ALP’s new environment laws & EPA need clear goals to stem Australia’s nature crisis

  • Australia also needs a national environment commission to set policy long-term
  • Australia has lost 40% of its forests while half Great Barrier Reef lost in 30 years
  • Wilderness Society to launch national campaign early next year, in Adelaide for comment

The Labor Party has endorsed a forward-looking environment policy platform at today’s national conference that commits it to new national environment laws and a Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority within its first term if elected to government next year, but the platform needs clear goals and financial resources.

“The Labor Party’s platform of new environment laws and Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority is welcome but needs clear goals and the financial resources required to address Australia’s escalating environmental woes, including the extinction and deforestation crises,” said Wilderness Society National Director Lyndon Schneiders.

“Labor’s failure to establish a national environment commission is a setback to the development of clear environmental targets and goals against which the effectiveness of the promised new laws can be judged.

“Communities need strong new laws that actually protect the environment and their communities and an independent Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority to enforce those laws. Labor’s platform embraces that but new laws will not work without strong and clear commitments to stop extinctions, end deforestation and protect the places we all love.

“Australia has the worst global record for extinctions and is a global hotspot for deforestation. Australia continues to consider opening up new fossil fuel basins for mining, including in the Great Australian Bight.

“The Wilderness Society will spearhead a national campaign early next year to provide a voice to hundreds of thousands of Australians desperate for a real plan and vision to protect the environment in the lead up to next year's election.

“The Wilderness Society congratulates the Labor Environment Action Network (LEAN) for its grassroots campaign, endorsed by 500 ALP branches, to bring the policy to the conference.

“Australia is in the midst of an environmental crisis. Greedy corporations have taken advantage of weak environment laws to destroy our extraordinary forests and wildlife.

“The places and experiences we love may not be there for our kids. The Great Barrier Reef is under threat, iconic animals such as the koala are headed for extinction, Australia has shockingly high rates of deforestation and coal and fracking companies take our water for free when the country is in drought.

“We have lost 40 percent of our forests and more than half of the Great Barrier Reef coral has been lost in just the past 30 years.

“Millions of hectares of Australian bushland and forest have been destroyed just this century along with millions of native animals killed.

“Australia is in the grips of an extinction epidemic. We have the worst mammal extinction rate on the planet and it’s only getting worse. We are also the second worst in the world for biodiversity loss, only beaten by Indonesia.

“Australia is a top-10 global deforestation hotspot, alongside the likes of the Amazon, the Congo and Indonesia. Australia is losing about 600,000 hectares of forest and bushland a year to logging and clearing; that’s an area the size of the MCG wiped out every 2 minutes.

“Just this century, 7.6 million hectares of threatened species habitat, an area larger than the size of Tasmania, has been destroyed.”



Contact

For further comment from the ALP national conference in Adelaide, please contact:

  • Wilderness Society National Director Lyndon Schneiders on 0451 633 200
  • Wilderness Society Nature Campaign Manager Suzanne Milthorpe on 0408 582 396

For more information, contact Wilderness Society Media Adviser Alex Tibbitts on 0416 420 168.