Senator Waters' speech on her bill to make it unlawful for the federal Environment Minister to hand off their powers to the states.
In 1999, the Howard Government introduced the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. It was meant to protect environmental areas and wildlife that were so important, and so fragile, that their existence mattered to all Australians.
Since it was introduced, the EPBC Act has saved only a few wilderness areas from mining and other development. Many thousands of developments have gone ahead.
Australia’s environment is under attack like never before.
Nine open cut mines are planned for Tasmania’s pristine Tarkine forests. James Price Point, home to dinosaur footprints, is to become a massive gas hub. The Great Barrier Reef is becoming a coal and gas highway, and could lose its World Heritage status.
The State of the Environment Report 2011 paints a grim picture. More and more endangered species are moving closer to extinction, and we are losing our precious places. Our national environment laws aren’t working.
Now, the ALP and Tony Abbott are ganging up to make these laws even weaker.
Tony Burke, Labor’s federal Environment Minister, wants to water down Howard’s environment laws. Burke wants to give up his responsibility for protecting the environment, and hand his powers back down to the states.
Tony Abbott and his Coalition support the move to weaken the national environment laws. It’s a race to roll back environment protection in Australia.
Past environment wins could be lost.
The major environment wins in the past have been brought about by the Australian Government overturning a bad development decision by a state Government. Traveston Dam, the Franklin River, drilling for oil in the Great Barrier Reef and cattle grazing in the Alpine Park are all examples of the federal Government using its powers to stop state governments from destroying precious places.
With the federal Government now planning to give back responsibility to the states, the great environmental victories of the past may now have to be fought all over again – and this time, the odds of winning are much smaller.
Every place we love is up for grabs.
State Governments can’t be trusted to look after our precious places.
State Governments reap the profits of mining and development. The money they get from allowing these developments to go ahead often makes them turn a blind eye to environmental destruction.
The New South Wales Premier has greenlighted shooting in National Parks. The Queensland Premier says “We’re in the coal business”, and wants to take climate education out of schools.
The Australian Greens want new national environmental laws that actually protect our natural heritage: laws that will see our biodiversity flourish and halt any further extinction of our unique wildlife and save our ancient landscapes for generations to come - find out more here.
But you can help.
You can stand up for Australia’s precious places and wildlife.
You can tell Tony Burke and Tony Abbott that they can’t give away the federal Government’s responsibility to protect our environment.
You can tell you local member that it is the national government’s responsibility to protect the places and wildlife that are precious to all of us. So many Australians have worked so hard to protect these places and wildlife, and people here and overseas know that they are uniquely Australian. Don't abandon them to state governments now. Sign our petition here.