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

Draft Revision of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy: Australia's Strategy for Nature 2018-2030 –  EDOs of Australia submission

March 2018 –  Download submission.

This submission addresses five areas:

  1. Key findings of the five-year review of Strategy implementation
  2. SMART targets (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely)
  3. Key findings of the State of the Environment Report 2016
  4. Draft Revision: Vision, Goals, Objectives, ‘Action inventory’.
  5. An effective biodiversity strategy needs stronger environmental laws.

In addition, our key comments on the Draft Revision include:

  • The focus on biodiversity should be clear throughout the Strategy
  • Links between economy, society and environment must be unequivocal
  • The Draft Revision includes high-level goals and objectives, but no strategies or actions
  • Draft objectives invite the questions: What are governments committing to do and how will success be measured?
  • Supporting principles are too vague and do not recognise the need for improved data and funding
  • Actions inventory is no substitute for clear targets, actions and responsibilities.

Link to this page.

Proposed renewal of NSW Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) - EDO NSW submission

March 2018 - Download this submission

Based on evidence of how the agreements have operated to date, EDO NSW does not support the proposed rollover of RFAs. Accordingly, in this submission on the proposed extension of the RFAs for a further 20 years, EDO NSW reiterates five issues with the performance and review of NSW RFAs to date:

  • RFA reviews have not occurred in the required timeframes
  • Poor community consultation
  • Lack of third party civil enforcement and a culture of non-compliance
  • Limited data on environmental indicators
  • Need for transparent forestry governance and operational requirements.

The submission also raises four related issues that require further consultation:

  • a draft of any RFA renewal
  • review of the NSW Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (outstanding since 2014)
  • review of the National Forest Policy Statement and principles that underpin the RFAs
  • new and robust approaches to climate change in any future RFAs (noting that the 2015 Paris Agreement urges nations to take action to conserve and enhance carbon sinks and reservoirs, including forests).

Ancillary rules for use of mine site ecological rehabilitation as an offset - Consultation draft

EDO NSW has expressed significant concerns about the implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and associated regulations and orders. This latest proposal on the detail of how future mine rehabilitation can be counted as biodiversity offsets continues the process of undermining protection for biodiversity in NSW.

We re-iterate our opposition to the use of mine rehabilitation as an offset for biodiversity destruction. In our opinion, there is no independent, scientifically verified evidence that mine site rehabilitation can replicate the biodiversity values that are lost through mining. Further, there are strong community expectations that any approval to undertake mining activities should be accompanied by requirements to rehabilitate the land to a pre-mining equivalent condition, quite separately to the need to compensate for the loss of biodiversity caused by the mining activity.

March 2018 - Download this PDF

Regional Forests Agreement Review - EDO NSW submission

February 2018 - Download this submission.

In this submission, EDO NSW comments on five overarching issues that apply to the RFA review process, including the development of  A Report of Progress with Implementation of NSW Regional Forest Agreements: Second & Third five-yearly reviews July 2004 – June 2014 (Progress Report).

Our 5 key areas of concern are:

  1. RFA reviews have not occurred in the required timeframes
  2. Poor community consultation
  3. Lack of third party civil enforcement and a culture of non-compliance
  4. Limited data on environmental indicators
  5. Need for transparent forestry governance and operational requirements.

Improving mine rehabilitation in NSW Discussion Paper - EDO NSW submission

February 2018 - Download the submission.

As  a community legal centre specialising in public interest environmental law, EDO NSW has made extensive comment on the management of mining in NSW. Mine rehabilitation should be considered as an integrated component in the overall management regime and our comments are made in the context of our previous recommendations on improving management of mining in NSW.

This submission broadly responds to the proposals outlined in the Discussion Paper but in our view, these proposals are insufficient to ensure appropriate management and regulation of mine rehabilitation. We therefore also provide comment on areas where further work is required.