The final report of the independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act released today will help guide reforms to secure a better environment, more jobs and a faster economic recovery.
Timely approvals, greater national cooperation and clearer guidelines will help Australia’s minerals industry create more jobs, boost investment and improve national biodiversity and heritage outcomes.
The report emphasises the need to address duplicative and unnecessarily complex regulation which delays projects and the investment that supports regional communities and local businesses.
Importantly, the report recognises the importance of greater inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander views and knowledge in regulatory processes. The industry supports the recommendations to modernise and coordinate Indigenous cultural heritage protection across Australia.
A focus on clear, effective and outcomes based regulation will provide certainty for businesses, the community and decision makers, achieving the high national environmental and heritage standards Australians expect.
In line with the report’s recommendations, National Cabinet’s commitment to develop ‘single touch’ bilateral assessment and approvals – supported by National Environmental Standards – will provide strong environmental protection and the certainty businesses need to invest more in Australia’s regions. Robust assurance arrangements will provide community confidence the standards are being met.
The review recommends pragmatic reforms to address the unnecessary duplication of state regulation for uranium mining and water management for coal projects.
The report recommends an innovative central fund to coordinate environmental investment including offsets which alongside a national environmental dataset will support habitat restoration and strategic biodiversity outcomes.
Australia’s minerals sector is committed to the protection and restoration of our unique environment and national heritage values.
The industry looks forward to ongoing engagement with Government and other stakeholders as the review recommendations are considered, and reforms to improve national environmental law are progressed.
As Professor Samuel’s report has found, efficient and effective regulation is good for the environment, the minerals industry and Australia’s post-COVID recovery.