Oceania Section Opposes Amendment to Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC)
Amendment to repeal Section 487 of EPBC would block ability of groups to challenge environmental laws on behalf of affected communities
The Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee of the Parliament of Australia recently recommended the repeal of Section 487 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. This amendment would prevent individuals and community groups from seeking judicial review of decisions under the EPBC Act.
The inquiry attracted 292 formal submissions, with most opposed to the repeal of Section 487. In addition, 21,117 letters were sent to the Committee by members of the Australian public outlining their concern over the proposed amendment.
The SCB Oceania Section strongly opposes the repeal of Section 487. In a letter to the Committee Secretary, the Oceania Section argued that all Australians are affected by impacts to Matters of National Environmental Significance and public participation is already extremely limited in national environmental matters. Not providing this opportunity may increase project uncertainty and approval time for developments.
"Australia’s natural environment, its native biodiversity, including animals, birds and plants are a common pool resource from which all Australians receive benefits," said Oceania Section President Richard Kingsford. "We should all be involved in decisions of national importance."
The government will now consider the Senate Committee’s recommendation. If it concurs with the recommendation, it may draft a legislative amendment to pass through both houses and give effect to this change.