State governments have failed to properly implement threatened species and wildlife laws, and cannot trusted to administer national environmental laws, according to a new legal analysis to be released tomorrow.
The analysis, prepared by the Environment Defenders Office (Victoria), follows moves by the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) a few weeks ago to hand back national environment and threatened species laws back to states.
“The states cannot be trusted with the task of administering national environmental laws, when they are so clearly unwilling or unable to enforce the laws they already have.” said Brendan Sydes, Chief Executive Officer and lawyer at the EDO.
The report finds that Action Statements have still not been prepared for 374 of the 675 species, communities and processes listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, despite the clear legal obligation to do so. In the past year, only one draft statement has been released.
“At this rate, it will take the Government decades to fulfil their obligations,” said Mr Sydes.
The analysis comes three years after the Auditor-General released a damning report on the implementation of the Act (which you can download from the Auditor-General’s website here). It finds that since then, nothing has changed.
“Three years have passed since the Auditor-General released his report, yet the Victorian Government has taken no steps to implement the Auditor-General’s recommendations, or to fix the problems that he identified,” said Mr Sydes
The report finds that the Government has failed to produce a Victorian Biodiversity Strategy as required by the FFG Act, which has not been done since 1997. The Government has not progressed the Draft Strategy prepared by the previous Government in 2010, and has shown no signs of doing so.
The analysis also finds that the legal powers to protect threatened species set out in the FFG Act are almost never used, and that both the FFG Act and the Wildlife Act are administered without transparency or accountability.
Strong threatened species laws are the key to protecting our unique native plants and animals, governments need to make sure they properly fund implementation of existing laws, before they start cutting or changing regulations.
You can download the full report from 9am on Tuesday 8 May Where’s the Guarantee?