Statement on Changes to Commonwealth Powers to Protect Australia’s Environment

“The prognosis for the environment at a national level is highly dependent on how seriously the Australian Government takes its leadership role.” – Australian State of the Environment Committee, 2011

COAG’s April 2012 agreement to hand over Commonwealth environmental approval powers to state governments puts at risk decades of environmental reform, and risks the health of nationally and internationally significant environmental assets which the Commonwealth has an obligation to protect.

There is no justification for handing the Commonwealth’s approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to the states. Instead, this statement proposes an alternative suite of reforms to help deliver COAG’s dual goals to “reduce regulatory burden and duplication for business” and at the same time “deliver better environmental outcomes” for Australia.



Mr Peter Cosier, Dr Richard Davis, Prof Tim Flannery, Dr Ronnie Harding, Prof Lesley Hughes, Prof David Karoly, Prof Hugh Possingham FAA, Mr Robert Purves AM, Dr Denis Saunders AM, Prof Bruce Thom AM and Dr John Williams FTSE


This Statement has been prepared on behalf of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists by Ms Claire Parkes, Senior Policy Analyst.

We also gratefully acknowledge the contributions of: Professor Tim Bonyhady, Director of the Australian Centre for Environmental Law at the Australian National University; Mr Gerard Early, environmental consultant and former Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Environment Department; Mr Andrew Macintosh, Associate Director of the ANU Centre for Climate Law and Policy; Ms Ilona Millar, Environmental Law Expert, Baker & McKenzie; Mr Brett Simpson, Resources and Environmental Law Expert, Sydney; the Honourable Paul Stein AM, former NSW Supreme Court and Land and Environment Court Judge; and Ms Rachel Walmsley, Policy and Law Reform Director, EDO NSW.

This Statement does not necessarily represent the views of these contributors.