Species are threatened by major projects, not the other way around

MEDIA RELEASE for October 23, 2017:  Species are threatened by major projects, not the other way around

Peak environment group Queensland Conservation Council has responded to an extraordinary new report and media statement from the right-wing Institute of Public Affairs, which claims we should reduce our lists of threatened species, and undertake other radical steps around environmental laws.

The IPA claims that jobs and regional growth are hindered by laws that seek to protect Queensland’s and Australia’s threatened animals and plants, that having state and federal lists is unnecessary, and that we should create ‘more competition’ between states on environmental protection.

“The report and statement from the IPA are ill-informed and preposterous, and represent a thinly veiled attack on our endangered wildlife and vital environmental protections”, said Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig.

“The very reason we have more animals and plants on the threatened species lists is because major developments have encroached on their habitats and remaining areas.

“Current Federal environment laws in the form of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) have proved to be weak, ineffective and far more about facilitating development than protecting species.

“Of the thousands of major projects initiated in Australia since the passing of the EPBC Act, only 1,000 of them have been formally assessed under Federal laws.  About 10 (ten) projects have been rejected in that time. That is 1% of the projects assessed, much less of all projects.

“Federal environment laws and threatened species laws are intended to meet Australia’s commitment to the international Convention of Biological Diversity and other global treaties and agreements.

“We also have state species lists under state environment laws to supplement national laws because there can be differences between state responsibilities and international treaty obligations.

“Species such the koala in South East Queensland, listed under state law, are now at risk of becoming extinct in the wild.  This is the state’s faunal emblem, and but is in rapid decline because of unsustainable development and its consequences.

“Federal laws are actually silent on land clearing in Queensland, which leading conservation scientists have stated is the biggest threat to species and biodiversity in the state.

“There is no evidence that there is any real duplication, nor that any of threatened species lists or laws are actually working well in defending the environment or threatened species. In fact, they are failing which is why new species are being added and few taken off.

“The argument that we should manipulate these lists to bolster major development projects is unscientific and ridiculous, and ironically will lead to yet more listing of threatened species.”

For further comment contact:

Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183

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