The EPBC Act should be immediately amended to enable the development and implementation of legally enforceable National Environmental Standards.
- The Act should set out the process for making, implementing and reviewing National Environmental Standards. The Act should include specific provisions about their governance, consultation, monitoring and review.
- The Act should require that activities and decisions made by the Minister under the Act, or those under an accredited arrangement, be consistent with National Environmental Standards.
- The Act should include a specific power for the Minister to exercise discretion to make a decision that is inconsistent with the National Environmental Standards. The use of this power should be a rare exception, demonstrably justified in the public interest and accompanied by a published statement of reasons which includes the environmental implications of the decision.
- National Environmental Standards should be first made in a way that takes account of the current legal settings of the Act. The National Environmental Standards set out in detail in Appendix B should be adopted in full. The remainder of the suite of Standards should be developed without delay to enable the full suite of 9 Standards to be implemented immediately. Standards should be refined within 12 months.