Keywords: environment, government, law, legislation, policy, Australia
Environmental law and policy in Australia
The legal structure of resource use in Australia is not conducive to rational policy-making. The authority to manage resides with the states, which have enabled extensive parochial development of natural resources at the expense of resource rents and environmental quality. This has been achieved with administrative-type legislation, at the expense of common law adjudication. This decentralised structure is complex but has no inherent coordination or direction to achieve any satisfactory resolution. Where the Federal Government does not have direct legislative authority for initiatives in the national interest, recent High Court decisions - particularly the Franklin Dam case - clarify that the Federal Government does possess the basis of initiative for conserving the environment.