Act for birds

Nature law reform undermined

Thursday, 28 March 2024

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Nature law reform undermined, on a path to more extinctions

BirdLife Australia’s environmental law and policy experts have today emerged from a two-day closed-door examination of Australia’s proposed new nature laws with serious concerns.

The consultation could be the final lockup in a series conducted as part of Australia’s reform of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC); – a process that has been in the Federal Government’s pipeline for two years.

Unfortunately, this latest session has confirmed our concerns that the trajectory of the proposed reforms could see them land far short of the Government’s commitment to halt extinctions and turn things around for nature.

This has been the fourth session of access by select stakeholders to the proposed reforms over the past few months, 15 months after the Government announced its once-in-a-generation reforms to Australia’s broken national environmental legislation in 2022.

Strong nature laws can emerge from these proposals if we:   

  • Give stronger regulatory teeth and more funding to the redesigned conservation planning system, critical for identifying threatened species and recovering their numbers. This means ensuring that every recovery plan (strategy) has a legal instrument that protects the most important habitat of that species and threatened ecological communities from destruction.
  • Get rid of proposed ‘pay to destroy’ conservation payments, which would allow species and habitat destruction – in return for a financial contribution.
  • Under current proposals, the Minister would retain a broad discretionary power to intervene and override environmental protections, undermining any strengthened protections in the legislation. This must be addressed.
  • Abandon the discretionary, opaque environmental assessment system we currently have in favour of a more transparent, rules-based approach – this being a key recommendation of the independent Samuel Review.
  • Make native forest logging subject to the new laws and ensure no other industries receive exemptions.


Project proponents, particularly the mining industry, have been very vocal in recent weeks about the potential implications of the new laws for their interests. They are pushing back on key elements like an independent Environmental Protection Australia (EPA) that can reject damaging projects and strong national environment standards. They are trying to delay the passage of legislation and the reason why is clear.

They don’t want to fix some of the most broken elements of our current laws.

The current proposals will not deliver the major upgrade in environmental protection that the Federal Government had promised and may instead erode protections that are already failing. Sign our petition for strong nature laws today.

BirdLife Australia will continue to work with the Government to ensure that Australia’s broken nature laws are fixed as a matter of urgency, so that we can build a brighter future for our birds and their environment.

We can’t afford to miss this once-in-a-generation opportunity. Join our campaign calling for the Federal Government to fix our broken nature laws and save our threatened birds from extinction.