News - 29 October 2019
Review a chance to turn the corner on extinction
The Wilderness Society is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Environment Minister Sussan Ley to put native species at the heart of their review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The Wilderness Society welcomes the appointment of Professor Graeme Samuel AC as the Independent Reviewer and an expert panel that includes many years of expertise in effective regulation. However, we are concerned with the lack of depth on the Independent Panel regarding knowledge in Australian ecology or with a track record in saving endangered species.
National Environment Laws Campaign Manager for the Wilderness Society, Suzanne Milthorpe, says: “There is one clear practical test of whether our environmental laws are successful: can we protect our wildlife and end the major threats to their survival? Right now we can’t.
“The responsibility rests with Scott Morrison and Sussan Ley to use this review of Australia’s nature conservation laws to turnaround our lamentable record of species loss and environmental decline.
“The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act was established under a Coalition Government 20 years ago and it has been administered by a Liberal Environment Minister for 14 of the 20 years it has been in place.
“Every single State of Environment Report released throughout this time has shown that our environment continues to decline and this is especially the case with our native wildlife.
“Scott Morrison spoke at the United Nations on how his Government would take real action and develop practical policies to protect the environment. The most practical policy Scott Morrison could introduce would be to have an effective environment law that protects habitat and ensures plans to save our species are carried out.
"If Scott Morrison is being straight-up about his practical solutions then he has to engage with the reality of what is happening to Australia's environment and fix this Act.
“The Wilderness Society welcomes the appointment of Professor Graeme Samuel AC as the Independent Reviewer and an expert panel that includes many years of expertise in effective regulation. Part of the failure of the Act to date has been the unwillingness of the government to act as an effective regulator when the law has been clearly broken. A distinguished regulator such as Mr Samuels will be able to see how the lack of enforcement is undermining the ability for the practical action to improve our environment.
“However, the Act must be shaped by what’s happening on the ground. It’s not a review about abstract concepts, it’s about the declining state of nature. We are concerned that the Government has overlooked the vast level of scientific and practical conservation experience available by not appointing ecologists or conservation practitioners to the expert panel.”
“Fixing our broken laws is top priority for Wilderness Society, along with the Places You Love Alliance, because we know this is a fixable problem. There is a solution. We need strong laws that protect wildlife habitat from major threats, like deforestation, and the funding needed to recover the many native species that are teetering on the brink”, Ms Milthorpe concluded.
For further comment contact Suzanne Milthorpe on 0408 582 396.