Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Harry Phillips


This study examines the effectiveness of the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), from its inception in 1971 to 1996. While environmental concerns have risen considerably in recent times, environmental awareness can be traced back to early historical beginnings. Yet, despite this initial awareness it took some time before environmental problems permeated the public consciousness, to occupy the political agenda. However, in the early 1970s, governments throughout the First World responded to research and heightened awareness of environmental concerns, with specific legislation to protect the environment. A common feature of the legislation, was the provision for a main administrative body with designated powers and responsibilities to assist in environmental management. Hence, this study undertakes a review of the environmental protection legislation in Western Australia, with specific concentration upon the EPA. This is done by evaluating the original Environmental Protection Act 1971 (EP Act), and its successor the 1986 EP Act. In addition, the significance of two sets of amendments to the main legislation, in 1980 and 1993, have been explored. This study found that the 1986 EP Act was the strongest environmental legislation enacted in Western Australia. It increased the power and influence of the EPA, which enhanced its ability to provide adequate environmental advice to government. However, the power and influence of the EPA appear to have been, restricted by the 1993 amendments. Moreover, a common trend emerged over the period studied, which indicated an ideological difference between the two major political parties concerning environmental legislation and the strength and independence of the EPA. Finally, the need for governments to adopt a long-term approach to environmental management is recommended.