Australia needs a new Environment Act that is designed to halt the extinction crisis and an independent authority to implement a strengthened national environment law, the Australian Conservation Foundation said.
Plans for a new Environment Act and an independent body to oversee and enforce it are part of a policy announced today by the Greens.
“Australia’s present environment law gives the Minister too much discretion to choose the interests of big polluters over the interests of the Australian community,” said ACF’s campaigns director Paul Sinclair.
“Australia should have stronger laws that genuinely protect our reefs, rivers, forests and wildlife – and an independent national regulator to enforce those laws.
“Fair and open judicial processes are a critical element of our democracy – the Turnbull Government’s plans to limit the rights of communities to contest approval decisions made by Greg Hunt directly threaten this democratic pillar.
“The Greens policy on environmental democracy and its commitment to resource Environmental Defenders Officers will enable communities to hold government decision makers to account based on the merits of their decisions.
“ACF strongly supports the Greens’ proposals to get rid of Regional Forest Agreements, stop damaging land clearing and urgently protect critical habitats for endangered species, like the core remaining habitat of the black-throated finch, which is under direct threat from Adani’s planned Carmichael coal mine in central Queensland.
“We welcome the Greens’ support for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and carp control.
“The commitment of $122 million over the forward estimates to properly fund the work of the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is needed to ensure the benefits of the Basin Plan are realised.
“ACF commends the Greens for having a clear policy that recognises and supports Indigenous water rights and the allocation of water for cultural flows.”