The Australian Government is currently consulting on their proposed new Nature Positive laws and are calling for public submissions until 30 March 2024. The submission process can be daunting if you’re not familiar with it, so read on for our submission tips and tricks to ensure your input has the most impact!


How will my submission help wildlife?  

Designed to replace our current national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the proposed Nature Positive laws will play a key role in delivering the Government’s commitment to no new extinctions.  

The Government needs to hear from us that we want Nature Positive laws to be strong enough to halt and reverse the extinction crisis. 


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.


What does HSI Australia think? Points to include in your submission: 

HSI Australia thinks that what we are seeing in the proposed new nature laws provides a good framework for strong new laws, but we are concerned that there is too much discretion that would prevent their effective application.  

We’ve set out some of the positives and negatives from the proposed new laws below. You can use the below points to craft your own submission but remember – the more you use your own wording, the better! 

🤝 Features that we support 🤝

    • A quick no for ‘unacceptable impacts’. This is intended to provide clear guidance for decision makers on the impacts that will be considered unacceptable under the new laws.

    • New National Environmental Standards that will set minimum standards for decision-making.

    • A new Environment Protection Australia (EPA) that will be an independent decision-making and enforcement organisation. 

⛔ Features that harm nature ⛔

    • The proposed Ministerial ‘call-in’ power which will allow the Minister to take decisions out of the hands of the EPA and without being bound by the same safeguards. The proposed call-in power should not be progressed.

    • High levels of discretion in decision making which risk undermining good features such as unacceptable impacts and National Environmental Standards. Decision-making should be based on objective standards.

    • Key protections for critical habitat are not mandatory and are deferred to later decision-making. Clear upfront protections need to be embedded in the laws.
    • The introduction of a ‘pay to destroy’ regime in the form of biodiversity offset payments. The new laws should not include any such regime.

    • Maintaining the ability for decision making and compliance to be handed to States and Territories through accredited approvals. 

🔍 What’s missing 🔍

    • Proper incorporation of the impact of climate change on wildlife.
    • Community rights to make an appeal on their merits against decisions that don’t properly address the needs of nature. 


What the survey requires: 

The survey will ask you about your overall support for Nature Positive laws and then allow you to select which topics you would like to comment on. You can comment on one or all of the topics.  

Below we’ve provided links to relevant Nature Law Explainers for each topic that might help you with your response. Our Nature Law Explainers discuss in simple terms the features of good Nature Positive laws, as well as some of the concerns we’ve been seeing in the consultation materials 

If you prefer to make your submission by uploading a document instead of addressing the various topics, complete the mandatory questions and you will be able to skip to the page where you can upload documents. 


Here’s a list of the survey topics you can select alongside some suggested text for each, plus the relevant ‘Nature Law Explainer’ to help with extra detail for your response: 

Matters of National Environmental Significance 

The new laws must have a primary object, such as to conserve, protect and recover Australia’s environment, its natural heritage and biological diversity. In addition to the existing Matters of National Environmental Significance, new laws must be triggered by ecological communities listed as Vulnerable, by climate change impacts and by deforestation. These triggers must be supported by clear “red-lines”, including critical habitat, that prevent unacceptable impact on protected matters. 

National Environmental Standards 

Strong, legally binding National Environmental Standards must be the foundation of our new laws. They must apply at all scales to all decisions and all actions, set clear boundaries for decision-makers, stop the nature destruction, including critical habitat, and help our threatened wildlife and their habitats recover.  

Climate change 

Climate change must be properly embedded throughout the new laws including a duty on all decision makers to appropriately consider climate change impacts. Changes must include a requirement to consider downstream emissions, for example the climate emissions from burning coal and gas that is extracted within Australia, wherever they occur.  

Community engagement 

Good environmental decision making embeds community rights from start to finish. Community rights in our new nature laws must be built around the right to access information, the right to have a genuine say in decision-making, and the right to appeal decisions that are made illegally or not in the public interest. 

Conservation planning 

Good conservation planning requires strong ambition, federal leadership and necessary resourcing. We must protect what we have, especially critical habitat; focus on key threats and recovery actions; respond to environmental change, including climate change; and ensure clear, mandated targets for recovery that we can measure progress against.  

Environment Information Australia 

Environment Information Australia will provide data vital for good decision-making and it must be appropriately resourced. It should also be required to track progress against recovery and threat abatement strategies so we can assess whether the reformed laws are effectively reversing the extinction crisis. 

Environment Protection Australia 

EPA should be responsible for making all project approval decisions by first considering whether a project will have unacceptable impacts and should be refused, and then ensuring proposals are in line with National Environmental Standards. It must be adequately resourced and governed by an independent Board. The Minister must not have an unfettered ability to ‘call projects in’ and override the independent EPA or the standards.  

Environmental assessments and approvals 

Decision making must be based on clear and unambiguous unacceptable impacts and the mandatory application of strong, objective National Environmental Standards. Any use of biodiversity offsets must be based on best practice principles, and ‘pay to destroy schemes’(i.e. offset payments or ‘restoration contributions’) must not be allowed.  

Regional planning or strategic assessments 

Regional planning must be established by a framework that protects natural and cultural heritage places, protects critical habitat, threatened species populations and achieves biodiversity goals and ensures ecologically sustainable development. This requires clear guidance on the conservation-led and science based outcomes and measurable objectives that must be achieved, recognising and incorporating available new information. 


If you haven’t already, this is a great place to ask for a ban on the import of hunting trophies. We’ve suggested some words you might like to use: 

I am disappointed that the proposed new laws do not currently include a ban on the import of hunting trophies. Please make sure our new laws implement a ban and help to bring an end to Australia’s role in this cruel practice. 


Remember to complete your submission by March 30th! 


Some more resources to help prepare your submission: 

  • There are a number of resources available to help you understand the Government’s Nature Positive proposals, from webinars to policy papers. You can review all these resources here. 
  • You can see the full list of Nature Law Explainers here. 

What else? 

If you do make a submission, we’d love to know. Please email us at if you make a submission either by email or through the Have Your Say portal. Want to know more about the law reform process? Check out our blog Demystifying Law Reform by our Head of Campaigns Nicola Beynon

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