The Federal Court case to stop the expansion of Melbourne’s urban growth boundary
Senator Birmingham, the former Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, approved the expansion of Melbourne’s urban growth boundary in the South-East of Melbourne under federal environmental laws.
The expansion would impact on the habitat of several species, including the Southern Brown Bandicoot, the Growling Grass Frog and certain types of endangered wetlands.
The approval was also a wasted opportunity to allow urban growth whilst still protecting species. The Victorian government’s application failed to fully implement a series of innovative measures, such as corridors for the bandicoots and the frogs, that would have ensured species and people could co-exist.
If the approval went ahead in its original form, experts warned that it was likely to result in the local extinction of the southern brown bandicoot.
In the past, two state governments had rezoned extensive areas in the south-east that included southern brown bandicoot habitat without adequate wildlife corridors.
When our governments do not fulfil their role protecting our threatened wildlife, we have a duty to hold them to account in court.
In January 2015, we launched a new case in the Federal Court, on behalf of the Green Wedges Coalition against Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt over the expansion of Melbourne’s urban growth boundary.
The case challenged Hunt’s Parliamentary Secretary – Senator Birmingham’s – approval and argued that the impacts on a number of threatened species were not properly considered when the Senator issued the approval.
In particular, the case argued that the expansion would threaten the future of the remaining threatened southern brown bandicoot. It called for a functional wildlife corridor that would protect and connect habitat for the remaining bandicoot population.
The original federal decision on the bandicoot plan was made by the Parliamentary Secretary. Mr Hunt excused himself from the decision because he is the local member for the area and had been discussing the issue with various groups for several years.