Media Releases - 07 November 2019

Meeting of Environment Ministers must act on extinction

The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) are urging Environment Minister Sussan Ley to use Friday’s Meeting of Environment Ministers meeting to secure state government agreement on a national plan to address Australia’s spiralling extinction crisis. It is only the ninth such meeting since the coalition government axed the COAG-level Standing Council on Environment and Water and replaced it with a lower-level ad hoc meeting almost six years ago.

On Friday, in Adelaide, State and Commonwealth Environment Ministers are expected to sign off on “Australia’s Strategy for Nature 2018-2030”. The Strategy is supposed to coordinate government priorities, spending and actions to protect Australia’s native species and natural places.

National Environment Laws Campaign Manager for the Wilderness Society, Suzanne Milthorpe, said: “Even a problem as big as Australia’s spiralling extinction rate is fixable, but to fix it Australia needs all levels of government working together to drive real action on the ground.

“A draft version of Australia’s Strategy for Nature released in January last year lacked concrete targets and was woefully inadequate to deliver on the Federal Government’s obligation to protect our native species. Australia’s strategy for nature should be built on real cooperation and measurable actions that recover wildlife, not motherhood statements.

“We need a clear plan and practical actions to recover our species, and to fix the broken system of ineffective laws and declining funding that is pushing iconic species like the koala and the numbat to the brink,” Ms Milthorpe said.

ACF Nature Policy Analyst James Trezise said: “In the 20 years since Australia’s national environment laws have been operating, an area of threatened species habitat larger than the size of Tasmania has been destroyed. We need bold action and national leadership to address our growing extinction crisis.

“The consultation draft of the strategy was widely criticised in 2018. We hope governments have heeded the concerns of experts and the community and have put in place the bold targets, funding and commitments needed to drive action and ensure accountability.

“This strategy is the key mechanisms to deliver Australia’s international obligations to end extinction and halve deforestation. With new global nature targets being negotiated, the world will be paying close attention to the strength of our government’s plan to safeguard nature for future generations.” 

For further comment contact the Wilderness Society's National Nature Campaign Manager, Suzanne Milthorpe, on 0408 582 396.