Fact sheet 3: A Strong Assurance Framework

Department of the Environment, 2014

The One-Stop Shop will reduce duplication of environmental assessment and approval processes between the Australian Government and states and territories. We can improve business efficiency while Australia’s strong environmental standards will be maintained.

Under the One-Stop Shop, states and territories will be responsible for assessment and approval of projects that are covered by an approval bilateral agreement. A strong assurance framework will be implemented to ensure standards are maintained.

There are three core elements:

  • national environmental standards that states and territories are required to meet to be accredited
  • performance assurance to ensure commitments are met under approval bilateral agreements
  • outcomes assurance to ensure good outcomes for business and the environment

Approval bilateral agreements and accredited state and territory processes will give effect to the standards and the performance and outcomes assurance elements of the framework.

Actions to improve the implementation of the reforms

National environmental standards

Before states and territories can be accredited to make approval decisions they must demonstrate that their processes meet the high environmental standards set out in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The national standards are available on the Department’s website at 'One stop shop' for environmental approvals

Performance assurance

The Australian Government will work collaboratively with the states and territories to ensure that commitments under approval bilateral agreements are met. Performance assurance includes:

  • evaluation or audits against state and territory commitments in the bilateral agreements
  • transitional and five yearly reviews of bilateral agreements
  • reporting mechanisms to enable the Australian Government to fulfil its reporting obligations under the EPBC Act and internationally
  • ongoing monitoring and continuous improvement mechanisms

Transparency of decisions and provision of information will ensure that the broader community is part of the ongoing monitoring process for approval bilateral agreements. States and territories will be accountable to the community and business, as well as the Australian Government.

Escalated dispute resolution

The success of the One-Stop Shop depends on all parties meeting their commitments under the approval bilateral agreements. Most issues are expected to be resolved through ongoing consultation between Australian Government and state and territory senior officials.

Where issues are not resolved, an escalated dispute resolution process may be initiated:

  • the Commonwealth may issue a Notice of Particular Interest to the state or territory when serious or irreversible environmental damage is likely. This notice will be made public
  • the Federal Environment Minister may ‘call-in’ a project up to the point of a state or territory approval decision for a proposed project if the project will result in, or is likely to result in, serious or irreversible environmental damage and a breach of the agreement
  • in extreme circumstances, the Minister may exercise power under the EPBC Act to suspend or cancel an agreement

Outcomes assurance

The outcomes achieved through the One-Stop Shop will be measured to track the operation and effectiveness of approval bilateral agreements. The Australian Government will also work collaboratively with states and territories to ensure that the One-Stop Shop leads to business efficiency and good environmental outcomes.

A key objective of outcomes assurance is transparent and accessible environmental information and data that can be used by business, governments and the community. This will reduce costs, streamline environmental approvals, improve our understanding of cumulative environmental impacts and assist with putting strategic environmental assessments in place.

More information

For more information on the One-Stop Shop for environmental approvals, please go to 'One stop shop' for environmental approvals