1 December 2020
Over the 20-year existence of Australia’s federal environment laws, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, we have fought roll backs of the Act on numerous occasions, and advocated to improve this key piece of legislation. This month, EJA has continued to advocate to protect and strengthen the Act against the federal government’s attempts to weaken protection by handing over environmental approval powers to state governments.
The proposed legislation, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020, not only relaxes approvals for bilateral agreements, but also contains no safeguards to establish national environmental standards, or a national regulator to monitor and enforce standards. It has also been introduced to parliament before the final report of the independent review has been released. In response to the Inquiry launched into the proposed legislation our Acting Director Advocacy and Law Reform Dr Bruce Lindsay spoke last Monday 23 September to a public hearing of the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. Dr Lindsay outlined a number of issues with the Bill and highlighted in particular that:
“Our view is that the bill misconceives what national environmental laws should be doing, which is addressing Australia’s poor environmental performance, not fast tracking or legitimating ongoing environmental harms and destruction through questionable legal tools”.
We cannot accept this proposed legislation. Moving forward we will continue to protect and strength our environmental laws, and respond with fierce resistance to any moves to weaken them.