Environmental Justice Australia is one of the organisations leading the work of the Places You Love Alliance to advocate for new federal environmental laws. The Places You Love Alliance includes more than 50 organisations representing over 1.5 million Australians.
EJA has two decades of experience working with the current federal environmental law – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act – and we are acutely aware of its failings.
It is clear that the Act is not capable of reversing the decline we are experiencing in many areas of our environment. For example, Australia leads the world on extinction, with the highest number of mammals declared extinct since European settlement. Twenty years of the EPBC Act has done very little to address this species decline.
The Act is almost silent on climate change, allowing incredibly carbon-intensive projects to go ahead. It provides little assistance when a state government allows mass tree clearing for agriculture or other industry, and its regional forestry agreement process has not given the protection to native forests and forest-dwelling species that was originally lauded.
It is completely silent on pollution issues, meaning it is impossible to have nationally consistent and effective regulation of air pollution and plastic pollution, instead leaving it to the whims and politics of seven state governments.
We and other groups in the Places You Love Alliance have been called for a new generation of federal environmental laws – a federal Environment Act – that will address these inadequacies and protect and restore our natural environment, strengthen our democracy and support community involvement in the protection of the environment.
We are asking the federal government to take a much greater leadership role in the protection of our environment, and develop a national framework for the protection and restoration of our environment through new laws. We are also calling for the establishment of a two new independent institutions to administer the laws – a National EPA and a National Environment Commission.
In December last year at the ALP national conference Bill Shorten spoke in support of stronger new laws and a new EPA as the environmental watchdog, however as yet the ALP has not released a detailed election commitment. The Australian Greens have committed to new environmental laws this election, as well as a national EPA and an end to deforestation. The Liberal Party has remained silent on the matter.
No matter what the result of the election, EJA will continue to work with the Places You Love Alliance to secure the new generation of environmental laws that Australia so desperately needs.
Image: Gouldian Finch at the Mt Oxide Copper Mine by Lock the Gate Alliance