8 December 2022


Labor’s response to the Samuel Review, released today, creates more uncertainty and more doubt for the business community and continues the assault on the job-creators of our nation, particularly in rural and regional communities.

Better environmental outcomes are essential and the Coalition supports the need to ensure that what we do in our country has minimal impact on our precious environment, but not at the cost of thousands of jobs and unworkable regulation which will strangle businesses across the country.

Far from the balance between environmental and economic outcomes promised, the lack of detail around how the new laws and standards would be developed, by whom, when and how they would operate creates a high degree of uncertainty which will sound alarm bells for those considering investing in our country.

That is on top of the lack of clarity around costs. Not once did the Minister promise in today’s announcement that it would be cheaper to get environmental approvals. The new cost-recovery arrangements, the new unaccountable Environmental Protection Authority with unspecified powers and the notion of new “conservation payments” which could amount to tens of millions of dollars will have a chilling effect on economic growth at a time Australia needs it most.

To add to these problems, Labor has also duplicated and deferred a range of work that had already been started by the Coalition from way back in January 2021, at the time of the release of our own response to the Samuel Review – nearly two years ago.  Extraordinarily, it is now adopting – and trying to pass off as its own – numerous Coalition initiatives that it continually blocked and stalled during its nine years in Opposition.

This work included the presentation of two Bills to the Parliament; the drafting of comprehensive new National Environmental Standards; the creation of the $47 million Digital Environmental Assessment Program; the increase in the number of key EPBC Act decisions made ‘on time’ to 96%; and the formation of 10 new regional environmental plans worth $128.5 million.

Of course, it is also worth noting that the establishment of an EPA was actually not even mentioned in the Samuel Review Final Report, let alone among any of its recommendations.

To add to Labor’s disregard, many of the 38 Samuel Review recommendations themselves have also been ignored, or deferred for ‘further consultation’, as part of its flimsy response. Accordingly, even in relation to the small set of recommendations that Labor says it will actually pursue, it is now likely that their implementation will come months and years later than the prescribed Samuel Review deadline of early 2023.