Sign the open letter
This federal election, let’s change the laws of nature
We can secure strong new national laws that actually protect the environment.
We live in a truly special country. About 10% of all the world’s plants & species are found in Australia & much of our stunning wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. But vested interests are riding roughshod over communities to damage our environment & health. They are taking advantage of weak laws, overseen by captured governments, to trash our oceans, forests, wildlife & climate.
Together we can change this and give power back to communities. The federal election provides a big opportunity to secure strong new national nature laws that work and an independent watchdog to enforce the laws.
Vested interests are destroying nature
At the heart of the problem is this: our national environment laws are not currently working to protect the environment.
They are there to help big corporations get developments approved. They don’t even mention or deal with the escalating problem of climate change. Almost all projects (99.7%) assessed by the Federal Government get rubber-stamped, with just 2% knocked back by the courts.
Nothing is off-limits for destruction. Old-growth forests are being bulldozed and logged. Oil drilling threatens the pristine waters of the Great Australian Bight. Projects that clear the habitats of critically-endangered wildlife are rubber-stamped and species are going extinct with no-one taking action to stop it. Vital water catchments are being mined and drained by big businesses with communities powerless to protect their environment.
How Australian laws have failed nature—and you
Australia’s forests, waterways and wildlife are now in crisis—and once they’re gone, they're gone forever. Consider these facts:
- Deforestation rates in Australia are now up there with the destruction of the Amazon which kills wildlife and impacts air and water quality in all communities.
- Old growth forests and homes to endangered species are still being clear-felled for woodchips. In fact, 48 of our forest fauna species are threatened by logging in Australia. Read our new report, Abandoned: Australia’s forest wildlife in crisis.
- Climate change is wreaking havoc on our river systems, water supplies, forests and the Great Barrier Reef.
- Australia has the one of the worst rates of species extinction on the planet yet the government keeps turning a blind eye to their continued destruction and it refuses to act to help bring them back from the brink.
- River pollution and over-extraction of water is decimating our water supplies and natural assets like the Murray-Darling and the Great Barrier Reef.
- The opening up of huge new polluting coal, gas and oil mines threatens the health and livelihoods of local communities and continues to worsen climate change.
We need to secure a real future for the native wildlife we care about and protect the forests and landscapes they live in, with cleaner air, more resilient soils, healthy oceans and a climate we can rely on. We need to properly protect and restore our environment so Australia can be resilient in the face of climate change.
To truly protect and restore Australia’s nature, we need a new Australian Environment Act that commits the Australian Government to end deforestation of old-growth forests and critical habitat for endangered animals, to end extinction and to protect our vital waterways and catchments.
We need a National Environment Commission that can be a independent voice for the environment and lead a national approach to planning for the future. The Commission will develop National Environment Plans so we’re all working to the same goals, and set binding clear national plans and standards so businesses and communities aren’t dealing with unclear, inconsistent regulation.
We need an independent National Environmental Protection Authority to enforce the law, without political interference, and to ensure that damaging projects are assessed independently by experts, not decided on through back room deals with paid lobbyists.
We need to give power back to communities by guaranteeing community legal rights to ensure that environment laws are enforced fairly and transparently, to have decisions reviewed on the basis of their merits and to ensure all communities have a say in decision-making.
- Secure a strong 2019 Federal Election outcome via political pressure on each party to commit to create new nature laws and institutions that actually work.
- Undertake research and investigations to expose the crisis in the media
- Communicate the challenge through bold, targeted advertising to get key audiences on board with our push for new nature laws and institutions.
- Play active leadership role with the Places You Love Alliance, made up of 54 environmental organisations with a combined 1.5 million supporters, to activate audiences for reform
- Build a movement of people for change by inspiring, recruiting, training and supporting experts and volunteers.
- Have an emphasis on engaging and communicating with centrist voters.
- Hold governments accountable to make sure that the new national plans and standards are enacted, enforced and funded to guarantee high-level outcomes.
What success looks like
- Zero destruction of primary, remnant, old growth or high conservation value forests and bushland.
- At least fifty percent (50%) reduction in current land clearing rates of regrowth vegetation by 2020, near zero by 2025.
- No more fauna or flora extinctions.
- Measurable recovery of numbers or extent and quality of threatened, endangered and critically endangered species and ecosystems.
- Measurable recovery of freshwater ecosystems, including the Murray-Darling Basin.
- Measurable recovery of large, intact and functioning ecosystems (wilderness areas);
- Twenty percent (20%) of every terrestrial and marine bioregion in Australia are protected in a nationally coordinated and consistent system of conservation agreements.
- Federal Government leads the country in ensuring environmental indicators improve.
- Environmental regulation, planning and decision making independent from political parties. These are adequately resourced to achieve outcomes, conducted transparently and fully enforced.
- Community has legislated right to open standing, merits review and third-party enforcement rights under national environmental laws.
- Community and NGO sector have access to consistent, regularly updated and reliable government data on environmental values and greenhouse gas reporting on disaggregated by sector and between sequestration and emissions.
Where the political parties stand & supporting facts
Check out our assessment of where the major parties stand on this issue and supporting facts verifying claims on this page and public claims made in this campaign.