Queensland's natural environment will benefit if root-and-branch reform of the nation’s federal environment laws remains consistent with the goal of ending extinctions.
Yesterday's targeted consultation on the long-awaited Nature Positive law reform is the first of a number, as the Federal Government works to finalise laws that can deliver on Tanya Plibersek's courageous promise to end extinctions in Australia.
Queensland Conservation Council, the state's peak environment body, welcomed measures including the commitment to nature-positive outcomes in decision-making and a stronger independent Environmental Protection Agency, but flagged the risk of laws being watered down, with proposed community enforcement rights to ensure federal laws not in the draft.
Dave Copeman, Director of Queensland Conservation Council, said:
"These laws are a once in a generation chance to fix our broken nature laws. The Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act is meant to protect biodiversity, but Queensland’s koalas, gliders, white-throated snapping turtles, elegant frogs, yakka skinks and gouldian finches are on the brink of extinction
The results are clear, our current laws are fundamentally failing, and projects that put the animals we love at risk keep getting approved.
"It's early days in this process, with yesterday's consultation just the first of many, but what I saw is root and branch reform of national environmental laws. There are some strong parts of what is proposed, including a strong commitment to achieving nature-positive outcomes in every decision.
"There is a proposal for a strong Environmental Protection Agency, with a CEO empowered to make decisions to protect and restore nature.
"But there are also some weaknesses that need to be addressed. Today's consultations included the proposed approval process, and they don't currently include any opportunity for the community to take actions when laws are not being enforced.
"We need so-called 'third party enforcement' provisions. Federal Government agencies aren't on the ground like community groups are, so local communities need to be able to take action when our species are being harmed.
"There are also strong forces seeking to water down stronger environmental protection.
"Right now, the Federal Government needs to hear from every Queenslander who cares about our koalas, our greater gliders, our regent honeyeaters and gouldian finches, that we want laws that protect the places and the species we love."