ALP takes the correct legal road while the Coalition still set on environmental disaster
Sydney: As we slide nearer to D-day in the NSW state election, the NSW Liberal Government and the Coalition Government in Canberra continue to lead NSW and Australia as a whole down the dangerous path to environmental degradation.
This state election takes place against the back-drop of an ongoing Commonwealth Government plan to devolve all its national environment powers and responsibilities under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (EPBC Act) to the states and territories. This means that all Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES), including World Heritage places such as the Great Barrier Reef and threatened species such as the koala will become the sole responsibility of development-hungry states and territories. State governments will be able to both promote and make environmental decisions about their own development proposals without Commonwealth oversight, which would be an unmitigated disaster for communities and the environment.
Humane Society International (HSI) Director Michael Kennedy stated “Combined with moves by NSW (and all state and territory governments except Queensland) to weaken environmental protections across the board, the Federal Coalition’s planned abrogation of responsibilities is likely to set the evolution of environmental law in Australia back some 30 years. It is a situation from which our environment and life-giving ecological services may never recover destroying the ecological sustainable future that all Australian’s deserve.”
Mr Kennedy continued, “The current NSW Government has already signalled its intent to follow this disastrous path by repealing the Native Vegetation Act 2003, the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, parts of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1994, and facilitating the Commonwealth’s plan to devolve its Federal powers. These actions, if delivered by a re-elected Liberal Party, will result in the continuing and serious degradation of the state’s fast diminishing biological diversity.”
By contrast, the new Labor Government in Queensland has stated that, ‘The Commonwealth should retain responsibility for the approvals actions (under the EPBC Act) that may have an impact on Matters of National Environmental Significance’ (including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the protection of the environment from nuclear actions and the protection of water resources from CSG and mining). NSW Labor has followed suit.
Mr Kennedy concluded, “NSW ALP leader Luke Foley has also announced this week, ‘With respect to the environmental approval of major projects, NSW Labor believes the Commonwealth should retain responsibility for approval of actions which may impact Matters of National Environmental Significance.’ HSI congratulates Luke Foley for the ALP’s absolutely critical policy stance on this issue”.