Parks Australia

Terms of Reference

The independent statutory review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) report by Professor Graeme Samuel highlights that legislative arrangements for the Director of National Parks (the Director) and the joint boards means that, ultimately, decisions are made by the Director. The Kakadu Board of Management’s vote of no confidence in the Director and senior staff directly involved in management of Kakadu National Park (July 2020) provides further evidence that the issues raised by Professor Samuel should be reviewed in more detail at the earliest opportunity.

The Minister for the Environment (the Minister) requires independent advice on the governance, structure and culture of the management of Commonwealth jointly managed National Parks. The focus of the Senior Advisory Group on Joint Management Arrangements for Commonwealth National Parks (the Group) will be to ensure Traditional Owners are front and centre of discussions and any outcomes related to future joint management arrangements.

Role of the Group

The role of the Group is to review and advise the Minister and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the Department) on the management of jointly managed Commonwealth National Parks, including but not limited to:

  • best practice contemporary models for the governance and operations of management of Kakadu National Park;
  • ensuring that the ecological protection of the parks and their continued improvement as tourist attractions remain inextricably linked to the Group’s primary considerations of improving joint management with Traditional Owners;
  • joint management arrangements, including barriers to effective joint management, for all three jointly managed Commonwealth National Parks;
  • the transition to Traditional Owners having more responsibility and control over management in the context of the Independent Review of the EPBC Act and other relevant reviews;
  • recommending practical reforms to improve the involvement of Traditional Owners in the management of jointly managed Commonwealth National Parks in both the short and longer-term – including the changes that need to be made to everyday practice to make sure people can work in genuine partnership; and
  • considering the statutory role of the Director and alternatives, including whether this is the most appropriate arrangement for the management of Commonwealth National Parks.

The Group’s considerations will complement and build on relevant recommendations from the Independent review of the EPBC Act.

Support for the operation of the Group will be provided by Parks Australia and the Department, including Secretariat support, travel and remuneration as appropriate. The Department will ensure the Group has access to a range of relevant expertise and knowledge, both internal and external, to assist with their considerations and preparation of advice.

The Group will provide its advice to the Minister and the Department within five months of its first meeting. Initially the Group will be established and operate for only this period.

Senior Advisory Group

  • The Hon. Amanda Vanstone AO (Co-chair)
  • Mr Joe Martin-Jard (Co-chair)
  • Ms Helen Williams AC
  • The Hon. Shane L Stone AC QC
  • Mr Nolan Hunter
  • Ms Denise Bowden.