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.
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.
Independent review of interactions between the EPBC Act and the agriculture sector - EDOs of Australia submission
June 2018 - Download submission
In summary, there is no evidence that the EPBC Act places an undue regulatory burden on landholders. The data in fact suggests that significant land clearing is actually an under-regulated area of national laws, due to a low number of referrals and the even lower number of actual federal assessments required to date. This submission makes some practical recommendations to help landholders understand how the EPBC Act works and comply with obligations that may only occasionally apply; and for improved mapping, environmental accounts and data.
Humane Society International submission to Senate Inquiry into proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement
June 2018 - Download submission
This submission concerns the Environment chapter of the TPP and details a suite of recommendations to implement the chapter into Australian law - this comes from EDO NSW advice to Humane Society International: Implementation of Chapter 20 of Transpacific Partnership (TPP) in national environmental laws.
Ultimately, HSI urges the Australian Government to introduce the enforceable obligations contained in Chapter 20 into domestic law irrespective of whether the TPP is ratified, as these provisions stand to strengthen Australia’s environmental policy.
Submission to Legislative Council Inquiry into the Forestry Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (NSW)
30 May 2018: Download this submission.
This submission proposes amendments to the Government Bill introduced to Parliament in order to better regulate forestry operations, both on private land (under the Private Native Forestry Codes and the Local Land Services Act 2013) and public land (under the Forestry Act 2012 and Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs)).
Our recommendations highlight the need for rigorous environmental standards for Ecologically Sustainable Forest Management, a public register of Private Native Forestry approvals, longer consultation periods on draft Codes and IFOAs, and reinstating community rights to take public forestry breaches to Court.
The Committee’s final report, under a new rapid bill review system, was published on 6 June (here).
Note this Bill is related to but separate from the draft Coastal IFOA.
EDOs of Australia (EDOA) has made a submission to the House of Representatives Inquiry into the management and use of Commonwealth environmental water.
21 May 2018 - Download this submission.
This submission addresses the Inquiry's four terms of reference and reiterates recommendations for improved management of environmental water.
We have considerable concerns regarding the current management of environmental water. A key rationale of the Basin Plan was to restore the Murray-Darling Basin to health. Recovering water for the environment is absolutely essential as a healthy system underpins healthy regional communities and economies. Despite this imperative, the benefits of the water recovered for the environment to date have been undermined by insufficient protection of environmental flows. This relates to our overarching concern regarding the failure on the part of the Commonwealth and certain Basin States to actively ensure we have a scientifically rigorous, risk-based approach to the management of the MDB’s variable and scarce water resources, underpinned by strong laws.
In addition to the non-compliance and lacklustre enforcement of unlawful extractions (both of which have recently received considerable media coverage), we are concerned about the current lawful mismanagement of Basin water resources, which is both serious and in our view systemic.
EDOs of Australia (EDOA) has made a submission to the Murray Darling Basin Plan: Five Year Assessment.
17 April 2018 - Download the submission
The Darling River at Wilcannia. Photo: Ruby Davies
Based on our experience, we have considerable concerns regarding the current management of water in the Basin and concerns regarding whether the Basin Plan will be implemented in full and on time. Our overarching concern relates to the failure on the part of the Commonwealth and certain Basin States to actively ensure we have a scientifically rigorous, risk-based approach to the management of the MDB’s variable and scarce water resources, underpinned by strong laws. In addition to identifying progress of the many elements of Basin Plan implementation against set timeframes, a key issue for this review should be to determine whether desired outcomes are actually going to be delivered.