Labor's announcement is a positive start towards fixing our broken environment laws and restoring our national environment budget, but more investment is needed to truly restore our natural world.
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has welcomed Labor’s election pledge to establish new stronger environment laws and a national Environment Protection Authority (EPA), although more detail is needed to ensure the regime will not be subverted by undue interference.
ACF’s Nature Program Manager, Basha Stasak, said business as usual was no longer an option for our faltering natural world and while Labor’s environment policy announced Saturday represented a positive start in tackling this crisis, greater investment will be needed to stop Australia’s extinction crisis.
But Ms Stasak said there were many welcome elements of the Labor package, including law reform and modest reinvestment in threatened species recovery
“Today’s announcement from Labor is a positive start towards fixing our broken environment laws and restoring our national environment budget, but it is clear more investment is needed to truly restore our natural world,” Ms Stasak said.
“Since our current national environment laws came into force more than 7.4 million hectares of threatened species habitat, an area larger than the state of Tasmania, has been destroyed.
“Australia is suffering a species extinction crisis. In the last decade three native species have been wiped out and scientists predict 17 animals could go extinct in the next 20 years.
“New federal environment laws must include provisions to protect critical habitat for our threatened species, end deforestation and tackle climate pollution. They must ensure project approvals are made free from undue influence and everyday Australians can access justice.
“A truly national EPA will also need more than $50 million to protect the environment and make sure big business is complying with the law.
“The $100 million commitment to save native wildlife is welcome as we know threatened species recovery teams are screaming out for funding to turn plans into action. We also know it will take close to $200 million per year to implement every recovery action.
“To put this funding commitment into perspective, since the Coalition Government came to power in 2013 the federal environment budget has been slashed by 38 per cent, representing a $533 million cut to the annual environment budget by 2022.
“Labor’s package, including the promise of new nature laws and a federal EPA, represents a major advance on what the Coalition offered in its environment package on Friday, but the key test for all political parties is whether they can halt our wildlife and ecosystems from disappearing before it is too late.”