Functions & powers
These functions are drawn from the Environment Act 1986 (S.16), and the Commissioner has wide discretion to exercise them. They include:
Review the system of agencies and processes set up by the Government to manage the country's resources, and report to the House of Representatives
Investigate the effectiveness of environmental planning and management by public authorities, and advise them on remedial action
Investigate any matter where the environment may be or has been adversely affected, advise on preventative measures or remedial action, and report to the House
Report, on a request from the House or any select committee, on any petition, Bill, or any other matter which may have a significant effect on the environment
Inquire, on the direction of the House, into any matter that has had or may have a substantial and damaging effect on the environment
Undertake and encourage the collection and dissemination of information about the environment
Encourage preventive measures and remedial actions to protect the environment.
Under the Environment Act 1986, the Commissioner has strong powers to obtain information.
The Commissioner can request information that is not publically available from any organisation or person.
If the information is not provided, the Commissioner can summon people to be examined under oath.
This power to obtain information is accompanied by a duty of secrecy.
The Commissioner will only disclose the information obtained if she judges it necessary for carrying out her functions.
The Commissioner often makes recommendations in her reports, but cannot require their implementation.