The Government's response to the Samuel review of national environment law reiterates its intention to end nature destruction and move toward nature repair, but the critical test will be whether this reform package can stop extinctions before more is irreversibly lost.
"This is a big ask, given our current course," says NCC CEO Jacqui Mumford.
"We are excited to have a Minister willing to engage in this difficult process of law reform. While many details aren't yet clear, we look forward to working with the NSW and federal governments on progressing the agenda.
"The Government's sense of urgency to arrest the decline in our environment needs to be matched with decisive action. In their response, we see a mixture of commitment and capitulation." Ms Mumford said.
"The plight of the koala, greater glider and swift parrot in NSW demonstrate the sad trajectory our wildlife is on unless change is quick and dramatic. Greater gliders and koalas are among thousands of native species under threat of extinction, unless drastic action is taken to protect their habitat, including ending public native forest logging in New South Wales.
"It is significant that the Minister has flagged bringing forestry operations into line with future national standards, though we would have liked to see a clearer position and timeline from the Government on this. NSW forests are being chopped down and species after species is becoming endangered. This is urgent.
"It is also disappointing to see that the plan lacks a climate trigger that ensures assessment of the environmental costs of burning fossil fuels. Climate change is a key threat to wildlife.
"We are very pleased that the government will rule out development in some areas of high conservation value, however we are concerned that the offsets program being proposed will allow for habitat to be destroyed in exchange for dollars. We have seen how disastrous that has become in NSW, and we need to learn from the mistakes of other schemes.
"We welcome the creation of the National EPA and the plan for nationally consistent standards. An effective EPA will be well-resourced with clearly specified powers, and the standards it will enforce must be developed by independent experts and provide clear and strong protections for the bushlands, forests, wetlands, oceans and coastlines that provide homes for our threatened wildlife.
"This response is a good start. There is no time to waste, we look forward to working with the federal government to achieve the progress that our nature desperately needs, and to bring the states and territories into line."
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek today announced the government’s response to Graeme Samuel’s 2020 review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, which found the laws were failing to protect Australia’s threatened species.