Media Releases - 24 April 2020

National Campaigns Director, Amelia Young, responds to plans to rollback environment laws

A logging coupe in Victoria's Central Highlands. Image: Teresa Hu

Amelia Young, National Campaigns Director for the Wilderness Society, provides the following comments in response to Government plans to bring forward as yet unseen or undiscussed rollbacks to Australia's national environment laws. 

Amelia Young said: "A dangerous notion is being bandied about by conservative fringe groups that the Commonwealth Government could cut national environmental protections as a coronavirus economic stimulus measure. 

"For the government to consider such an idea would be vile. Weaker environmental protections and fast-tracked infrastructure approvals are not part of a safe and positive future for Australia as we recover from the coronavirus challenge. 

"During last summer’s tragic bushfires, there was quite a bit of empathy from some coalition MPs about the suffering and loss of wildlife. Many Government MPs met with our local membership groups and discussed the issue at length. These MPs well know that there is huge community support towards better protecting Australia’s natural environment. 

"The Commonwealth Government is going to have to do a hell of a lot more to win the community’s trust and prove that any changes to national environment law aren't just a blatant attempt to reduce already weak existing protections. 

“Despite the bushfires, despite the long-understood extinction crisis, the Commonwealth Government has failed to demonstrate any serious intent to strengthen legislative environmental protections as part of the EPBC review. 

"The Government-convened bushfire panel clearly indicated that preserving unburnt forest habitat is the single-most important policy response to save wildlife from extinction, but we've seen nothing from the Government about whether it is willing to do this.

"Through the renewed Victorian Regional Forest Agreements, the Commonwealth can conduct a Major Event Review and reel in the damage. Triggering a Major Event Review should be an urgent priority for the Commonwealth Government. But so far it is not clear when a Major Event Review will get underway. 

"Unburnt forests are being logged right now. If the Government wanted to demonstrate goodwill and intent prior to any EPBC legislative proposals, it would get a Major Event Review of logging in bushfire-affected forests underway without delay," Amelia concluded.

For more information or further comment please contact Tim Beshara, Federal Policy Director, on 0437 878 78