Environmental Justice Australia recently had the pleasure of participating in the National Environmental Law Association’s (NELA) Annual National Conference for 2016. The NELA conference focused on how effectively current environmental laws and policies are achieving the multiple aims of sustainable development.
Our CEO, Brendan Sydes, provided a thought provoking presentation on the development of pollution control laws in Australia and then joined a panel discussion with senior staff from the Environmental Protection Authorities (EPA) from WA, Victoria and NSW, who provided their views and insights into the various EPA review processes from each of their respective states.
I participated in a session focusing on nature protections laws in Australia where we heard from EDO NSW’s lawyer, Rachel Walmsley, about the deregulation of environmental protections that are being pushed forward in NSW, unwinding what were previously thought to be amongst Australia’s best examples of state-based biodiversity protection laws.
Given the sobering insight from NSW, it is perhaps difficult to be optimistic about the immediate future of nature protection laws in Victoria. However as I have previously reported, here at EJA we believe that Victoria may be our best hope to deliver an effective and efficient state-based nature protection law that sets a high standard for other states, and the Commonwealth, to follow.
We are expecting the Victorian government to release a discussion paper any day now to explain how their review of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act has progressed and how they are going to meet their election commitment to ‘modernise threatened species protection to adopt world’s best practice’.
I therefore gave an update at NELA’s 2016 conference about what we know about the government’s review of the Victoria’s main nature protection law – the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (FFG Act) – and provided an overview of our ideas for how the government can meet their election promise.