A key trio of crossbench senators are backing calls for an independent environment watchdog, presenting a roadblock for the Morrison government's current plans.
The federal government wants to shift its environmental protection decisions to the states, in a bid to prevent unnecessary red tape.
While this was a recommendation from a recent independent review of the legal framework, that inquiry also said there should also be a national environment watchdog and tougher standards.
Independent senators Rex Patrick, Stirling Griff and Jacqui Lambie say a watchdog and tougher standards must be stamped into law first.
"We need a genuinely independent national environment watchdog and strong national environmental standards to arrest and fix the overall state of decline and increasing threat to our environment," Senator Patrick tweeted on Monday.
The government's plans to shift its decisions to the states are currently before the Senate, but they don't have enough support to get over the line.
A recent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act found the laws were inadequate and complex. The once-in-a-decade review also described Australia's environmental trajectory as unsustainable.
The laws are front and centre of a new, separate review which has looked at the export of native birds for wildlife trade.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley called for the inquiry after a Guardian Australia report found hundreds of native and endangered parrots were exported to a German organisation despite fears they were being put on sale instead of exhibition.
Professional services company KPMG has on Monday released its report into what happened, finding that the policies and procedures were inadequate.
The company says it was provided with information that appears to be evidence birds were being offered for sale.
This information had not previously been provided to the department.
The report has recommended changes to how decisions are made, including by developing a stronger framework and having tougher rules for riskier applications.
"The complexity of the EPBC Act and its construction makes it difficult for the department to interpret and apply the act clearly and consistently," the report says.
"Key terms are either not clearly defined, or not understood, by departmental staff. There is confusion as to the meaning and application of important terms such as zoo and private zoo."
KPMG was not asked to look at whether criminal conduct occurred.
Australian Associated Press