News - 15 March 2024

New analysis reveals shocking track record of federal nature law that favours coal mines over koalas

More than a dozen QLD environment groups called on the Albanese Government to stop nature destruction

Queensland nature groups have joined together to call on the Albanese Government to deliver strong nature laws by the end of this year as new analysis reveals close to 90% of projects in Queensland have been approved under federal nature laws since their inception.

A Queensland Conservation Council analysis of a public register of mining and housing development projects referred for assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) shows since the year 2000 there have been 1,821 projects referred and the vast majority have been approved. Only 3 have been ruled clearly unacceptable.

This clearly demonstrates the current law is flawed and facilitates destruction rather than protecting the environment.

More than a dozen environment and conservation groups from around Queensland today called on the Albanese Government to create strong new laws to stop the destruction and restore wildlife, land and seascapes, as they gather this week to discuss the biggest challenges for nature.

Queensland Conservation Council nature campaigner Natalie Frost said:

“Queensland’s nature is unique to both Australia and the world. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest, Lake Eyre Basin and the Simpson Desert, these places and the plants and animals that live there are special to all Australians.

“But federal nature laws are falling short of protecting the places we love with only 0.1% of projects referred for assessment under the Act rejected in Queensland.

“It’s clear the quarter-of-a-century old federal laws that are supposed to protect plants, animals and places that are significant to our nation are not working and Queensland’s nature in particular needs them fixed.

“Together, we have consistently pointed out the massive problems with our federal nature laws. Minister Plibersek has approved three Queensland coal mines under the EPBC Act, most recently the Gregory Crinum mine which impacts hundreds of hectares of threatened species habitat in Central Qld.”

Wilderness Society Queensland Campaigns Manager Hannah Schuch said:

“Australia is a deforestation hotspot and sadly, Queensland is leading the charge–putting koalas and the Great Barrier Reef on the path to extinction.

“Queenslanders expect new nature laws that actually stop the bulldozers. Stronger nature laws will give certainty to nature, communities and business. These changes are within Labor’s reach.

“As the most biodiverse state or territory in Australia, with over 1000 threatened species, Queensland is on the forefront of the extinction crisis.

“The Albanese Government risks missing this once in a generation opportunity to give Queensland’s world class nature the protection it deserves.”

Brisbane Residents United President Elizabeth Handley said:

It’s clear today that the community has the solutions to the biodiversity and climate crises. We need to be listened to and genuinely involved in decisions that affect us. Destructive industries come and go but local communities are left with the lasting impacts.

“Our community is concerned that what is being proposed by the Federal Government will fall short of what’s needed to protect our beloved koalas, greater gliders and eastern curlews from extinction.”

As groups representing Queensland communities and natural areas, we are calling for new federal laws that deliver a marked improvement for nature, including:

  1. Establish strong upfront protections for critical habitat and all listed species and ecological communities

  2. Create a fully-independent and appropriately resourced Environment Protection Agency

  3. Protect and recover species and habitats

  4. Rebuild public trust and confidence in environmental decision-making by enshrining community rights in environmental decision-making (including rights to information, participation and to challenge decisions, including merits review) and establishing fit for purpose data standards data

  5. Enshrine and respect First Nations cultural and self determination rights, including to free, prior and informed consent

  6. Limit the use of offsets and remove the option of paying to enable the destruction of threatened species and their habitat

  7. Prevent climate harm

  8. Ensure strong federal government leadership and adequate funding

The federal Government is currently consulting with stakeholders on different elements of the package of laws that is proposed to replace the 25-year-old EPBC Act.