Green changes rammed through
The Federal Government has gagged debate and rushed through its weakening of the important EPBC act.
A recent review of Australia’s national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act found it to be inadequate.
The key finding of the report by former competition watchdog chair Prof Graeme Samuel was that Australia’s environment is in an unsustainable decline.
While the review made several recommendations to improve the laws - including the establishment of a ‘green cop’ to address the problems of widespread non-enforcement - the Federal Government has cherry-picked only the changes that reduce federal responsibility, reduce national standards, and hand off approval powers to state and territory governments.
The government’s response is a near replica of Tony Abbott’s failed 2014 one-stop-shop policy.
The proposed changes passed the lower house late last week after the Federal Government used its numbers to gag debate on the bill and amendments proposed by Labor and the crossbench.
No member of the government spoke on the bill, and all crossbenchers and opposition members were denied the chance.
The bill still has to pass the Senate, which the Government says will allow for further discussion of the laws. They are likely be debated during the October budget sittings.
UNESCO says the planned changes will put Australia’s natural world heritage sites “under more pressure than ever before”.