RFA dates and extensions

RFAs were signed between 1997 and 2001 on the basis of ‘Comprehensive Regional Assessments’ carried out in the 1990s. They were to remain in force for 20 years and are scheduled to expire between 2017 and 2021 (see table below).

Behind closed doors, governments are negotiating for native forest logging to be permanently exempt from Commonwealth environmental laws by extending RFAs indefinitely.

RFAs are supposedly subject to a performance review every five years with any proposed extension negotiated alongside the third five-year review. In the event, performance reviews have consistently been years late or not completed at all.

The process for extending the RFAs includes:

  • scoping agreement signed by the Commonwealth and each state
  • draft ‘review report’ for the third five-year period that the RFA is in force (i.e. covering years 10 to 15) published for comment
  • final ‘review report’ and recommendations published by an independent reviewer taking account of public comment on the draft
  • joint government response to the review report recommendations
  • negotation between the Commonwealth and the state, in secret, of amendments to the RFA including its extension

Each RFA state is at a different stage in the review and extension process but in all cases the third five-year reviews have been years overdue. In Tasmania for example the draft review report covering November 2007 to November 2012 (based on data up to June 2011) was not published until 2015, leaving the public in the ludicrous position of only being able to comment on events long in the past.  More recent information was out of scope.

RFA expiry dates

In February 2017 the East Gippsland RFA was extended to 27 March 2018 to align with the Central Highlands. In August 2017 a heavily-amended version of the Tasmanian RFA was extended to 2037 with an automatic extension every five years thereafter on satisfactory completion of each five year review.

StateRegionExpiry dateExtended to
TasTasmania8 November 20178 November 2037
VicEast Gippsland3 February 201731 March 2020
VicCentral Highlands27 March 201831 March 2020
VicNorth East23 August 201931 March 2020
VicGippsland31 March 202031 March 2020
VicWest31 March 202031 March 2020
WASouth West4 May 2019
NSWEden26 August 2019
NSWNorth East31 March 2020
NSWSouthern24 April 2021

Status of reviews in each state

Tasmania

DateThird five-year review
November 2012Due date for third 5 year review
November 2015Final review report published
September 2016Joint government reponse
August 2017RFA variation and extension signed

Victoria

The five Victorian RFAs are being reviewed together. The first and second five-year reviews were combined with the final review report submitted in April 2010 and the joint government response tabled in April 2015.

DateThird five-year review
February 2012Due date for East Gippsland third 5 year review
May 2016Scoping agreement for third 5year review signed
January 2017East Gippsland RFA extended to 27 March 2018 to align with the Central Highlands expiry
December 2017Five yearly review report for Victorian RFAs published (covering July 2009 to June 2014)
March 2018East Gippsland, Central Highlands and North-East RFAs extended to 31 March 2020, aligning with the scheduled expiry date of the Gippsland and Western RFAs
June 2018Reviewer's report for the third five year review (2009 --2014) tabled in the federal parliament together with the joint Victorian and Australian government response to its 14 recommendations

NSW

The three NSW RFAs are being reviewed together. The final review report for the first five-year review was submitted in November 2009 and the joint government response tabled in October 2014. The second and third five-year reviews are combined.

DateCombined second and third five year review
August 2014Due date for Eden third 5 year review
December 2016Scoping agreement for combined second and third 5 year review signed
December 2017Combined implementation report for 2nd and 3rd five year reviews published (covers July 2004 to June 2014)
June 2018Reviewer's report on the combined second and third 5 year review tabled in the Australian parliament, together with a joint statement from the NSW and Australian governments stating that the two government are preparing a formal joint response to the reviewer's 16 recommendations.

The governments also state that they have "committed to renew the NSW RFAs for a further twenty years and following extensive consultation, the agreements are now being finalised in close collaboration".
March 2018

Western Australia

The first and second five-year reviews were combined; the final review report was submitted in December 2013 and the joint government response tabled in February 2015.

DateThird five-year review
May 2014Due date for third 5 year review
January 2016Scoping agreement for third 5-year review signed
August 2017Review report and recommendations for the third five-year review published.

The WA and Australian governments should make a joint response to the reviewer's recommendations. That has not yet appeared.

More information

Commonwealth government RFA home page