SHUFFLING PAPER WONT SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT SO ENVIRONMENT GROUPS CALL FOR GOVERNMENT TO ABANDON PROPOSAL TO HAND POWER TO STATES
The Franklin River, The Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island, The Australian Alps.
These are just a few of the iconic places that would have been trashed by developments approved by State Governments had the Federal Government not had the power to intervene. Yet unbelievably, the Commonwealth recently announced its intention to cede this power to the States in an attempt to please big business.
The Government today released a ‘Draft Framework of Standards for Accreditation under the EPBC Act’, by which the Government hopes to ‘uphold environmental standards’ whilst delegating its powers to States and Territories, but environment groups agree that this is an impossible dream.
“History has shown us that state governments do not assess development proposals with the national interest in mind. States are inherently conflicted due to the benefits derived from the projects they are assessing and approving,” said James O’Connor CEO of BirdLife Australia. “States are much more likely to prioritise short-term profits and political interests over the environment, and they are hardly going to let a set of standards, such as those released today, get in the way,” he said.
Michael Kennedy, Director of Humane Society International agrees, “Even with the best intent these standards will formalise a system in Australia whereby the protection for the places and wildlife we all love will be stripped back to unacceptably low levels, putting those wanting to exploit our amazing places and wildlife in the driving seat,” said Mr Kennedy. “Handing over power, regardless of the paperwork involved, will set us back decades, wiping out the small environmental gains achieved to date, at a time when our wildlife and places need all the help and protection they can get, and must therefore be rejected.”
Polling undertaken last month for the Places You Love alliance showed that 85 per cent of Australians agree the Federal Government should be able to block or make changes to major projects that could damage the environment.
“The public has clearly indicated that they want the Federal Government to retain the right to stop developments that impact on our threatened wildlife, and not hand it over to State Governments. However at the behest of business they are blindly carrying on with no regard to public opinion,” said Mr Kennedy.
“Australians see the conflict of interest here and have seen time and time again why decisions that affect our most threatened species and most icon places need to be made at the federal level. The Federal Government must not abdicate itself from its important role in approving future projects under any conditions,” said Mr O’Connor.
The Places You Love alliance is calling for Government to abandon the proposals laid out by the Council of Australian Governments, and instead seek to introduce measures that result in an overall improvement in environmental protection, not huge backward steps.
The Draft Framework of Standards for Accreditation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 was released by the Federal Government today and is available at www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/accreditation-standards-framework.html
The Places You Love campaign alliance was founded by more than 30 organisations to inspire Australians to let the Australian Governments know they want to protect the laws that protect the places and wildlife they love. www.placesyoulove.org