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This election is happening in the face of an extinction crisis. For Australia to have a sustainable future this crisis must be taken seriously by whoever forms the next government.
Unconstrained by weak laws, our political leaders have allowed an environmental catastrophe to unfold over many years to the point where even our beloved koala is at risk.
Whoever wins the federal election this weekend, it must be an urgent reset. Stronger environment laws are key.
Humane Society International has called for laws that actually protect nature including:
- Strong National Environmental Standards that prevent habitat destruction
- An independent regulator for compliance and enforcement
- An independent National Environment Commission
- $2 billion investment a year for threatened species habitat and ecosystem recovery
- Access to justice and third-party enforcement for the community and respect for First Nations rights, knowledge and culture
Today Labor has re-committed to consultation on environmental law reform and establishing an independent Environment Protection Agency that would have a division for compliance and assurance and a division for environmental data, information and analysis. They have also announced a Saving Native Species Program including a national koala conservation strategy with an investment of $224.5 million to help arrest species decline and restore populations and help clear the backlog of overdue recovery plans.
Recognising that 2000 species are at threat of extinction, the Greens have set a goal of zero extinctions by investing $24.4 billion over the next decade, including by restoring wildlife habitat. They have said they will protect our natural environment and wildlife from land clearing, pollution and destruction by strengthening Environment Protection Laws and creating an independent Watchdog to enforce them.
The Animal Justice Party has committed to new federal environmental laws which adequately deal with climate change, land clearing and other crucial issues and establish a Commonwealth Environment Commission (CEC) and a Commonwealth Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) with increased citizen participation in environmental decisions, especially community groups and environmental protection organisations, and enshrine their ability to litigate on behalf of nature.
The Liberal National Coalition says it will continue trying to reform national environmental protection laws to ensure they remain fit for purpose and facilitate greater business certainty and investments including in the mining and agricultural sectors. They say their goal is economic growth while protecting our iconic native plants and animals and have released a recovery plan for the koala with $53 million in funding. They are committed to a Threatened Species Strategy for 100 priority species. They have not provided a full response to the report from Professor Samuel which recommended a host of improvements to the EPBC Act with strong national standards as its foundation. To date they have only attempted to pass bills which would actually weaken our environmental protections.
There are also a large number of independents and smaller parties at this election who could play a powerful role in a new parliament. HSI encourages voters to look up the environmental and climate policies for all of their local candidates.
In summing up, HSI says an independent Environment Protection Agency to enforce the law and to improve the data that informs decision making are essential, much needed reforms. So too must be strong new National Environmental Standards to put a stop to bad decision making. There must also be a quantum leap in investment in species and ecosystem recovery, and scientists have put the figure required at $2 billion a year.
You can also look up all of the parties and candidates’ animal welfare policies at https://www.allianceforanimals.org.au/federal-election-2022
Whoever forms the next Australian government, HSI commits to our supporters that we will work tirelessly to hold them to account to securing a better future for animals and their environment. After all, whether people realise it or not, the environment is everyone’s bottom line.