News - 15 March 2022

Morrison Government attempts new plans to make it even easier for destructive developers to destroy habitat and landscapes

The Wilderness Society provides the following statement on Ministers Pitt and Ley’s media release regarding so-called regional development plans and the ‘streamlining’ of environment laws.

The Wilderness Society is deeply concerned about today’s announcement that the Coalition Government will pledge over $120 million with the apparent aim of circumventing environment protections for some of Australia’s most iconic and sensitive natural landscapes and wildlife.

“Given the Government's track record, we're concerned that this seems like yet another step towards granting an industry free-for-all than an effort to protect nature,” Suzanne Milthorpe, National Environment Law Manager for the Wilderness Society said.

“There have been twenty years of government reviews, audits and State of the Environment reports all saying the one thing: Australia’s wildlife and natural landscapes are being destroyed because our environment laws are being sidelined in favour of fossil fuel and developer interests.

“How much more habitat destruction and wildlife extinction do they want industry to cause?

“This new announcement is consistent with the continued attempts to get around the Parliament and effectively achieve bilateral agreements by stealth,” Ms Milthorpe said.

In 2020, the Morrison Government introduced two bills into the Australian Parliament to enable bilateral agreements with state governments that would have hand-balled federal environmental responsibilities to the states, but without necessary and vital safeguards for nature and communities.

After significant community and expert concerns about the Morrison Government's plan to circumvent vital environmental protections for wildlife and globally significant landscapes, the government's ill-thought out plans for bilateral agreements failed to pass through Parliament.

“30,000 experts, scientists and everyday Australians fed into last year’s independent review of Australia’s national environment laws, calling for urgent action to address Australia's spiralling extinction and climate crises.

“That review - headed by regulation expert Graeme Samuel - provided a sensible roadmap to protecting our unique and irreplaceable wildlife and iconic natural landscapes while providing certainty for business, and was supported by community, experts and much of Parliament.

“Yet again, the Government has chosen to ignore the experts, to ignore the community and to ignore the recommendations of their own handpicked reviewer to help developers, and their mates in the fossil fuel industry,” Ms Milthorpe said.