Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Environmental standards a priority for the Federal Government

Media release
2 November 2012

The Federal Government today released the draft Framework of Standards for Accreditation under the national environment law.

Environment Minister Tony Burke said the draft framework of environmental standards underpins the Federal Government’s approach to reform process and has been released so feedback can be obtained from stakeholders ahead of their finalisation.

“I have released the draft standards so that there is opportunity for people to see the approach the Government is taking as we negotiate with states and territories on streamlining environmental regulation,” he said.

“This is about lifting the States up to the level of environmental protection provided by the Commonwealth, not letting Commonwealth standards drop. We can keep stringent environmental standards while simplifying an overly complex process - and we are.

“Since the Government delivered its response to the Hawke Review last year we have been working to deliver a simpler environmental protection system that has clearer standards and gives faster decisions.

“This will help ensure our nation has a both a resilient environment and a strong economy.

“This is not about rolling back our environmental protections. Not one clause of existing environmental law is altered. This is about removing unnecessarily duplicative and time-consuming processes.

“I want to emphasise that this is about streamlining environmental reviews.  It is not about weakening environmental standards.  The standards we are releasing to date are as stringent as any applied under existing law.

“The Government has been working cooperatively with all states and territories to provide a basis for developing bilateral agreements that deliver a streamlined assessment and approval process based on high environmental standards.

“Environmental standards will provide the basis for the Government’s consideration of whether to accredit state and territory environmental approval processes. Discussions are progressing well and the release of the draft standards is an important step in this process.

“The framework is at the heart of the Government’s commitment to maintaining high environmental standards and providing consistent protection principles and benchmarks that guarantee strong environmental outcomes.”

The framework sets out the principles that underpin the Government’s approach to each bilateral agreement, including that:

  • matters of national environmental significance are protected as required under the EPBC Act
  • there will be high quality assessment of the impacts of proposed actions on matters of national environmental significance
  • authorised actions do not have unacceptable or unsustainable impacts on matters of national environmental significance
  • Australia will comply fully with all its international environmental obligations.