News - 26 May 2022

Election reflections on nature and integrity

National Campaigns Director Amelia Young on the 2022 election result.

The shift across the country to independent and Greens candidates with strong commitments on climate and integrity in politics shows Australians expect real action on the environment. They expect politicians to deliver on their responsibilities and commitments.

Writ large, the election result shows communities won’t be taken for granted. They expect credible action on climate, and for trust and integrity to be hallmarks of how Australia is governed—especially when it comes to issues of gender equality, the environment, and the economy. I believe these are the criteria the community will judge the Albanese Government on in their first term.

Communities rightly want to be heard on environment decisions that affect us and our shared future—because protecting nature is central to a safe climate and a liveable planet. The combination of addressing and reversing the decline of nature, while rapidly reducing carbon pollution, is the pathway to an equitable, sustainable and prosperous future.

For many years, the Wilderness Society has advocated to fix Australia's broken environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. A strong and binding law that protects and restores nature can reverse the wildlife extinction crisis and drive down carbon pollution.

The effectiveness of this Act was recently reviewed, and the recommendations provide a clear roadmap for the new national government.

The independent, once-in-a-decade review of these laws was led by Prof Graeme Samuel. After much delay, the recommendations Samuel and his team drew up were finally released by the Morrison Government in 2021.

The review warned Australia’s environment laws are broken. (No wonder the koala was recently listed as Endangered.) It found fundamental reform of Australia’s environment law is needed to turn around the continent’s extinction crisis and safeguard globally-significant natural and cultural heritage. Thirty-eight recommendations to address these issues were tabled—which the Morrison government largely ignored and avoided.

But integrity in politics means committing to deliver the best outcomes for nature and communities.

Now Labor is in office, with a resounding number of independents and Greens on the crossbench and in the senate, we look forward to working with the new parliament to deliver on Labor’s commitments to respond to the Samuel review recommendations. These include strengthening nature laws and establishing an independent agency to enforce them, as well as “restoring trust and confidence in environmental decision-making”. We will be looking for strong standards that underpin new nature laws, and also for something to be done about the Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs), as recommended by Prof Samuel.

The election result shows communities expect action on the environment, and that they won’t stand by while their concerns are ignored.

The new national parliament must ensure it hears the community in environmental decisions to deliver better outcomes for climate, nature and people.

The chance to turn things around—for people and for nature—is before us, let’s get to work.

Community Rights

Find out how the Wilderness Society is working to ensure communities have a real voice when it comes to decisions that impact nature.