Australia’s Nature Positive future hangs in the balance

Humane Society International (HSI) Australia

Legislation tabled today to create a new Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Environment Information Australia (EIA) needs significant amendment to provide an adequate framework for a nature positive Australia, according to Humane Society International (HSI) Australia.

While the EPA and EIA are important and necessary institutions, the animal protection and conservation organisation argues the proposed scope and governance of these bodies won’t deliver the urgent and fundamental improvements in decision making that our extinction crisis demands.

Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns, HSI Australia said:

“The current Bills replicate the key problems of the existing legislation. They fail to embed clear, outcomes based requirements for decision making and provide too much discretion, allowing decision-makers to avoid making nature positive decisions. These are both features that the 2020 Graeme Samuel review of the existing laws said must change.

“The Bills fail to include stronger protections for nature now. Important commitments the Government is proposing to consult on in stage three of the reforms could easily be included in these current stage two changes. They should also address some of the most egregious gaps and exemptions in our current laws in stage two.

“HSI Australia has long been calling for a national EPA and welcomes the Government’s recognition of the importance of environmental data in reversing the extinction crisis. The Government’s increased focus on compliance and enforcement is decades overdue. However, the Bills as proposed fail to provide strong governance arrangements, clear objects and duties for the EPA to implement, and a definition of ‘nature positive’ that is clear and measurable and can be used to hold decision makers to account.

“We strongly believe these Bills can be improved through the Parliamentary process to ensure that they deliver strong institutions and good outcomes for nature.

“We call on the Parliament to work together to strengthen these institutions, set a strong nature positive goal, and deliver a framework better equipped to tackle the extinction crisis. That includes amendments that would rule out unacceptable impacts, protect critical habitat and implement strong National Environmental Standards while closing existing loopholes and exemptions in relation to forestry, land clearing and shark culling.

“We must also ensure that key issues such as climate change and deforestation are properly embedded in our nature laws.

“With more than 2,000 threatened species and ecological communities facing extinction, and more being added every year, imperilled wildlife cannot afford any further delays.”

/Public Release.