Strong laws and an independent watchdog
Our environment is under attack like never before. Dredging for coal and gas ports and mass coral bleaching are threatening the Great Barrier Reef. New coal and gas mining is threatening our forests and food bowls. Tasmania's incredible World Heritage wilderness is under threat from bushfires driven by global warming. The Kimberley remains under threat from fracking and fossil fuel extraction. The forests of Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania and their unique wildlife including the Leadbeater’s Possum, wombats and the Swift Parrot are under threat from logging. Even our beloved koala and Tasmanian devil are facing extinction.
We need environment laws that will stop the biodiversity crisis, save our threatened species, and protect our precious places. We can protect what we love about Australia, now and into the future.
A National EPA: a tough new watchdog
Big miners, developers and companies have too much power over decision-makers, and repeated our environmental regulators like the Department of Environment have suffered repeated cuts. It’s time for a tough new cop on the beat. The Greens would create a new independent statutory National Environment Protection Authority (or NEPA), modelled on the successful US EPA. The Greens will establish a new independent National Environment Protection Authority, with funding of $130 million per year, including $75 million per year in new funding.
The NEPA would enforce the rules, fact-check and independently review all environmental impact assessments and produce comprehensive national environmental accounts and sustainability reports to Parliament.
Laws that actually protect nature
Our national environment laws, the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, were meant to protect the places and wildlife which were so important, so fragile, and which mattered to all Australians. The last 15 years has shown that they have failed.
The Greens will create a new Environment Act designed by an Expert Taskforce with $2 million in funding which will limit the Minister’s discretion to approve environmentally destructive developments and give the national environment minister responsibility for all aspects of the environment when the impact is significant. The new Act will provide greater opportunities for genuine community consultation and allow increased community access to justice by allowing the merits of decisions to be challenged in court, and allowing 'open standing' to challenge decisions.
Protecting our native wildlife
As announced on World Environment Day 2016, the Greens will chart the road to recovery for Australia’s threatened species and ecosystems with our Threatened Species Plan that will identify and protect important habitat and increase funding for threatened species management and research with $130 million plan over four years.
$2 billion Biodiversity Fund for nature
As announced on World Environment Day 2016, the Greens will re-establish and double the Biodiversity Fund, which was axed by the Coalition, with $2 billion in funding over 6 years and the first $1 billion to be injected immediately.
Stopping runaway tree clearing
The Greens will legislate for a comprehensive “climate trigger” in our national environment laws which will ensure all carbonintensive proposals will have their impacts on global warmingconsidered, including the ability to stop runaway tree-clearing across Australia, including in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia where the situation is urgent. This would address the ridiculous situation where coal mines can be approved without considering all their global warming impacts.