While most people are still digesting the recently released 756-page final report of the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission, law reform responses are already being drafted to address some of its alarming findings.
Parliamentary responses have included private member’s bills ranging from a broad sector-based approach – for example to ban cotton exports – to a specific amendment to the water buy-back limit under the Commonwealth Water Act 2007, to calls from indigenous groups for legislation to establish a federal Royal Commission into the issue.
This blog identifies the key findings made by Commissioner Bret Walker SC and discusses what could be next for law reform in the Murray Darling Basin.Read more
In August 2017, the Wollar Progress Association (WPA) commenced judicial review proceedings in the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales (LEC) to challenge the decision of the then New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) (since replaced by the Independent Planning Commission) to approve the extension of the Wilpinjong open-cut coal mine near Wollar.
The decision1 was the first time the LEC considered whether, and to what extent, cl 14 of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 (NSW) (Mining SEPP) requires a consent authority to consider an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, including downstream emissions, when determining a development application for a mining project, including by having regard to any applicable state or national policies, programs or guidelines concerning greenhouse gas emissions.
On 19 June 2018, the LEC dismissed WPA’s application and upheld the PAC’s decision to approve the extension.The judgment demonstrates that broad aspirational policies regarding greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets do not have any meaningful application to the assessment of mining projects in New South Wales.Read more
The draft Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (draft IFOA) proposes a new rulebook for public forestry in NSW.
By Rachel Walmsley, Director Policy and Law Reform, EDO NSW
13 September 2018Read more
Background: On 25 June 2018, the Water Amendment Bill 2018 (Bill) was passed by the Australian Parliament. The primary purpose of this Bill is to allow an amendment to the Murray Darling Basin Plan that had already been disallowed by the Senate, to be re-tabled and voted on again. The motivation for this unusual Bill was the disallowance of the Northern Basin Amendment by the Australian Senate in February 2018.Read more
In November 2017, the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales (NCC) commenced judicial review proceedings in the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales (LEC) to challenge the decision of the Minister for Primary Industries to make the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code 2017 (Code) under the provisions of the Local Land Services Act 2013 (LLS Act).
This would have been the first case to test the new provisions of the LLS Act, however the matter resolved before it went to hearing. On 9 March 2018, the LEC made orders, by consent, declaring that on and from 24 August 2017 the Code had been invalid and of no effect, and the decision to make the Code be quashed.
The Code was re-made in an identical form later that day. It came into effect on 10 March 2018.Read more
After years of internal government wrangling, there has been a recent frenzy of activity in NSW forestry law and policy. Six things are happening at once.Read more
By Nari Sahukar, Rachel Walmsley and William Field-Papuga
27 March 2018
EDO NSW welcomes the release of the Draft Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill and the opportunity it holds for Aboriginal governance and heritage management. Our key concerns with the Draft Bill relate to ministerial discretion, effective resourcing, major project exemptions and inequitable appeal rights. We continue to consult closely with Aboriginal people on the Draft Bill and reform proposals.
Update: EDO NSW submission on the draft Bill now available here. Comments close 20 April 2018.
Whale caves near Wollongong. Photo Mark Holden.Read more
Parliament votes to protect the Murray Darling Basin Plan
By Dr Emma Carmody
16 February 2018
On 14 February 2018, the Australian Parliament voted to disallow a proposed amendment to the Basin Plan to – amongst other things – take 70 GL (or 70 billion litres) away from the environment in the northern Murray-Darling Basin (MDB). The proposed amendment was based on work undertaken by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) as part of the Northern Basin Review (NBR).
Since our national Parliament exercised its right to reject this amendment, the State of New South Wales has intimated in an official media release that it will walk away from the Basin Plan, claiming that the NBR ‘was always part of the Basin Plan package’ and that ‘[t]his move makes the Basin Plan untenable for NSW.’
We have received a number of inquiries from clients about the meaning of these statements, and their possible implications for the ongoing management of scarce water resources in our largest – and most important – river system. The following analysis is designed to separate fact from fiction.
The NSW Parliament this week passed a law to overrule the Court of Appeal’s decision that the Springvale coal mine was unlawfully approved. But it went one step further and also weakened laws that protect Sydney’s drinking water catchment. This retroactive law denies the public the opportunity to hear extensive expert evidence on the future of the mine and allows industries like mining to continue polluting Sydney’s drinking water into the future.Read more