3.1 - The EPBC Act covers a wide range of complex policy areas
The original ambition of the EPBC Act for a ‘joined up’, comprehensive environmental framework—one that combined 5 pieces of legislation into one—has not been realised.
The complexity in the EPBC Act is in part driven by underlying policy complexity. The broad policy areas covered by the Act—environmental approvals, Commonwealth reserves, wildlife trade, and threatened species conservation and recovery—are complex in their own right.
Having multiple policy functions in the one Act makes it very challenging to understand how the requirements for these areas operate separately or together. This creates confusion and inconsistency in decisions, and limits the effectiveness of the compliance and enforcement function (see Box 9). The inter-relationships between the different parts of the EPBC Act are often not clear, and there can be ambiguity when different parts of the Act are in operation.