The majority voted in favour of passing the bill in the House of Representatives. In parliamentary jargon, they agreed to give the bill a third reading. This means that the bill will now go to the Senate for them to decide whether they also want to pass it so it can become law.
What is the main idea of the bill?
The purpose of this bill is to make it so that only "aggrieved persons" can seek judicial review of decisions made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
According to the bills digest, "[t]he Bill is a response to a successful challenge by the Mackay Conservation Group against the Minister for the Environment’s decision to grant approval under the EPBC Act for the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland (proposed by Adani Mining Pty Ltd)".
What is judicial review?
When a person seeks judicial review, they are asking the courts to decide whether the government has made a particular decision properly according to the law. The courts do not decide whether the decision was good or not; they only decide whether it was lawful.
In order to seek judicial review, you must have standing - meaning, the right to seek judicial review.
Currently, under the EPBC Act, Australian people and organisations involved with environmental protection, conservation or research can have standing to seek judicial review. That was how the Mackay Conservation Group were able to bring their action against the Carmichael coal mine.
Who is an "aggrieved person"?
An "aggrieved person" is a person whose interests would be ‘adversely affected’ by the decision made under the EPBC Act. Generally, those interests need to be directly affected and the person needs to be able to show a 'special interest' beyond just being a member of the public.
What does this mean?
The bills digest says that the bill "raises questions about accountable and responsible government" and it is also "unclear whether the Bill will achieve its intended purpose", which is to prevent disruptions and delays to projects approved under the EPBC Act.