Media Releases - 27 August 2020

Word-for-word Abbott-era environment Bill introduced to House

The Wilderness Society’s Suzanne Milthorpe provides the following comments on the introduction of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020 into Parliament today.

Suzanne Milthorpe said, “It’s hard to see how the Government introducing a Bill—much of which is word-for-word identical to Tony Abbott’s failed 2014 one-stop-shop amendments [see comparison]—isn’t a deliberate breaking of faith with the near 30,000 Australians who have engaged with the independent review of the EPBC Act. 

“By putting forward this amendment without proper environmental safeguards, the Morrison Government has shown that it isn’t listening to scientists, it isn’t looking at the evidence and has little interest in community concerns.

“We are looking for a sign, any sign at all that the Government is willing to improve Australia's environment legislation to better protect Australia’s unique and threatened species and we continue to be disappointed. We had all expected that this Bill would enshrine environmental standards before handing over powers to the states, but again the promised protections have not been delivered. 

“Every single time the Government has guaranteed deregulation now, with a vague promise of environmental improvements later. And the later has never come.  

“Seven years of coalition government, and four environment ministers later, the Morrison Government still hasn’t put forward a single substantive legislative proposal for how it will address the wildlife extinction crisis.

“Environmentally-minded members of the federal coalition must urgently find a way to demonstrate, with clear, concrete commitments that are quickly met, that their government’s agenda for Australia’s natural environment isn’t just to weaken protections. 

“We have a clearly evidenced species extinction crisis, our wildlife has been devastated by the most destructive bushfires on record, the Government’s own independent reviewer has said “the environment and our iconic places are in decline and under increasing threat” and still there is no sign that the Government is serious about doing anything about it. 

“We’re calling on the parliament to resist the government’s efforts to rush this bill through, and insist on a full package of reforms that will ensure our environment laws are enforced and effective at turning around Australia’s extinction crisis,” Suzanne concluded.

For further information contact Tim Beshara, Federal Policy Director on 0437878786