Disparate approaches to strategic environmental assessment (SEA) in New South Wales (NSW), Australia and Scotland are compared. The first is fragmented and unfamiliar while the other is well established. A detailed analysis of the use of SEA in each jurisdiction follows a contextual evaluation of its purpose. Whereas the Scottish system is supported by recent regulation and policy, both NSW and the overriding Commonwealth Government follow haphazard actions with few if any settled methodologies. In order to improve its environmental assessment credentials and promote more sustainable development outcomes, NSW might consider the need for SEA more seriously. Investigation of other systems, such as that in Scotland, may assist.