Commonwealth starts on the disastrous road of divesting itself of national environmental responsibility
Humane Society International (HSI) Director Michael Kennedy said today that “Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has started a process of divesting Commonwealth powers to the states and territories, by seeking to off-load flying fox management problems.”
Mr Kennedy continued “In pursuing the COAG agreed, and Business Council of Australia promoted devolution of environmental powers to the states, the Minister is offering state and territory governments a free hand in managing this highly threatened and EPBC Act (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999) listed species, knowing full well that the states have little sympathy when it comes to protecting grey-headed flying fox colonies.”
In a letter written to all state and territory Ministers responsible for environmental protection in May, the Commonwealth Minister makes it clear that he also has little sympathy for this vulnerable species. The Minister noted that “Since I took on the role of Environment Minister, delays in dealing with flying foxes have been a source of great frustration…………Delays in processing or failures to make applications in time can have disastrous impacts on communities.”
Mr Kennedy said that “The Minister is misguided if he thinks that the states and territories can be trusted to properly protect a threatened, much persecuted, and diminishing species such as the grey-headed flying fox. The states have proved on a number of occasions to be completely insensitive to the proper management and conservation of this animal, responding instead to suburban and rural community hysteria, and ever too happy to take the politically expedient route – killing flying foxes”.
Over the last decade, Humane Society International has been more than willing to test the decisions of Commonwealth and state ministers in the courts, while financially supporting other legal challenges on behalf of much maligned flying foxes, and will continue to take every opportunity to do so.
Mr Kennedy concluded “The Prime Minister must not give away all the Commonwealth’s crucial responsibilities under the EPBC Act (and a range of international treaties) to the states and territories. It amounts to the worst environmental vandalism that this country has seen in the modern era.”