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Recommendation 3

The EPBC Act should be immediately amended to enable the development and implementation of legally enforceable National Environmental Standards.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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