Environment Act 1986

If you need more information about this Act, please contact the administering agency: Ministry for the Environment

Functions and powers

16 Functions of Commissioner


The functions of the Commissioner shall be—


with the objective of maintaining and improving the quality of the environment, to review from time to time the system of agencies and processes established by the Government to manage the allocation, use, and preservation of natural and physical resources, and to report the results of any such review to the House of Representatives and to such other bodies or persons as the Commissioner considers appropriate:


where the Commissioner considers it necessary, to investigate the effectiveness of environmental planning and environmental management carried out by public authorities, and advise them on any remedial action the Commissioner considers desirable:




investigate any matter in respect of which, in the Commissioner’s opinion, the environment may be or has been adversely affected, whether through natural causes or as a result of the acts or omissions of any person or body, to an extent which the Commissioner considers warrants investigation; and


advise, where necessary, the appropriate public authority and any other person or body the Commissioner thinks appropriate of the preventive measures or remedial action which the Commissioner considers should be taken; and


report the results of the investigation to the House of Representatives:


at the request of the House of Representatives or any select committee of the House of Representatives, to report to the House or committee on any petition, Bill, or other matter before the House or committee the subject matter of which may have a significant effect on the environment:


on the direction of the House of Representatives, to inquire into any matter that has had or may have a substantial and damaging effect on the environment, and to report the results of the inquiry to the House:


to undertake and encourage the collection and dissemination of information relating to the environment:


to encourage preventive measures and remedial actions for the protection of the environment.


For the purposes of any inquiry held under subsection (1)(e), the Commissioner shall have the same powers as are conferred on commissions of inquiry by section 4 and sections 4B to 9 of the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908; and those sections shall apply to all persons involved in any capacity in any such inquiry as if it were an inquiry conducted by a Commission under that Act.


The Commissioner shall have, in relation to any such inquiry, and any report on the results of the inquiry, the same immunities and privileges as are possessed by a District Court Judge in the exercise of the Judge’s civil jurisdiction.