EPBC Act Amendments – Tony Abbott 2.0

29 July 2020

Labor opposes the Morrison Government’s attempt to rehash Tony Abbott’s failed 2014 environment bill, which would harm Australia’s natural environment and put jobs and investment at risk. 


Australia can’t afford to allow the alarming environmental decline that we have seen under the Liberals and Nationals.


Australia has just experienced a devastating bushfire crisis.  People died, homes were destroyed, 3 billion animals died or were displaced, 12 million hectares burned and populations of Australian icons like the koala are on the brink.


Australia was experiencing an extinction crisis even before the bushfires.

Instead of proposing laws that are in line with their own independent review, led by Professor Graham Samuel, this bill would see more major project job delays, more investment uncertainty, more conflict, less trust in decisions and worse outcomes for the environment. 
There are no National Environment Standards in this bill, despite those being the foundation of Professor Graeme Samuel’s proposed reforms. With no proposed standards, no independent ‘cop on the beat,’ and no additional funding for the states despite the extra responsibility, this bill is designed for political conflict.

In his Interim Report, Professor Samuel warned against the exact approach the government is now taking:
“In 2015 the Parliament did not support these amendments, in response to significant community concerns about the ability of states and territories to uphold the national interest when applying discretion in approval decisions.”
Labor has constructively engaged with the Samuel Review from the very start. Scott Morrison has very favourable conditions for reform: an Opposition that has said we will engage constructively, a well-respected Review chair who is working with leaders from agriculture, resources and business, as well as traditional owners, conservationists and academics.

If Scott Morrison was serious about securing broad support and durable reform, he would not be rehashing Tony Abbott’s failed 2014 bill, breaking his promise on national standards or cherry-picked the interim report of one of Australia’s most experienced business regulators.
The Morrison Government should:

  • Introduce strong national environmental standards;
  • Establish a genuinely independent ‘cop on the beat’ for Australia’s environment; and
  • Fix the explosion in unnecessary 510 per cent job and investment delays caused by their massive funding cuts.


The Samuel Review is the most significant opportunity for environmental reform in the last 20 years – but Scott Morrison is bungling it.

Labor’s record
Every major achievement in environmental protection in this nation’s history has been delivered by a Labor government.
Labor’s legacy in government is that we protected the Daintree, Kakadu, the Great Barrier Reef, the Franklin and Antarctica. We created Landcare, and we created what was, at the time, the largest network of marine parks in the world.


Only Labor has the will and the capacity to protect Australia’s environment.
Liberal and Nationals record of environmental mismanagement
Australia has a jobs crisis and environmental crisis and the Morrison Government is failing on both counts. They have:


  • Cut 40% of the funding to the environment department, which predictably led to job and investment delays, mismanagement, and environmental decline;
  • Overseen massive delays to jobs and investment, which exploded to 510% under their watch;
  • Overseen 79% of decisions being affected by error or being non-compliant. During that time, they have assessed tens of billions of dollars’ worth of projects;
  • Overseen unprecedented decline in Australia's beautiful and precious natural environment.

Labor will continue to hold the Morrison Government to account. If you’d like to add your voice, I encourage you to contact the Minister. She can be contacted at:


The Hon Sussan Ley MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600




[email protected].