The Standards and Assurance Bill has been brought in to try to win over senate support for the government’s stalled Streamlining Environmental Approvals Bill (which will enable it to hand over decision making powers to the states, territories and local governments).

The Standards and Assurance Bill bill aims to do two core things:

  1. Establish a national framework for environmental standards. (Hint: environmental standards are simply a technical way of talking about what environmental outcomes decision making should deliver.)
  2. Establish the position of a National Environmental Assurance Commissioner, to audit the implementation of standards by states and territories as well as the Commonwealth.

We believe these measures are important, but the Standards and Assurance Bill is poorly drafted and has too many loopholes to deliver environmental outcomes. Strengthening the legislation is critical if we are to address Australia’s worsening extinction crisis.