Local Governments to take the reins on national decisions
Humane Society International (HSI) has condemned the introduction into Parliament today of amendments to Federal environmental legislation (the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014), notice of which was snuck in without warning on budget night.
HSI has very significant concerns over the content of the Bill around the handover of the so-called ‘water trigger’, which was previously negotiated to remain with the Commonwealth. What is even more concerning are so called ‘minor’ amendments which allow State and Territory Governments to authorise other people or organisations, such as Local Governments, to make critical decisions regarding Australia’s most important and often threatened places and species.
“The handover of environmental decision making to local governments would be nothing short of a national environmental disaster,” said HSI’s Alexia Wellbelove. “To have a local government making decisions on matters that have been recognised internationally for their immense conservation importance, such as World Heritage Areas or our most threatened wildlife, is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible.”
“The Commonwealth is clearly seeking to divest itself of its most important environmental responsibilities, retaining responsibility only for auditing, by which point it will be too late for those wild places and species that require our protection. HSI is calling on the Government to retract this Bill, and if this is not done for other political parties to vote for our wildlife and against what will be nationally damaging legislation,” concluded Ms Wellbelove.