THE NEWS IS NOT GOOD. THERE WILL BE NO PRESENTS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT THIS CHRISTMAS
Humane Society International (HSI) Director Michael Kennedy said today that, “This Christmas brings with it only a looming environmental crisis as the Coalition Government's new policies begin to bite with a vengeance. The Abbott Government has continued to move with indecent haste to devolve its development approval powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (EPBC Act) to money-hungry state and territory governments.”
All states and territories have now adopted the 'one-stop-shop' environmental approvals option, signing up at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra earlier this month. That the three remaining Labor states should sign up to such an environmental travesty is particularly alarming, given the Federal Labor Party has a policy directly opposing this move. Will the Labor states now join the environmental deregulation rush?
Mr Kennedy continued, “Prime Minister Abbott and Environment Minister Hunt are absolutely determined to see this disastrous policy through to the bitter end, despite the fact that their conservative state counterparts are already busily bludgeoning long-held environmental regulations to death.”
In 2012, an analysis of state and territory threatened species and planning legislation, undertaken by the Australian Network of Environmental Defenders Offices found that no state or territory's threatened species or planning laws met the suite of Federal environmental standards necessary to effectively protect the environment — and it is clear that they never will.
The New South Wales Government recently announced its new plan to save the states endangered species, via a dodgy prioritisation system and with no real resources attached - while at the same time planning to gut the states Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995. This is the same Government that has been trying very hard to strip the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) in NSW of all its grant monies.
“But where it failed, the Abbott Government has succeeded, immediately axing funds that keep alive EDO offices around the country – a staggering attack on the rights of the individual citizen and citizens groups seeking to help protect the environment. A simple Government strategy – kill tough environment laws - and then kill the public legal defenders that use them to protect the environment – all so that big industry can develop whatever they want and whenever they want,” said Mr Kennedy.
Mr Kennedy concluded, “While the states and territories continue to dismantle essential environmental regulations and Canberra continues to divest itself of its national powers and important leadership; dismantle hard won national climate changes programs and policies; bury the Great Barrier Reef under the weight of a mushrooming coal industry; scrap proposed management plans for the new national marine reserves system; and plans for a northern food bowl and more mega dams, to name but a few potential environmental calamities... could there be any Christmas presents to lighten the load? It would seem highly unlikely.”