Act for birds

Australian nature laws update

Wednesday, 1 November 2023

  • Estimated reading time 2min

Review of Proposed Australian Nature Law Reforms by BirdLife Australia

BirdLife Australia’s senior policy and conservation experts are fresh out of closed-door reviews of the Albanese Government’s proposals to reform Australia’s national nature laws. This review is part of an ongoing consultation  process that will continue into next year.

This review is an important step to securing positive reforms, but there’s much more work to do to ensure these new laws will genuinely protect birds and the places they live.

Click here to learn more about the campaign for strong new nature laws and find out how you can get involved. 

We know the campaign for strong new nature laws is important to you and your community.

While this was our first opportunity to review some of the proposals in detail, we expect further opportunities to examine the reformed laws. We have also joined other leading environment groups calling on the Minister for the Environment to run broader public consultation before introducing these critical reforms to parliament next year.

While we wait for further announcements and consultations, we wanted to give you a quick update on our initial thoughts. 

Reporting from the closed-door review in Canberra, BirdLife Australia’s Dr Jenny Lau and Andrew Witheford.

First, the good! Some of our key priorities are included in the proposals including: 

  • Formal recovery strategies for every nationally threatened bird. 
  • National environmental standards to support more rigorous and consistent decision making. 
  • An independent national Environmental Protection Agency (to be called Environment Protection Australia) that would sit at arm’s length from the Government of the day and would be responsible for making decisions on project proposals that could harm threatened birds and important natural areas. 
  • The development of a more robust system for the management and use of environmental data by a statutory office, Environment Information Australia. 

But there are areas that will require more work, including:  

  • Boosting people’s confidence in the new laws. To improve public trust in the new laws and the institutions that will be responsible for delivering them the Government should provide the public with an opportunity to review and have its say. 
  • The Minister of the day will retain a broad general ‘call in’ power that will allow them to make a decision on individual proposals that are deemed to warrant ministerial intervention. What is proposed in this new package is weaker than the settings under current laws.  
  • The new laws envisage a system of “restoration actions’ – offsets – and “restoration contributions” to compensate for “residual” environmental impacts.  This mechanism will need to be carefully designed, implemented and monitored to ensure that it supports real improvements for birds and their habitat, and doesn’t facilitate destruction. 

We will need your support over the next 12 months to ensure that the Australian Government enacts the strongest package of new nature laws. 

Nature is in crisis. This once in a generation opportunity for strong new laws that will genuinely protect and recover the birds and places we love must not be wasted.  

Click here to learn more about the campaign for strong new nature laws and find out how you can get involved.