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19 June 2013 - We have a legal water trigger but our national environmental future looks grim      


19 June 2013

Humane Society International (HSI) today welcomed the passage of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (EPBC  Act) amendment bill which brought into force a ninth matter of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act - a new ‘water trigger'.

Unfortunately, the passage of the Bill also marked the passing of a very critical opportunity to introduce an additional 'national parks trigger' under the Act, to help protect national parks from State Governments hell bent on grazing, logging, and shooting in our national parks.

"HSI is disappointed that the Federal Government has not listened to the community's call to introduce an amendment to help protect our national parks," said Michael Kennedy, HSI’s Campaign Director.

Even more crucially,” continued Mr Kennedy, “the amendments failed to remove clauses in the EPBC Act that would permit a future Coalition Government, should they win the election in September, to devolve essential Federal environment powers to the states and territories. This failure by our Federal politicians to take action for our most threatened places and wildlife is very, very disappointing, and potentially extremely damaging for Australia’s long-term environmental health.”

This failure means that powers to approve projects impacting on our unique places and wildlife can still be handed over to state and territory governments, which have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted.  As things stand Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is committed to handing back those powers, leaving conservative state governments to pursue their anti-environmental policies with impunity, leading to inevitable environmental disaster.

Mr Kennedy concluded, “Industry started the rot with its tall tales of project delays and environment assessment duplication, matters a Senate Inquiry loudly said there was no evidence to support (because of course there wasn’t any). But now they have finished the debate by continuing the lies despite a massive show of public support for strengthening the EPBC Act.  The environment and the public health of the people of Australia will surely suffer the results.”

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