In 2012 a move to change environmental laws so that the Federal Government no longer had the final say on approval and conditions for major development was greeted with dismay by the environmental community.
Following a nation -wide campaign to ensure environmental protection oversight was retained by the federal government, Gecko-Gold Coast and Hinterland Environment Council (Gecko) members were greatly heartened this week by an important policy announcement from the Rudd government.
The new minister for the Environment, Mark Butler announced on 16th July that the Rudd government would resist a “green tape” push by business and retain the final decision-making powers for federal environmental approvals.
Gecko President Lois Levy said, “There has been a worrying call over the last year for States to be handed approval powers under the EPBC Act. This has come as part of the push to deregulate and cut the so-called green tape to fast track development approvals. Many changes to environmental protection at a State level meant that the Federal appraisal was the only thing left to ensure protection of rare and endangered species”
Last year a massive country wide campaign was launched by an alliance of Australian environment groups, called “Protect the laws that protect the places we love.” This was in response to demands from business and mining interest to wind back “green tape”, easing legislative environmental constraints and allowing the States to make approvals under the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act. Those who respect and value these laws called for this power to remain in the hands of federal government. Environmental laws are an essential element of a healthy society. They not only protect our fragile ecosystems, they also protect our health, our communities, our economy and future generations and should not be weakened in order to fulfil the economic ambitions of the individual states.
Ms Levy said “Gecko is strongly supportive of an appropriate regulatory framework in order to ensure the environment is protected from harm and that communities do not face dangerous, unhealthy or undesirable impacts from development projects. Duplications and inefficiencies should be remedied but we believe that the overall responsibility for matters of national environmental significance should remain with the federal government.”
It continues to be of concern that the Federal Opposition is still serious about removing this oversight power which will leave our native species, which are already in serious decline, even more vulnerable to the negative impacts of inappropriate developments.
Contact: Rose Adams (Gecko Secretary) 040 715 1671
Download a copy of the media release Retention of Federal Protection welcomed