Triggered by the introduction of the Environment Protection Act 2019 (NT) (EP Act), the Draft Agreement proposes that the Northern Territory’s (NT) Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will assess various classes of actions that, but for the Draft Agreement, would normally require assessment under the EPBC Act. The effect of the Draft Agreement is that certain classes of action will not be assessed under the EPBC Act and will instead be assessed under the EP Act. The EDO does not support the Draft Agreement or any assessment of matters of national environmental significance (MNES) under NT laws. Our key concerns are that:
a) the NT laws do not meet the current requirements under the EPBC Act and are not appropriate for assessing the impacts of actions on MNES;
b)the NT Government (NTG) is substantially under resourced and does not have capacity for the additional burden that will be imposed upon it under the Draft Agreement;
c) the Draft Agreement does not address the potential for conflicts of interest in NTG assessments where the NTG has an interest in the outcome of the assessment; and
d) the timing of the Draft Agreement is premature given the NTG’s ongoing environmental law reforms and the pending reforms proposed by the Final Report of the EPBC Act 10-year review.