Independence, governance collide in NSW EPA review

Is it divide and conquer as MPs seek to water down the EPA’s top job, or do statutory agencies need a cold dose of governance oversight? A NSW committee targets the chief environmental regulator.

Barry Buffier

Barry Buffier

The chief environmental regulator in New South Wales has too much power for a bureaucrat and the role must be split, a parliamentary committee has found following an eight-month inquiry. It also highlighted the importance for regulators to be timely and transparent in communication and engagement.

Barry Buffier is both chair and CEO of the Environment Protection Authority, dual hats the committee found “stands in contrast” to other heads of agencies in NSW, in which the CEO “participates as a member of the oversight board, but does not hold the position of chair”.

Executive performance management agreements should be made with a governance board — tricky when headed by the same person — instead of the environment minister as law currently stipulates, the inquiry recommended.

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