The draft report of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act audit has been released and is open for public comment until August 17th.
Yesterday’s press conference (not televised because the PM was conveniently speaking at the same time….) was the therapy session I didn’t know I needed. It was a relief to hear Prof Samuel say the EPBC Act is ‘ineffective’ and ‘insufficient’, it does not address current or future environmental challenges, it doesn’t value indigenous heritage and needs an independent regulator. He said databases are incomplete, inaccessible and outdated. He said the government has simply stopped listing major environmental threats, that available habitat needs to grow and restoration is required. He didn’t stop there either. FIND THE REPORT SUMMARY HERE
It was then very disheartening, but sadly unsurprising to hear the environment minister Sussan Ley spinning this into an opportunity to streamline development applications. There will be no independent regulator. All suggestions on leveraging the carbon market to benefit biodiversity were dismissed. The government will meeting with indigenous leaders and develop new environmental standards but will also transfer more powers to the states (because clearly threatened species recognise state borders). You have to look at anything this government does that seemingly benefits the environment and ask ‘what’s in it for them?’.
Minister Ley announced that the government plans to push these changes through in August before the final audit report is released in October. We’ve waiting 20 years for this and suddenly the government is in a rush to push a very specific selection of reforms?
Parliament in Australia is still not sitting because of COVID19 and hasn’t worked out how to sit online yet. So the next time they meet, scheduled for August, they will rush through these changes to the EPBC Act? In seemingly unrelated news - to restart the economy post COVID19 (which they still insist is a thing, like it’s going to magically vanish one day) the government has released a ‘JobTrainer’ package. To push people into priority industries, such as mining and construction. Now who do you think would benefit from streamlined development applications and no independent regulator? Certainly not the environment.
If you like to listen to podcasts this is a good one talking on the EPBC Act review but also the recent controversy with Vic Forests and generally explaining environmental protections in Australia.
Finally if you have made it this far - please check out the report and submit comments before August 17th 2020.