Independence Of New EPA Is Critical: ACF

The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed legislation to create two new agencies, Environment Protection Australia (EPA) and Environment Information Australia, and called on the government to progress the full reform of the national environment law.

“A strong, independent and well-resourced regulator is critical so Australia can move beyond the present situation, where vested interests influence decision making and undermine nature protection,” said national biodiversity policy adviser Brendan Sydes.

“As the parliament scrutinises and debates these bills, we will look to MPs and Senators to examine the government’s proposals closely and push for improvements.

“While a new EPA is welcome and necessary, stronger nature protection and laws that prevent climate pollution must be urgently prioritised.

“The beefed-up penalties for those who breach the requirements of nature laws and new enforcement powers are welcome recognition of the need for stronger compliance measures.

“We welcome the Minister’s commitment to ask the EPA to examine illegal land clearing and the offsetting system, which is fundamentally flawed and allows for unique ecological communities to be continually chipped away at until there is nothing left.

“ACF urges the government to listen to proposals for other amendments to the national environment law that can be made as part of the stage 2 reforms to strengthen protection of threatened species habitat and prevent climate harm.

“It’s simply unacceptable for the new EPA to administer existing laws that fail to protect the homes of threatened species or consider climate harm to the very things the legislation is supposed to protect, like the Great Barrier Reef.

“With the mining and gas lobbies mounting a campaign to oppose nature protection and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton threatening to wind back environment laws, it is critical the Albanese government delivers on the overhaul of our national nature law.

“Every day and every decision matters for Australia’s unique wildlife and places. Further delays to nature law reform mean more extinctions.”

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