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Abbott Government’s threatened species position lacks teeth

The Abbott Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner announcement today is a fig leaf with no legal backing to try and cover up Tony Abbott’s anti-environment agenda.

“We welcome the appointment of Gregory Andrews as Threatened Species Commissioner and wish him the best with the mammoth task the government is asking him to achieve with insufficient funding and no statutory authority,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.

“In Senate Estimates, the department said the Commissioner would have a coordinating role but with the Abbott Government cutting away at departmental staff and programs, and giving away federal environmental approval powers to state governments, there isn’t much left to 'coordinate'.

“At the same time as creating the Threated Species Commissioner the Abbott Government is cutting money out of the already struggling Environment Department, on top of other cuts to the successful grants program for voluntary environment, sustainability and heritage community  organisations.

“The announcement today comes with no statutory powers – it’s a fig leaf to try and cover the fact that Abbott Government is continuing to allow the destruction of threatened species habitat and ignore climate change.

“The Abbott Government is all talk and no action when it comes to saving our threatened species from extinction.

“On top of abolishing the Biodiversity Fund, the Abbott Government has gutted Landcare funding, slashed grants for conservation groups and completely cut federal funding for Environmental Defenders’ Offices.

“The Abbott Government is letting the big mining companies dredge up sea bed and dump it into the Great Barrier Reef, which will destroy feeding grounds for turtles and dugongs.

“Tony Abbott also tried to remove World Heritage protection for Tasmanian forests, home to the Tassie devil, so that they could be logged.

“If the government is genuinely worried about our threatened species, they need to start refusing environmentally damaging projects instead of letting precious habitat continually be logged, mined, dredged and dumped on,” Senator Waters said. 

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