This week, the federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley announced the ten year review of our federal environment laws – the Environment Conservation and Biodiversity Protection Act (EPBC Act). An incredible 248 scientists signed an open letter to Scott Morrison calling on him to use the review as an opportunity to demonstrate national leadership and fix our federal environment laws in order to protect and restore nature across Australia.

Places You Love Alliance

As environmental lawyers, we have been deeply involved with the EPBC Act since it came into force in 2000. We have fought roll backs of the EPBC Act on numerous occasions, often as part of the coalition of environment and health groups that make up the Places You Love Alliance. We have fought attempts by the federal government to handover its powers to the states, which in many cases would have resulted in the states approving their own development interests. We have advocated to improve the legislation over many years, including during the previous 10 year review. And right now we are running one of the most significant cases in the history of the EPBC Act – the possums’ case, which if successful will mean that logging in important threatened species habitat is unlawful.

More recently, with the Places You Love Alliance, we have highlighted that the Act is not properly protecting our forests, our threatened species, our water resources, and our pristine natural places. The Act barely mentions climate change, the need to help species adapt to climate impacts, or the need to dramatically reduce Australia’s emissions to help them survive.

As the scientists stated in their open letter, since the Act was established, “7.7 million hectares of threatened species habitat has been destroyed. That’s an area larger than Tasmania. Meanwhile, the number of extinctions continue to climb, while new threats emerge and spread unchecked.”  In the lead up to this year’s federal election, the Places You Love Alliance called for the EPBC Act to be replaced by strong new federal environmental laws that will end the extinction crisis, recognise the impacts of climate change, and introduce nationally binding laws to reduce air and plastic pollution in all states and territories.

Have your say

The ten year review will kick off in November with the release of a discussion paper and a call for submissions. We will let you know when that happens. But you can make an online comment on the review at any time and it will be published on the government’s website. Why not jump online now and make a comment supporting stronger environmental laws?

During the 20 year review of the Act, we will be calling on the federal government to make strong new environment laws, and establish an independent federal EPA and National Environment Commission to oversee them. We will be asking them to enact laws that will stop Australia’s extinction and pollution crisis.

We hope you will too.