How Gavin Pearce voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government needs to support research and conservation initiatives that aim to put a stop to the current trajectory of animal and plant extinctions in Australia

Division Gavin Pearce Supporters vote Division outcome

23rd Jun 2021, 7:14 PM – Representatives Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Standards and Assurance) Bill 2021 - Second Reading - Do not reject bill

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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.
absent No Passed by a large majority

3rd Sep 2020, 5:40 PM – Representatives Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020 - Third Reading - Pass the bill

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to pass the bill in the House of Representatives. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill for a third time. This means the bill will now be sent to the Senate for their consideration.

There was some controversy in the House due to the speed with which the bill was passed.

What does this bill do?

Due to the speed with which the bill is moving through Parliament, there are no parliamentary library summaries available on what the bill does. We only have the explanatory memorandum, which is a Government-produced document and therefore politically biased. According to the memorandum:

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020 (the Bill) facilitates the legally robust devolution of environmental approvals to the States and Territories.

The Act already provides for devolution of environmental assessments and approvals through bilateral agreements with the States and Territories. Bilateral agreements avoid regulatory duplication by creating a single environmental assessment and approval process for nationally protected matters. The two types of bilateral agreements provided for under the Act are:

  • Assessment bilateral agreements - a State or Territory is accredited to assess the environmental impacts of project proposals on behalf of the Commonwealth, which is then used by the Commonwealth to decide whether or not to approve a project.

  • Approval bilateral agreements - a State or Territory is accredited to assess and approve or refuse to approve project proposals.

The Bill will make technical amendments to the existing provisions of the Act relating to bilateral agreements to support the efficient, effective and enduring operation of bilateral agreements.

In other words, the main aim of the bill is to give greater environmental approval powers to the states and territories rather than the federal government. Researchers and environmental groups are concerned that this will further weaken protections.

absent No Passed by a small majority

How "never voted" is worked out

Normally a person's votes count towards a score which is used to work out a simple phrase to summarise their position on a policy. However in this case Gavin Pearce was absent during all divisions for this policy. So, it's impossible to say anything concrete other than that they have "never voted" on this policy.