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4.1 - The community does not trust the EPBC Act is delivering for the environment

The EPBC Act is broadly perceived as ineffective at protecting the environment. The lack of clear outcomes (Chapter 1), weak compliance and enforcement (Chapter 9), and ineffective environmental monitoring and evaluation (Chapter 11) drive mistrust.

Limited access to information about decisions and the lack of opportunity to substantively engage in decision-making under the EPBC Act adds to this mistrust. This drives the use of legal review to discover information, rather than its proper purpose to test and improve decision-making.

The number of public interest challenges has been limited. Submissions to the Review have suggested most of these challenges have been on issues that have a high significance to the community.

The EPBC Act is not seen as being able to deliver environmental protection through its ordinary operation, so legal challenge on procedural grounds is sometimes used by the community to slow or attempt to stop development. Third-party enforcement rights become more important in the absence of effective and transparent decision-making.