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Independent review of environment Act aims to avoid future delays in decision-making

The Federal government has commenced a once in a decade review of Australia’s environmental law, led by Professor Graeme Samuel.

Beginning on October 29, the independent review includes panel members Bruce Martin, Dr Wendy Craik, Dr Erica Smyth and Professor Andrew Macintosh.

The statutory review will ensure that the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) remains fit for purpose and fit for the future within the context of our changing environment.

In a statement, Australia’s Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the one thing all sides of the environmental debate concede is that the complexities of the Act are leading to unnecessary delays in reaching decisions and to an increased focus on process rather than outcomes.

Delays in Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act decisions are estimated to cost the economy about $300 million a year.

“The Act has been a world benchmark in environmental protection, but needs to be adapted to changes in the environment and economy.

“I’ve asked Professor Samuel to look at how we can improve efficiency and make clear and simple decisions that deliver strong, clear and focussed environmental protection,” Ley said.

As a first step to the review, Samuel is expected to release a discussion paper in November and begin initial stakeholder meetings shortly thereafter.

Previously, Samuel was a member of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s Panel to conduct a prudential inquiry into the culture, governance and accountability of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and he was chair of the panel that conducted a capability review of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. He has also just completed a review of the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct.

His work on reviewing the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act aims to ensure this central piece of national environmental law in Australia is kept up-to-date.

The Act requires there be an independent review at least once every 10 years