Tell Tanya Plibersek what you think of her “Nature Positive” reforms

The Albanese government is planning reforms with the catchy title of “Nature Positive” but in reality the proposed laws will open the floodgates for clearing of native vegetation and destruction of habitat which is likely to turbocharge Australia’s climate crisis and result in further biodiversity collapse. Deadline: Sunday, 31st March 2024

Remind Tanya Plibersek’s her reforms will do NOTHING to prevent a repetition of the scandalous destruction of critically endangered habitat as occurred at the Leard State Forest, when a previous Labor Government approved coal mines to excavate and destroy white box grassy woodland, the best quality remaining of the <1% that represents its original extent.

READ our submission to Whitehaven Coal’s Modification 9, and attach it to your “Nature Positive” submission so there is no mistake: nothing in the “Nature Positive” reforms will prevent a repetition of the Leard Forest catastrophe which is clearly visible in this picture. Mod 9 was approved by the Department on the 20th March 2024.

Image: Maules Creek Coal mine in the Leard State Forest, January 2024. Credit Wando Conservation & Cultural Centre Inc.


  • Tanya’s reforms DO NOT prevent “backloading”, where her Department approves of biodiversity offsets on a promise that they have been mapped and surveyed accurately without proof they are as promised;
  • The proposed Federal EPA will not prevent the appointment of coal and gas industry insiders to important roles, just like what happened in NSW where the EPA’s CEO is ex-Whitehaven Senior Counsel and ex-AGL senior executive;
  • “Nature Positive” will not strengthen compliance. Tanya has had over a year to implement a promised compliance audit of EPBC offenders, but INSTEAD OF CRACKING DOWN ON COMPANIES THAT BREACH THEIR OBLIGATIONS, she has given offenders like Maules Creek Coal mine a get out of gaol free card and approved them to replace their non-compliant offsets for the Leard – with new non-compliant offsets – and lengthened the timeline in which they can keep destroying the forest;
  • There is already an Independent Expert Scientific Committee – the IESC – which is ROUTINELY IGNORED when the independent scientists express their doubts about proponent claims. We have seen this time and time again, where the IESC advice is given lip-service, and a promise that the bureaucrats will carefully monitor projects – they NEVER DO.
  • The devolving of the Water Trigger to State and Territory oversight is extremely concerning.

If you want to read more detail, we suggest you check out the Environmental Defender’s Office website for an explanation about key reforms needed.

The EDO says:

An independent EPA, with a clear statutory role and good governance arrangements, is best placed to fix the trust deficit in environmental decision-making

Community trust can only be restored in environmental decision-making if the decision-maker itself is transparent, accountable, and non-partisan. EDO remains concerned about the EPA’s governance arrangements.  We are concerned about the proposed process for direct Ministerial appointment of the EPA’s CEO, rather than an independent, skills-based Board model that has consistently been recommended by experts. An advisory body, appointed to assist the EPA in expert analysis and decision-making would be a useful addition – but only if the appointment, terms of reference, and conflict of interest policy for the advisory body are robust. Without public scrutiny of these functions, and transparency in the CEO’s appointment process, the independence of the EPA may be in doubt. 

Similarly, the proposed Ministerial “call-in” power threatens to undermine certainty in the new system. The power would give the Environment Minister of the day the ability to take a decision out of the EPA’s hands at any point up to before the day the decision by the EPA is due, for any reason. Concerningly, the Minister’s approval powers will be less robust – the Minister will not be required to apply the same considerations and legal protections as the EPA. It would allow the Minister to approve what would otherwise be an unacceptable impact, and to agree to projects that don’t adhere to the Standards. With such a broad and undefined power, the call-in may be seen as an ‘easy way through’ for proponents, who might seek to lobby the Minister of the day to call-in a project, given the less rigorous decision-making process.”

How to make a submission: 

To ‘Have Your Say’ you can:

The survey also allows you to upload documents, including a written submission if you wish to. So, we suggest you remind the Albanese Government of the disaster at Leard Forest, by attaching our submission explaining the failure of the Commonwealth to enforce its own conditions.

Fun fact. Here is a video where Federal Department of Environment top bureaucrat Mahani Taylor spruiks the new laws. Ms Taylor was integrally involved in the approval of Maules Creek Coal mine!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *