“The final report into the review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, released more than 90 days after the Federal Government received it, paints an alarming picture about the rate of environmental and biodiversity decline in Australia,” ACT Minister for the Environment, Rebecca Vassarotti said.
“The resounding message throughout the review is that EPBC Act is failing to deliver for the environment, for business, for government or for the community.
“Streamlining and harmonisation to reduce unnecessary ‘red tape’ is a sensible objective. However, streamlining administrative processes cannot lead to the primary objective of the Act being compromised.”
“The Samuel Report calls for urgent reforms to prevent further extinction of Australia’s wildlife, making 38 recommendations to transform the EPBC Act, including creating independent oversight bodies. Professor Samuel also called for strong, legally enforceable National Environmental Standards as the centrepiece of fundamental reform of national environmental law.
“The strength of these standards is a critical determining factor as to whether the recommended reforms can address the serious environmental challenges outlined in the report.
“Our environment is suffering from two decades of neglect and failure by the Federal Government. After decades of worsening extinctions, out-of-control habitat loss and lack of reform, the Federal Government can no longer stand idly by.
“The Federal Government needs to respond with a genuine commitment to overhaul Australia’s environment laws, including establishing new independent bodies to hold corporations and governments to account. In Professor Samuel’s own words, the Federal Government can’t “cherry pick from a highly interconnected suite of recommendations”.
“To shy away from the fundamental reforms recommended by this review is to accept the continued decline and extinction of our most threatened plants, animals and ecosystems. The future of our environment is at stake.”