Submission to Inquiry into Australia's extinction crisis

Australia has one of the worst extinction records on the planet. Under pressure from a rapidly warming climate, land-clearing, over-extraction and deforestation, entire ecosystems are collapsing before our eyes.

Our ecosystems are so complex and delicately interconnected. They shape not just the lives of frogs and beetles — but our climate, soil, food, air, water, livelihoods, health and happiness.

On Tuesday 9 April 2023, EJA welcomed the continuation of the inquiry into Australia's extinction crisis and provided further submission setting out our six key concerns and recommendations with Australia's new national environment laws.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 is the central pillar of Australia’s environment law.

Passed in 1999, the EPBC Act was introduced to make sure important issues are assessed for the harms they could cause to our environment. These are called ‘Matters of National Environmental Significance’ in Act, and include things like threatened plants and animals, Commonwealth Marine Areas, World Heritage places, and Ramsar wetlands.

The scale of our environmental challenges looked quite different 25 years ago. Today, the EPBC Act is broken, outdated and full of holes.

Right now, our federal government is overhauling our national environment laws for the first time since their creation.

It means we have a once in a generation chance to fix the laws – and make sure they actually protect nature.

Environmental Justice Australia has participated in consultation sessions to view and provide comment on the draft laws. We encourage government to meet its commitment to complete reform this term, given the urgency of the extinction crisis we face.

Critically – we encourage government to ensure the reforms achieve the objective of halting and reversing Australia’s trajectories of species decline, and ending extinction in Australia.

While parts of the government’s proposed new laws are a very welcome step forward, Environmental Justice Australia has six key concerns with the reforms proposed to date. Each have simple, but crucial, solutions that are needed to ensure the reforms actually deliver on addressing Australia’s extinction crisis.