RM Journal

Possum in the Headlights: An Audit of Australia’s Biodiversity Offsetting Conditions and Some Lessons for New Zealand

The Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment (DAWE) has just been grilled by the Australian National Audit Office (Report No 47 2019) (Audit) for its approach to managing biodiversity offsetting.

The Audit focused on assessment, approval, monitoring and enforcement of offset conditions attached to approvals for activities affecting matters of national environmental significance under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

New Zealand’s experience with biodiversity offsetting and environmental compensation has been variable.

With the use of offsets and compensation set to become formalised when the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biological Diversity (NPSIB) is released (likely April 2021), the Audit provides an opportunity to learn from Australia’s mistakes and avoid some of the most serious outcomes that result from poor exchanges and poor implementation (including non-compliance with consent conditions).

A New Zealand audit of current practice may also be warranted.

Authors: Sally Gepp (Barrister), Madeleine Wright (Senior Associate, Berry Simons), Dr Fleur Maseyk (Practice Leader – Conservation Science at The Catalyst Group), Dr Marie Doole (Practice Leader – Policy at The Catalyst Group)

Read: Possum in the Headlights: An Audit of Australia’s Biodiversity Offsetting Conditions and Some Lessons for New Zealand