The majority voted in favour of disagreeing with an amendment to the usual second reading motion, which is "That the bill be read a second time" (parliamentary jargon for agreeing with the main idea of the bill). This means that the amendment failed and that the bill will continue to be considered.

Amendment text

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:


(1) noting that the bill:

(a) does the bare minimum by giving the Minister unclear, discretionary powers to create weak environmental standards with poor oversight;

(b) establishes a watered-down Environmental Assurance Commissioner with limited powers and little independence, which is a far cry from the strong cop on the beat recommended by Professor Graeme Samuel AC in his Interim Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999; and

(c) will do little to protect Australia's precious environment or reverse the current extinction crisis;

(2) the House:

(a) declines to give the bill a second reading; and

(b) calls on the Government to instead pass the Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority Bill 2021, which sets up a completely independent body with the power to strengthen environmental regulation, ensure accountability and achieve real environmental outcomes".

What is the bill's main idea?

The bill was introduced in order to amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) in order to establish:

  • a framework for making, varying, revoking and applying National Environmental Standards and
  • an Environment Assurance Commissioner (EAC) to monitor and audit the operation of bilateral agreements with the states and territories as well as to oversee Commonwealth processes under the EPBC Act for making and enforcing approval decisions.

The bills digest sets out the following 'Key Issues' relating to the bill:

  • Industry groups broadly support the Bill, including the framework for National Environmental Standards and the proposed EAC. They consider this Bill, together with the Streamlining Bill, would provide certainty and clarity while addressing regulatory duplication in environmental approvals. However, several industry groups suggest that any National Environmental Standards made under the Bill should reflect the existing requirements of the EPBC Act.
  • Other stakeholders, including environmental, legal and scientific organisations, generally do not support the Bill, expressing considerable concern. Many noted the lack of a comprehensive government response to the Final Report of the Samuel Review, and suggested that the Government was ‘cherry picking’ recommendations and making piecemeal reforms, rather than implementing the full range of ‘tranche 1’ reforms identified in the Final Report.
  • Many of these other stakeholders also suggested that the Bill does not properly reflect the recommendations in the Samuel Review which the Bill is proposing to implement. Their concerns included:
    • uncertainty as to the content and application of the proposed National Environmental Standards due to the broad Ministerial discretion provided, as well as the lack of parliamentary scrutiny of the initial standards and
    • the proposed EAC’s limited powers, resourcing and independence.

Votes Passed by a large majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Adam Bandt Melbourne Australian Greens No
Australian Labor Party (25% turnout) 17 Yes 0 No
Chris Bowen McMahon Yes
Tony Burke Watson Yes
Josh Burns Macnamara Yes
Terri Butler Griffith Yes
Sharon Claydon Newcastle Yes
Julie Collins Franklin Yes
Milton Dick Oxley Yes
Mark Dreyfus Isaacs Yes
Matt Keogh Burt Yes
Richard Marles Corio Yes
Kristy McBain Eden-Monaro Yes
Daniel Mulino Fraser Yes
Joanne Ryan Lalor Yes
Anne Stanley Werriwa Yes
Susan Templeman Macquarie Yes
Maria Vamvakinou Calwell Yes
Tony Zappia Makin Yes
Anthony Albanese Grayndler Absent
Anne Aly Cowan Absent
Sharon Bird Cunningham Absent
Linda Burney Barton Absent
Mark Butler Hindmarsh Absent
Anthony Byrne Holt Absent
Jim Chalmers Rankin Absent
Nick Champion Spence Absent
Lisa Chesters Bendigo Absent
Jason Clare Blaxland Absent
Libby Coker Corangamite Absent
Pat Conroy Shortland Absent
Justine Elliot Richmond Absent
Joel Fitzgibbon Hunter Absent
Mike Freelander Macarthur Absent
Steve Georganas Adelaide Absent
Andrew Giles Scullin Absent
Patrick Gorman Perth Absent
Luke Gosling Solomon Absent
Chris Hayes Fowler Absent
Julian Hill Bruce Absent
Ed Husic Chifley Absent
Stephen Jones Whitlam Absent
Ged Kearney Cooper Absent
Peter Khalil Wills Absent
Catherine King Ballarat Absent
Madeleine King Brand Absent
Andrew Leigh Fenner Absent
Emma McBride Dobell Absent
Brian Mitchell Lyons Absent
Rob Mitchell McEwen Absent
Peta Murphy Dunkley Absent
Shayne Neumann Blair Absent
Brendan O'Connor Gorton Absent
Clare O'Neil Hotham Absent
Julie Owens Parramatta Absent
Alicia Payne Canberra Absent
Graham Perrett Moreton Absent
Fiona Phillips Gilmore Absent
Tanya Plibersek Sydney Absent
Amanda Rishworth Kingston Absent
Michelle Rowland Greenway Absent
Bill Shorten Maribyrnong Absent
David Smith Bean Absent
Warren Snowdon Lingiari Absent
Meryl Swanson Paterson Absent
Matt Thistlethwaite Kingsford Smith Absent
Kate Thwaites Jagajaga Absent
Tim Watts Gellibrand Absent
Anika Wells Lilley Absent
Josh Wilson Fremantle Absent
Rebekha Sharkie Mayo Centre Alliance No
Mark Coulton Parkes Deputy Speaker Yes
Helen Haines Indi Independent No
Zali Steggall Warringah Independent No
Andrew Wilkie Clark Independent No
Craig Kelly Hughes Independent Absent
Bob Katter Kennedy Katter's Australian Party Absent
Liberal National Party (100% turnout) 5 Yes 0 No
Angie Bell Moncrieff Yes
Garth Hamilton Groom Yes
Julian Simmonds Ryan Yes
Phillip Thompson Herbert Yes
Terry Young Longman Yes
Liberal Party (78% turnout) 42 Yes 0 No
John Alexander Bennelong Yes
Katie Allen Higgins Yes
Karen Andrews McPherson Yes
Kevin Andrews Menzies Yes
Bridget Archer Bass Yes
Russell Broadbent Monash Yes
Scott Buchholz Wright Yes
David Coleman Banks Yes
Vince Connelly Stirling Yes
Warren Entsch Leichhardt Yes
Jason Falinski Mackellar Yes
Paul Fletcher Bradfield Yes
Nicolle Flint Boothby Yes
Celia Hammond Curtin Yes
Andrew Hastie Canning Yes
Alex Hawke Mitchell Yes
Luke Howarth Petrie Yes
Andrew Laming Bowman Yes
Julian Leeser Berowra Yes
Sussan Ley Farrer Yes
Gladys Liu Chisholm Yes
Nola Marino Forrest Yes
Fiona Martin Reid Yes
Melissa McIntosh Lindsay Yes
Ben Morton Tangney Yes
Ted O'Brien Fairfax Yes
Tony Pasin Barker Yes
Christian Porter Pearce Yes
Melissa Price Durack Yes
Rowan Ramsey Grey Yes
Stuart Robert Fadden Yes
Dave Sharma Wentworth Yes
James Stevens Sturt Yes
Michael Sukkar Deakin Yes
Angus Taylor Hume Yes
Alan Tudge Aston Yes
Andrew Wallace Fisher Yes
Rick Wilson O'Connor Yes
Tim Wilson Goldstein Yes
Jason Wood La Trobe Yes
Ken Wyatt Hasluck Yes
Trent Zimmerman North Sydney Yes
Peter Dutton Dickson Absent
Trevor Evans Brisbane Absent
Josh Frydenberg Kooyong Absent
Ian Goodenough Moore Absent
Greg Hunt Flinders Absent
Steve Irons Swan Absent
Scott Morrison Cook Absent
Gavin Pearce Braddon Absent
Dan Tehan Wannon Absent
Bert Van Manen Forde Absent
Ross Vasta Bonner Absent
Lucy Wicks Robertson Absent
National Party (73% turnout) 11 Yes 0 No
George Christensen Dawson Yes
Pat Conaghan Cowper Yes
Damian Drum Nicholls Yes
David Gillespie Lyne Yes
Kevin Hogan Page Yes
Michelle Landry Capricornia Yes
Michael McCormack Riverina Yes
Llew O'Brien Wide Bay Yes
Ken O'Dowd Flynn Yes
Keith Pitt Hinkler Yes
Anne Webster Mallee Yes
Darren Chester Gippsland Absent
Andrew Gee Calare Absent
Barnaby Joyce New England Absent
David Littleproud Maranoa Absent
Tony Smith Casey Speaker Absent
Totals (54% turnout) 76 Yes – 5 No