If there is one thing that the Coronavirus pandemic is teaching us, it's that we are inextricably part of the natural world. And if we want to protect nature from the relentless consumption and destruction of capitalism, development and industry - we need a strong, comprehensive and up-to-date Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. That’s why this 10-year review is important, and why we must raise our voices to make sure that the LNP Coalition Government doesn’t take this opportunity (especially while Coronavirus has the world’s attention) to further weaken the Act and jeopardise the creatures, plants, landscapes and ecosystems that we love, and are part of.
The EPBC Act was introduced in 1999 to create a framework of environmental protection and impact assessment administered by the Federal Government. Since then it has been significantly amended and was comprehensively reviewed in 2009. The Act was designed to protect nationally significant threatened species while also providing oversight of state and territory environmental impact assessment. Activities or actions are assessed under the Act if they impact on matters of national environmental significance.
The Act was considered landmark legislation for its time but is now outdated and not up-to-scratch. It doesn’t address major environmental impacts and facilitates inappropriate development.
The Act is now up for its second 10-year review. The LNP Coalition Government have made their intentions for the review clear, and it’s unlikely this process will lead to a completely new, strengthened Act. The Government may attempt to weaken it further.
Despite this dire political reality, there are several key ways the Act could be improved to strengthen the environmental impact assessment process and tackle major threats to biodiversity head-on. This is a critical opportunity to make sure that one of the main laws protecting nature comes out stronger and more resilient to the whims of unscrupulous governments.
If you’d like to get involved with the Review, and help to secure a healthy future for all living things across Australia, contact Policy Officer Alex Read at [email protected]
EDO: The Independent Review of the EPBC Act Response to Discussion Paper: A summary for the community