Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘Like a pub without beer’: Govt’s new enviro protection agency must be backed by nature law overhaul

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SYDNEY, Tuesday 16 April 2024 — Greenpeace Australia Pacific has called on the federal government to urgently back up the establishment of the new environmental protection agency, Environment Protection Australia (EPA), with the promised overhaul of Australia’s broken national nature law.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek today announced that the federal government will establish two new agencies – the EPA and Environmental Information Australia – as a matter of priority, but failed to give clear timelines on the bigger promise to deliver a new and vastly improved national nature law.

The federal government committed to doing so this term in its Nature Positive Plan.

Glenn Walker, Head of Nature at Greenpeace Australia Pacific, said that in the face of a biodiversity and climate crisis, there was no time to lose in delivering a full and comprehensive package of reforms.

“Every single second, a native animal is killed from deforestation in Australia. Tens of thousands of hectares of koala habitat is bulldozed without environmental assessment each year. Weak laws and government inaction have made Australia a world leader in deforestation and biodiversity destruction. 

“The situation is urgent — there is simply no time to lose to save our forests and wildlife from the brink of extinction.

“We welcome the establishment of the new, properly resourced and independent EPA and in particular the Minister’s commitment to tackle rampant illegal deforestation. But the EPA will not have the teeth it needs until a strong national nature law also comes into place — forest destruction can also only be dealt with substantively with these legislative changes.

“It is also essential that the EPA is given powers to assess and reject large coal and gas projects where the climate impacts on nature are assessed as significant. Following the hottest year on record, it’s completely untenable that the existing nature law fails to allow this — another reason why it’s critical that the government gets on with the job of introducing the new nature law into parliament as soon as possible.

“What the government has announced today is a bit like a pub without beer — while the new institutions are welcome and important parts of the reform needed, the job is only finished when a strong and ambitious nature law is in place and environmental destruction is stopped.”

The announcement comes following confirmation today that the world is experiencing its fourth global coral bleaching event — the second in the last 10 years — with the Great Barrier Reef currently impacted by severe bleaching.

—ENDS—

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

Media contacts

Kimberley Bernard on 0407 581 404 or [email protected]

Kate O’Callaghan on 0406 231 892 or [email protected] 

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