School of Law
University of New England
2023 Kirby Seminar series

Monday 28 August 2023, 12pm (midday) AEST

Via Zoom or On-Campus at Lewis Seminar Room (Rm 30), EBL W38, School of Law UNE


Can new ‘Nature Positive’ laws deliver for climate

and nature in this critical decade?

Rachel Walmsley

Head of Policy & Law Reform, Environmental Defenders Office


If interested and to obtain a link, please register for this Kirby Seminar at

In this Kirby Seminar, Rachel Walmsley will discuss the Australian Government’s ‘Nature Positive Plan’ in the context of the once in a generation opportunity to make new national environment laws to effectively address climate and extinction crises. The December 2022 Nature Positive Plan responds to Professor Graeme Samuel’s review recommendations to modernise the outdated and ineffective Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). It sets out the government’s priorities for national nature law reform and outlines much-needed reforms: requirements for legally enforceable national environmental standards, establishing a new national environment protection authority (EPA), improving community participation and trust in environmental decision-making, engaging First Nations, and ensuring better understanding of climate impacts.

This Kirby seminar explores the imperative of translating the plan into new laws in this term of Parliament to ensure Australia is on track to meet 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, as well as no new extinctions and nature conservation and repair. Legislative drafting negotiations have commenced. Anew and ambitious legal landscape is needed to deliver the promised ‘nature positive’ outcomes. 

Rachel Walmsley Is Head of Policy and Law Reform at the Environmental Defenders Office. She is a member of government and non-government advisory committees on biodiversity, natural resource and environment issues, a legal advisor to the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, legal advisor to the Places You Love alliance on national law reform, and guest lectures in environmental law. Rachel was a member of the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) and is a member of IUCN – World Commission on Environmental Law. Rachel is a practising solicitor, with a Masters in Environmental Science and Law from University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Laws with Honours in international biodiversity law and a Bachelor of Arts from ANU.