Sunday, June 23, 2024

‘Don’t bow to mining lobby’: Leading environment orgs urge swift action on national nature law reform

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Australia’s largest environmental organisations have urged the federal government to drive forward ambitious reforms to the national nature law this term amidst reports of backlash from the mining industry.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific and the Australian Conservation Foundation have urged the Albanese government to forge ahead with ambitious reforms to the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) following media reports that industry groups, particularly the mining lobby in Western Australia, are galvanising behind a campaign to ‘slow down’ the process and to carve up the package of reforms.

The federal government is currently undergoing a once-in-a-generation overhaul of the EPBC, which was designed over two decades ago. An independent review in 2020 concluded that the national nature law is not fit-for-purpose, outdated, and in need of fundamental reform to reverse the downward trajectory of environmental decline.

Glenn Walker, Head of Nature at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said that in the face of a climate and biodiversity crisis, industry pressure must not impede the rollout of these much-needed reforms.

“We’re deeply concerned by reports that the mining lobby is attempting to slow down the delivery of these critically important reforms to our national nature law.

“Australia is a world leader in mammal extinctions and the only OECD country on a global list of deforestation hotspots — we simply do not have time for more stalling tactics and hot air from the mining industry, who have a long history of blocking progress on climate and enviromental protection, and greenwashing their polluting operations.

“Establishing a new, strong national nature law is an exciting opportunity for the federal government to deliver on its election promise to protect our environment — we urge Minister Plibersek to stand firm and move forward with the ambitious reforms needed to protect our unique wildlife and places from rampant destruction.”  

Brendan Sydes, National Biodiversity Policy Adviser at the Australian Conservation Foundation, said further delays to EPBC reform would mean more destruction of irreplaceable wildlife habitat.

“It is more than three years since Professor Graeme Samuel delivered his comprehensive and scathing review of Australia’s environment law to the Morrison Government and nearly two years since the most recent State of the Environment report laid bare the dire state of nature in Australia.

“The Albanese government came to office in May 2022 with a commitment to reform this law. 

“Everyone agrees the existing environment law is broken. Nearly 8 million hectares of threatened species habitat in Australia has been bulldozed, logged and cleared since the law came into effect in 2000 and recent ACF investigations show this destruction is continuing.

“Habitat destruction is a leading cause of extinction in Australia, directly contributing to the listing of 60% of Australia’s threatened species. 

“With her announcement that she intends to refuse approval of Walker Corporation’s wetland-wrecking Toondah Harbour marina, retail and apartment complex, Minister Plibersek has shown she is prepared to stand up for threatened species and natural places against those who seek to profit from their destruction.  

“She needs to stand up to the mining lobby and other interests that seek to delay and weaken urgently needed improvements to Australian environment law.”

—ENDS—

High res images and footage of recent deforestation can be found here and here

Media contacts

Kate O’Callaghan, Greenpeace Australia Pacific on 0406 231 892 or [email protected]

Josh Meadows, Australian Conservation Foundation on 0439 342 992 or [email protected] 

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