Greens will apply Senate spotlight to Government’s secret environment law reform

Australian Greens

The Greens will use a Senate inquiry into Australia’s extinction crisis to probe the Federal Government’s environmental law reform after growing concern from stakeholders that the secret process is heading in the wrong direction.

The Government has promised to fix Australia’s environment laws this term, but in what is a concerning trend, consultations on the changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC) have been shrouded in secret, closed-door consultations. Groups are not permitted to take laptops or phones into the secret sessions, or allowed to take copies of the exposure drafts.

There is rising concern that Labor’s changes lack the ambition needed to halt extinction, protect native forests and tackle climate change.

Australia’s Extinction Crisis Inquiry, chaired by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, will hold a hearing dedicated to Australia’s environmental laws (EPBC Act reform) on Wednesday 17 April.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Chair of the Environment and Communications References Committee and Greens spokesperson on the environment said:

“The Albanese Government went to the election promising to fix Australia’s broken environment laws, but almost two years in we are yet to see any progress.

“Closed-door consultations only silence experts and stifle environmental protection. This will not solve our extinction crisis.

“A lack of laws to stop native forest logging or climate damage and pollution will leave our environment and wildlife without proper protection.

“It’s alarming that the Labor Government is considering weakening environment law for big gas projects by enabling states to dodge the recently legislated ‘water trigger’. Polluting fossil fuel projects must assessed be under the strictest of laws – enforced and upheld in the national interest.

“There is also growing concern around the potential use of dodgy nature ‘offsets’ which would allow loggers, developers and mining companies to pay to pollute and destroy habitat.

“Two of the greatest threats to our wildlife and nature are habitat destruction and climate change. If the Government thinks they can bring laws to this Parliament that don’t stop native forest logging and climate pollution, they are sorely mistaken.

“The Greens will use this inquiry to scrutinise the Government’s plans.”

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