Media release

New Threatened Species role fundamentally flawed

July 02, 2014

While a step in the right direction, the new Threatened Species Commissioner will not have the power to address fundamental flaws in Australian environmental protection laws, says Brendan Sydes, CEO of Environmental Justice Australia.

“A radical new approach is needed to save our most vulnerable species yet the Threatened Species Commissioner will have no real power.

“Greg Hunt has confirmed that the Commissioner won’t be able to do anything more than encourage cooperation between states.

“It’s difficult to see how the Commissioner will affect any meaningful results.

“It shows a complete lack of leadership by the Commonwealth Government to create a role with no power to enforce the systemic change needed to protect our most vulnerable species.

“There is no new money to create change.

“The Commissioner is expected to find funding from the states and private donations.

“The time the commissioner spends searching for funding would be far better spent saving iconic Australian species that face imminent extinction.

“What limited Commonwealth funding there is, is not guaranteed beyond the first year.

“The Commissioner’s role is not guaranteed in law – it could be abolished at any time, as we saw with the Climate Commission.

“The independence of the role is compromised with the axe poised to strike as soon as the Commissioner takes any position the government disagrees with.

“The Government is under no obligation to accept any recommendations from the Commissioner anyway.

“Australia’s environmental protection laws need systemic change.

“A disempowered Threatened Species Commissioner will not address systemic problems.

“The model is flawed from the outset.”

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