Reviewing Australia’s Environment Laws After The Fires


The Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act has, throughout its history, facilitated developments as the expense of ecologies across the continent, enabling environmental destruction on a grand scale. And yet, the Morrison Government has framed this year’s statutory review as an opportunity to make development even easier, “cutting green tape” to speed up approvals processes.

The summer’s fires, bringing with them public attention focussed on the enormous ecological destruction, have changed the context for this review dramatically. For the first time, bushfires in Australia have been seen not as a “natural disaster” impacting on humans, but as a human-caused catastrophe with disastrous consequences for the wildlife and the natural world – consequences which will inevitably rebound on human society.

This seminar, featuring visiting fellow Tim Hollo, post-doctoral fellow Dr Virginia Marshall, Dr Helen Taylor from the Centre for Social Research and Methods, and other speakers, will discuss the review as an opportunity to recast environmental protection laws in Australia. It will traverse issues such as Rights of Nature, ecocide, Earth-centred governance, Indigenous environmental management, and more, in the context of the urgent need to protect and restore remaining ecosystems.


Date: Tuesday 24 March, 2020
Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Location: McDonald Room, Menzies Library, Australian National University, Canberra

Submissions to the statutory review are open until 17 April 2020. Following the seminar, there will be an informal roundtable discussion in the same room to discuss writing submissions to the review and mobilising others to do so.

About the speakers

Tim Hollo is a Visiting Fellow at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and Executive Director of the Green Institute, where he leads thinking around ecological political philosophy and practice and drives policy discussion around Rights of Nature, Universal Basic Income and participatory democracy.

Tim was previously Communications Director for Greens Leader Christine Milne, has been both a board member and campaigner at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, and has worked for 350, Lock the Gate and others. His writing on environmental, social and political issues has been widely published, including at the Griffith Review, the Guardian, ABC, Huffington Post, and Crikey, as well as Green Institute monographs, discussion papers and blogs.

Virginia Marshall is the Inaugural Indigenous Postdoctoral Fellow with the Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and the Fenner School of Environment and Society. She is a practising lawyer and duty solicitor, a former associate & researcher with the Federal Court of Australia in Sydney and professional member of the NSW Law Society and Women Lawyers Association of NSW. Former Senior Legal Officer of the Australian Law Reform Commission and inquiry into ‘Family Violence & Commonwealth Laws: Improving Legal Frameworks’ (ALRC 117), Executive Officer of the NSW overnment’s ‘Aboriginal Water Trust’ and criminal defence lawyer with NSW Legal Aid.

Virginia is the winner of the WEH Stanner Award for the best thesis by an Indigenous author, titled, ‘A web of Aboriginal water rights: Examining the competing Aboriginal claim for water property rights and interests in Australia’.

Helen Taylor is a Research Officer at the Centre for Social Research and Methods, Australian National University.