Labor commitments to fund threatened species recovery and conservation work on the Great Barrier Reef is welcome, but an overhaul of national environment laws is what’s needed to stop the koala and other much-loved native animals from slipping towards extinction, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.
Federal Labor is promising $195 million for the Great Barrier Reef and $225 million for threatened species in a combination of new and previously announced funding.
“We welcome the funding for threatened species, but if we want koalas, gang-gang cockatoos and bogong moths to survive, we need strong environment laws and an independent regulator implemented in this next term of government,” said ACF’s nature program manager Basha Stasak.
“Nature faces a crisis. Australia is a world leader in mammal extinctions. A 2021 study found 19 Australian ecosystems, including the Murray-Darling river system, the Monaro Tablelands and northern Australia’s tropical savannahs, are at risk of collapse.
“Research conducted for ACF shows 95% of Australians agree it’s important to protect nature for future generations to enjoy.
“Any party wanting to form the next Australian government needs to implement the recommendations of Professor Graeme Samuel’s comprehensive review of our national environment law.
“The once-in-a-decade review of our environment laws by Professor Samuel sets out a clear roadmap to achieve this.
“Similarly, the funding for conservation work on the Great Barrier Reef is welcome, but let’s not kid ourselves that this is protecting the reef from climate change.
“Rapid global heating is whacking the reef through multiple regular coral bleaching events.
“Government scientists have confirmed that coral bleaching affected more than 90% of reefs surveyed along the Great Barrier Reef this year.
“Labor and the Coalition support ongoing coal and gas mining – this will further hit reefs.
“Money for restoration and resilience work is great; strong national environment laws and cutting emissions from coal and gas is critical.
“ACF welcomes Labor’s commitment to spend $100 million of the total reef funding on work with Indigenous rangers.”