HSI suggests Tim Flannery as Threatened Species Commissioner and calls on all parties to commit to funding a major National Threatened Species Program that retains Commonwealth Powers
The announcement by Greg Hunt, MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Change Action, Environment and Heritage, that he will install a ‘Threatened Species Commissioner’ if the Coalition wins power on September 7th, has helped ignite an environmental debate in an election campaign thus far devoid of any such meaningful discussion.
In Humane Society International’s (HSI) election analysis, launched today, all parties were asked if they would initiate a new and fully funded National Endangered Species Program; immediately list those species known to be threatened but unprotected by Commonwealth law; and significantly strengthen the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (EPBC Act), but of the three major parties only the Greens responded in the affirmative.
HSI Director Michael Kennedy noted that, “The establishment of a Threatened Species “Commissioner” with responsibility for developing and implementing threatened species recovery plans could be an important start to address Australia’s biodiversity decline. However the success of this position will depend on the Commissioner’s powers and resources available, though the initiative would be doomed to failure if Commonwealth approval powers are not retained.”
Mr Kennedy continued, “HSI would like to propose that Professor Tim Flannery be given the Commissioners job, supported by a strong well-resourced team and asked to provide an incoming Minister with a warts and all analysis of the national situation, together with a no-holds-barred solution to this national biological crisis – within a short eight week period. And that the Commissioner’s recommendations are implemented equally quickly.”
The recommendations of the Senate Environment Committee’s inquiry report into the Effectiveness of threatened species and ecological communities' protection in Australia, to which HSI contributed heavily, also make it clear that species lists must be regularly updated; that there must be significant, dedicated, long-term funding for species recovery planning, and that effective prioritisation of recovery efforts must occur.
Mr Kennedy concluded, “The two major parties must make public announcements about their plans for saving Australia’s lengthening list of endangered mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrate and plants - before September 7th. The Coalition must also reverse its environmentally disastrous decision to devolve Commonwealth EPBC Act approval powers to the states and territories, otherwise they will simply contribute to the growing extinction dilemma.”