Sussan Ley is pushing ahead with environment laws intended to speed up approvals and investment, despite creating division in the community.
"Make no mistake, if we do not get the process moving it will end up hurting both the environment and the economy," the environment minister told the National Press Club on Wednesday.
"I am determined to push ahead with that change."
But there will be a phased plan, starting with the new approval process and then the development of environmental standards.
The proposed laws introduced to parliament in February aim to set up a simpler approval process for mining and agriculture, underpinned by a new set of national environment standards.
Under the so-called single-touch system, the federal government would be able to devolve decisions to states and territories on the environmental impact of major projects.
Critics fear the consequences, but a new commissioner would be appointed to monitor and audit the program.
A federal parliamentary review of the proposed environmental standards has made little progress on a compromise.
Labor, the Greens and independent senators want the proposed laws scrapped, seeking a "tough cop on the beat" to restore trust and improve environmental standards.
Some government backbenchers want to shorten the review period for the new environmental standards to make sure the new regime works as intended.
"I'm working very hard with the crossbench," Ms Ley said.
But she says the interim standards are "not negotiable" and must become law before any review can occur.
"Unless we pass the bills that are in the parliament now and start implementing bilaterals before the end of the year, we will fall behind on environmental protections."
On better protections for Indigenous heritage after Rio Tinto's Juukan Gorge catastrophe, Ms Ley said states were reviewing laws and would take the lead.
"We can't fix it all from the Commonwealth level, but I want to do more."
The minister has sought reassurances from Trade Minister Dan Tehan about a new deal with the UK.
She said Australia was not in any danger of effectively paying a carbon tax to other governments.
"The environment chapter of the free trade agreement doesn't require us to be doing anything more than we are doing now," she said.
The minister also put the solar panel industry on notice over a potential "landfill nightmare", calling for the sector to step up on recycling.
Australian Associated Press