stalled review of the Koala SEPP. Major reforms to biodiversity and land management laws and the renewal of RFAs and IFOAs have weakened environment protections, including for koalas, and there are concerns that current proposals to remap old growth and rewrite PNF Codes will do the same.


The strongest legal protection for koalas under current law would be to reserve designated protected areas. We strongly support proposals from koala experts for additions to the National Park Estate that specifically target koala habitat. We also strongly support incentives for private land conservation, with significant investment going to landholders to manage and protect koala habitat on their properties. Funding management of koala AOBVs would be a critical improvement.

Our recommendations identify a number of overarching areas where urgent law reform is needed, and provide specific recommendations for amendments to key pieces of legislation, regulations and policies.

Until our laws are strengthened to truly limit or prohibit the destruction of koala habitat, koala populations and their habitat will continue to be at risk and koala numbers will continue to decline in NSW, possibly to the point of local extinction.

Link to this page

Murray-Darling Basin Plan Socio-economic Independent Panel Draft Terms of Reference and Assessment Framework - EDO NSW submission

August 2019 - Download this submission

EDO NSW acknowledges that the task of this panel will be difficult because it comes at a time when communities (also under stress from drought) have experienced the impacts of measures designed to reverse the historical over-allocation of water, but are not yet experiencing many of the positive effects the Basin Plan will have.  

We recommend that the Panel amend its draft Terms of Reference and Assessment Framework to:

  1. Ensure that the Panel’s assessment of the impacts of water reform in the Basin includes an analysis of adverse impacts which have been, or will be, avoided through the reforms;
  2. Ensure that the Panel’s assessment of the impacts of water reform in the Basin doesn’t simply consider the impacts of the reforms as a package;
  3. Add a commitment to relying on the best available scientific information;
  4. Consider whether the concept and experience of a ‘just transition’ could be useful to the Basin.

Link to this page

Natural Resources Commission’s draft report on the Water Sharing Plan for the Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2012 - EDO NSW submission.

August 2019 - Download the submission

EDO NSW commends the Commission on its thorough consideration of this water sharing plan and on the detailed recommendations for its improvement. We particularly commend the Commission for its recommendations around improving the rule-based protections for environmental watering and flow management in the plan, to accord with the requirements of the water sharing principles in section 5(3) of the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) and recommendations to improve transparency of the plan-making process.

March 2019 EDO NSW submission to NRC review of Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan >>

Link to this page

Independent Planning Commission’s draft Community Participation Plan - EDO NSW submission

July 2019 - Download this submission

Facilitating public participation in Independent Planning Commission's (IPC) processes is critical given the nature of the matters (including major projects) assessed by the IPC and the limited rights of access to the Courts following some IPC decisions, including those that have been subject to a Public Hearing.

We provide comments on the IPC’s draft Community Participation Plan, by reference to best practice public participation principles and the requirements of section 2.23 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Link to this submission page.

Submission on the Draft NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program Strategy

The Draft Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program Strategy must be viewed against a background which acknowledges that:

  • NSW forests are managed across a range tenures some of which are managed for conservation and ecological services, and others for extractive forestry;
  • there is a history of poor compliance, lack of enforcement and inadequate monitoring of environmental outcomes in tenures managed for extractive forestry; and
  • this history provides a poor baseline for setting and monitoring environmental outcomes in forest management, particularly extractive forestry, moving forward.

Our submission makes a number of recommendations for improving the draft NSW Forest Monitoring and Improvement Program Strategy.

Download the EDO NSW submission >>

Link to this page >>