The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed Senate amendments to remove biodiversity offsets from the Nature Repair bill and expand the water trigger in the national environment law to cover gas fracking.
The national environment group said the Albanese government still needs to deliver full environment law reform to tackle the extinction crisis.
“At best offsets are ineffective at protecting the diversity of nature in Australia, at worst they facilitate the destruction of irreplaceable habitat,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“Reliance on environmental offsets undermines nature protection, so ACF supports their exclusion from the Nature Repair legislation.
“Our national nature protection law absolutely should contain a water trigger that applies to unconventional gas and the environment minister should have responsibility to approve or reject proposals like the gas projects planned for the Beetaloo Basin.
“We welcome the cooperation between the Albanese government and the Greens that has led to the removal of offsets from the Nature Repair bill and the expansion of the water trigger in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
“Strengthening Australia’s national environment law is the main game.
“The government will need to collaborate across the parliament to strengthen Australia’s weak national environment law and stem the extinction crisis.
“Nearly 8 million hectares of threatened species habitat in Australia have been destroyed since 2000 and we have one of the world’s worst extinction rates.
“A lot of important wildlife habitat is on private land, so it makes sense for the government to encourage private land holders to preserve and protect biodiversity on their land.
“But nature repair markets are experimental and difficult to make work because nature is so diverse. The test of success will be whether it delivers real benefits for nature.
“All efforts must now go towards strengthening our national nature law. Otherwise, people in the future will not have the opportunity to see koalas, quolls and bilbies in the wild.”