Macquarie Law School Associate Lecturer and PhD candidate Mr Andrew Burke
Macquarie Law School Associate Lecturer and PhD candidate Mr Andrew Burke

Improving the sentencing of environmental crimes

Environmental crime, such as pollution or clearing native vegetation without approval, is a relatively new area of criminal law. It has unique characteristics which can lead to punishments that don’t fit the crime. An important question for governments around the world is how to design laws that target environmental crime effectively.

Macquarie Law School Associate Lecturer and PhD candidate Mr Andrew Burke researches how environmental crimes are sentenced in NSW, Australia and around the world. By identifying long-term patterns and by sharing lessons (or failures) from efforts in other countries, Andrew can assist both governments and the legal profession improve the effectiveness of environmental criminal law.

Andrew recently made a submission on the NSW government’s draft Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2016. This Bill will change how criminal offences of harming threatened species of plants and animals will be sentenced. Andrew’s submission suggested ways to amend the Bill to ensure that punishments fit the crime. Andrew studied twelve years of sentencing of threatened species offences in the Land and Environment Court of NSW and based his submission on the information he discovered.