update – December 2012:
The Gillard Government has put the brakes on plans to
hand its environmental approval powers to the states. The Business Council of
Australia and many state governments are not taking this decision lying down.
They are still pushing the Prime Minister to gut our environment protection
laws, threatening our special places and wildlife with development, mining and
other destruction. We will therefore be continuing our campaign and you can
look forward to hearing more news of action you can take in 2013.
On 13th April 2012 the Council of Australian
Government’s (COAG) released a plan to
implement damaging changes to federal and state environmental laws in the name
of reducing ‘green tape’. This presents a grave threat to hard won
environmental protections, as the negotiation of Environment Protection and
Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 bilateral
approval agreements between federal and state governments will be fast-tracked,
transferring important approval functions to the states by March 2013.
Meanwhile, parallel changes are being made to state laws, including amendments
aimed at accelerating the approval of major development projects. To add to the
threats a package of damaging legislative amendments to the EPBC Act is due to
be introduced to federal Parliament this spring.
The Places You Love campaign was founded by a
group of 30 organisations, including HSI concerned with the proposals to wind
back our system of environmental laws. We strongly believe that the reforms
proposed will set us back decades on hard won protection for our land, water
We established the campaign to motivate and
inspire the Australian community to let the Federal and State Governments know
that people care about environmental laws, and that the environment movement
will not stand for these changes - we intend to fight the proposed reforms.
The things we love – our most iconic reefs,
forests, wetlands and wildlife – deserve to be protected from developments that
will destroy them.
However, under pressure from big business
Federal, State and Territory governments are moving forward with an aggressive
plan to wind back our environmental protection laws. By cutting ‘green
tape’, handing important federal approval powers to the states, and fast
tracking approvals for large development, federal protection for our most
special places and wildlife will be removed, and mining and other destructive
development in our forests, woodlands and along our coasts will be accelerated.
History has shown us that the Federal
government has a critical role in protecting matters of national environmental
significance. Short-sighted development proposals have threatened Australia’s
natural heritage several times in the past and the Federal government has
stepped in to prevent irreversible harm.
intervention, the Franklin River would be dammed, there would be oil rigs on
the Great Barrier Reef and pristine Shoalwater Bay would be home to a large
recent national State of the Environment report shows the country is
going backwards in biodiversity conversation, climate change impacts, the
health of our watersheds and the protection of our public forests and woodlands. Given the declining state of our
environment. Now more
than ever we need the federal government to uphold and strengthen environmental
laws to safeguard Australia’s natural heritage for future generations.
This is a critical moment in time. It is
essential that the Prime Minister hears community support for the laws that
protect the places we love. Please take action now to
write to the Prime Minister and to let her know that the environmental
protections that we enjoy today were hard won, and will not be surrendered
For more information and to take action visit www.placesyoulove.org
Reform of Australia's National Environmental Law
On August 24th 2011 the Government announced their plans to amend Australia’s national environment law – the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, 1999.
HSI hailed the original EPBC Act after we helped negotiate its passage through Parliament in 1999. It was ground breaking as for the first time it placed the Federal Environment Minister as the central decision maker for actions that impact the environment. HSI has used the legislation thoroughly ever since, making the most of its clauses to protect Australia’s wildlife and threatened species. We have even used the Act to bring people to account in the Courts, including the Japanese whalers and federal Environment Ministers when we have disagreed with their decisions.
There are some positive initiatives for the environment in the Government’s proposals. Notably plans to improve the identification of critical habitats, to give greater protection for vulnerable ecological communities and to give new protections for “ecosystems of national importance”. But much more is needed to properly equip the legislation to deal with the environmental challenges facing Australia’s biodiversity. It was disappointing not to see more being done for critical habitats – for it they aren’t properly protected, biodiversity conservation becomes a lost cause.
Unfortunately, the positives promised come amongst a number of proposals HSI considers dangerous – such as plans to devolve responsibilities for decision making back to State and Territory Governments and a suggestion to let go of the Environment Minister’s leverage over the ecological sustainability of fisheries. We are also wary of intentions to loosen ‘red tape’ and ‘streamline’ and will be anxious to see strict safeguards put in place to make sure that threatened species do not suffer as a result.
For further HSI analysis on the EPBC reform see our Opinion piece published by ABC Environment Online
Time to take handover of environmental powers off the table for good
27th March 2013 download PDF (173.2 kB)
Green tape 'risks choking $200bn in export projects' - The Australian
25th March 2013 download PDF (887 kB)
New Water Trigger a historic win for the community but handover threat remains
22ndth March 2013 download PDF (191.5 kB)
Water decisions will be useless if environmental powers go to states
18th March 2013 download PDF (167.8 kB)
Red Herrings on Green Tape
1st March 2013 download PDF (105.5 kB)
Send Prime Minister Gillard and Environmental Minister burke a Valentine's Card to protect the places you love
1th February 2013 click here
Time to listen to the community and take transfer of environmental powers off the table
December 7th 2012 click here
Federal Government must drop plans to transfer environmental powers
December 6th 2012 download PDF (161 kB)
Business and PM meet in private to gut environment protection
December 6th 2012 download PDF (185.5 kB)
10,000 ask Prime Minister to dump controversial reforms to environmental laws
November 28th 2012 download PDF (364.6 kB)
Sir david Attenborough urges prime Minister not to abandon national environment powers
November 23rd 2012 click here