NELA makes submissions to state and federal governments on topics of interest and is represented on relevant stakeholder government committees and consultation forums. NELA’s contributions range from written submissions to formal inquiries to arranging roundtable discussions with government agencies and ministers.

NELA works closely with centres of excellence in environment and resources law at leading universities to promote debate about environment and climate change laws in civic, professional and academic forums. In 2013, for example, the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law at Melbourne Law School was a national conference partner and sponsor and we jointly edited a special edition of the Environment and Planning Law Journal with selected papers from the conference. 
NELA’s current priority policy projects are:

Oceans Policy 

Protecting biodiversity and cultural values 

Delivering a low carbon future - Conference presentation and audio of the plenaries are available

Oceans Policy

Australia has the third largest maritime territory in the world. Its oceans contain an extraordinary diversity of seascapes, unique marine life, significant fisheries and natural gas reserves, and world-famous areas such as the Great Barrier Reef. Much of it is in good condition, but there are parts that are increasingly threatened by pressures such as urban coastal development, port expansion, dredging, shipping, fishing, oil and gas development and other resources use, as well as the impacts of climate change.

NELA has promoted an improved, national approach to managing our seas since 2006 when it launched the Out of the Blue report with the Australian Conservation Foundation. In 2012 NELA agreed to advocate for Australia to build on its network of marine reserves to develop a system of marine spatial planning that covers all of our oceans and applies to all sectors that use ocean resources - shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, tourism and marine research and conservation. It proposes a national oceans commission that brings together federal and state governments, and the development of eco-system based regional oceans plans that would set objectives and permissible uses for each marine use zone. The plans would cover state and Commonwealth territorial waters which are currently managed separately, extending from the coastal baseline to the edge of the internationally recognised Exclusive Economic Zone.

Marine spatial planning is increasingly recognized internationally as the key to integrated marine and coastal planning and management. It is NELA’s position that Australia, as a wealthy nation with a large marine area, should contribute to this process.

NELA provides submissions to state and federal governments on marine and coastal management regulation.

Brief to Environment Minister Hunt on NELA’s National Oceans  Policy proposal, 29 January 2014 

Submission on Draft Great Barrier Reef Coastal Zone Strategic Assessment 2013 and the associated Program Report, January 2014 

Submission on the Draft Victorian Coastal Strategy 2013

Sarah Waddell presentation to 3rd Future of Environmental Law Symposium, Law Council of Australia, 8 November 2013      

Link to World Oceans Day seminar June 2012 in Sydney

Link to November 2012 Oceans law and governance seminar in Melbourne 

NELA is looking to partner with institutions to further research and develop the detail of how integrated marine and coastal planning and management could be implemented in Australia, including lessons learned from models adopted to date within Australia and overseas as well as ecosystem-based approaches adopted in other areas of natural resources law.

Protecting biodiversity and cultural values

NELA supports streamlined environmental regulation through greater use of strategic impact assessment to facilitate landscape scale assessment and approvals and integrated federal, state and territory approvals. NELA does not support the Australian Government providing wholesale delegation to the states and territories for its responsibility for environment approvals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. NELA is concerned about proposals for a rapid shift of responsibility to state and territory agencies that are often under resourced and urge a staged approach to avoid unnecessary complexity and uncertainty.

NELA proposes a national standard for biodiversity offsets to underpin a more effective approach to putting a value on biodiversity – Proposal to Environment Minister Hunt for a national biodiversity offset standard, January 2014

NELA made submissions to the COAG taskforce on environmental regulation reforms during 2012 and contributed to the federal government’s stakeholder forum on the reforms until they were abandoned in early 2013.
NELA advocated for improved use of strategic impact assessments in the context of COAG proposals for streamlining environmental decision making in 2012.

NELA's submission to COAG taskforce

Developments in Strategic Impact Assessments Forum

Delivering a low carbon future 

The National Environmental Law Association (NELA) welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission in response to the Issues paper on Setting Australia’s Post-2020 target for greenhouse gas emissions. A copy of the submission is here.

NELA provided a submission Submission to Australian Government Department of the Environment on the Emissions Reduction Fund Green Paper. A copy of the submission is here.

NELA promotes debate on many aspects of federal, state and territory regulations on reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and related international developments. We’ve held events covering the role of the states in delivering a low carbon future under a federal carbon price, international developments in carbon markets, regulation of the electricity supply industry, and promoting biodiversity benefits in carbon farming credits.

The NELA national conference in March 2013 debated all of these issues with leading national and international speakers. The presentations are available here

NELA has a particular interest in making sure the rules for recognising carbon credits through reforestation and avoided clearing are linked to regulations and programs offering financial incentives for enhancing biodiversity.

NELA provided a submission to the federal government on draft bills to repeal the carbon tax legislation on 4 November 2013. A copy of the submission is here.