In response to the release of Dr Wendy Craik’s report on the interaction between the agricultural sector and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) Nature Policy Analyst James Trezise said:
“The agriculture review was a highly politicised exercise that was precipitated by federal investigations into alleged destruction of grasslands in the Monaro region.
“The review finds only 2.7 per cent of referrals under the EPBC Act were for agriculture or related industries, demonstrating that the sector is seriously under-regulated by national law.
“Australia is suffering an extinction crisis. The review acknowledges biodiversity in Australia is in poor condition and is getting worse yet overlooks the role of national law in protecting biodiversity.
“Australia needs to grapple with the problem of the damage land clearing is doing to our country and our unique wildlife and work out how to protect critical habitats for threatened species.
“It is disappointing the review essentially proposes to politicise the listing of nationally threatened species by encouraging industry advice on listing decisions. Listing decisions should be based on the best available science.
“The proposal for a billion dollar fund to protect matters of national environmental significance is welcome.
“The Morrison Government should fund a program that protects biodiversity and rewards farmers and other land managers for sound environmental management.
“The design of such a fund will need to be carefully monitored to make sure it cannot be corrupted by politically well-connected project proponents.
“The collection and dissemination of solid environmental data is key if this process is to be credible.”