How to write a great submission to the Extinction Inquiry

Last year, the Victorian Greens successfully campaigned to establish a Parliamentary Inquiry into tackling the extinction crisis in Victoria. The Inquiry is now open, and we need your input!

Why is this important?

120 Victorian animals, birds, plants, insects and fish are on the brink of extinction. The summer’s bushfires have only made things worse, but decades of under-funding, land clearing, weeds and invasive species, and logging have severely damaged Victoria’s ecosystems.

Parliamentary Inquiries have a proven track record of getting results in Victoria. Last year, the Greens initiated an inquiry into the waste crisis, and it led to the Victorian Government announcing a ‘cash for cans’ scheme in Victoria and more money for recycling. 

Together, we can ensure this extinction inquiry also delivers real results.

How you can help: Make a submission

The first stage in a Parliamentary Inquiry is a call for submissions. Making a submission to the inquiry is a powerful way for you to tell your MPs that stopping extinction is their responsibility, and the Government needs to do more.

We’re asking you to open up a new document, or a new email, write your own letter from scratch, and send it to ecosystems@parliament.vic.gov.au (please also BCC office@ellensandell.com).

You’ll need to include:

  • Your full name
  • Contact details (either a postal address or phone number) 
  • The text of your submission - either in an email or an attached document.
  • Whether you want your submission to be confidential or public (but note your contact details won’t be made public)

We know doing a submission this way is more work, but it has a greater impact. From our experience with inquiries like this one, MPs give far more weight to unique and authentic submissions.

However, please don’t think your submission needs to be long or thoroughly researched. Even just a few paragraphs, personally and poignantly written, will have a big impact. (The inquiry will also receive submissions from scientists, organisations and experts with specialist knowledge, so don’t feel like you have to know everything or have all the answers).

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch on office@ellensandell.com or (03) 9328 4637. You can also visit the Parliament of Victoria website here for more information.

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Tips for what to include in your submission

1. Make your submission personal

  • Share your memories, experiences and hopes for places and creatures you love in Victoria 
  • Does your family have a camping tradition? Do you have a special city nature park you love? Are you an avid surfer? Or bushwalker? Do you work or volunteer in ecosystem recovery?
  • What special places do you want your children, your nieces and nephews, and future generations to experience and enjoy?
  • What is your favourite national park and why? Is it the amazing rock formations in Gariwerd/the Grampians? Did you go to the Prom on school trips and see wombats?

2. Include some facts about the state of Victoria’s environment

Even before this summer’s terrible fires, there’s growing and alarming evidence that our state’s natural wonders are in trouble. Here are some facts that you could include in your submission if you wanted:

  • Victoria is the most cleared state in Australia - 66% of our land has been cleared of native trees, shrubs and plants - the habitat that supports our native wildlife 
  • Over 700 native plants, animals, insects and beautiful ecosystems are under threat, with this number growing every day
  • 120 Victorian animals, birds, plants, insects and fish are now at the brink of extinction 
  • More than 70 threatened species make their home in forests that are still being logged

Tragically, this summer's fires have dramatically worsened the outlook for the places and creatures that make Victoria such an amazing place. The scale, severity and destruction of these fires was unprecedented. 

The fires:

  • Burned 1.4 million hectares, just in Victoria
  • Destroyed more than 50% of the habitat for 185 rare and threatened Victorian animals, plants and other creatures
  • Pushed already critically endangered species like the greater glider, smoky mouse, mountain ash eucalyptus and many others perilously close to extinction

If you’d like further information about the current health of Victoria’s environment, you can review Victoria’s 2018 State of the Environment Report here

3. Include some information about the solutions you want to see

The good news is that there are many solutions that can restore habitat and wildlife. These solutions are absolutely achievable and have been shown to be successful with the right commitment and funding from governments. Our world is a truly remarkable place. It will heal with the right care and protections. 

Right now, as we come to grips with the economic fallout from COVID-19, it’s a perfect time for governments to spend public money and create jobs looking after people and the environment. 

a) A huge program of weed and invasive species eradication
Victoria is overrun by weeds and invasive animals, which kill and out-compete our native plants and wildlife. It’s a big job to manage them, but it’s critical for restoring habitat. We could create thousands of jobs clearing weeds out of rivers, creeks, farmland and national parks, and humanely managing introduced animals like cats, deer, rabbits and foxes.

b) A tree-planting workforce to restore habitat
67% of Victoria’s trees, mangroves, shrubs, and other plants have been cleared since colonisation. Much of what’s left is in poor health. We could create thousands of jobs in both the city and the country, replanting trees and vegetation in our parks, streets, rivers and creeks right across our state, but especially in bushfire-affected areas. We could also help landowners plant native vegetation on their land.

c) A dedicated program for reviving species facing extinction
The work of rescuing Victoria’s more than 120 species at risk of extinction deserves and needs a dedicated program of funding. NSW has committed $100 million to a ‘Save Our Species’ program, which systematically identifies risks to species and goes about addressing them. It also includes action like breeding programs so healthy populations of animals, birds and plants can be restored.  Victoria has nothing like this program and spends almost no money on this type of dedicated species recovery work. We also spend very little money on research for our scientists to study new solutions to the extinction crisis. It’s time that changed.

d) An end to habitat destruction and strengthened nature laws
We cannot hope to stop extinction unless we stop the destructive activities that are driving it. We need to:

  • End native forest logging and transition to a plantation based timber industry
  • Phase out coal and gas burning, which is making the climate crisis worse and driving devastating extreme events like heat waves, fires and floods
  • Stop destructive and unnecessary development like the Western Highway Duplication and the proposed Westernport gas ship terminal which continue to bit-by-bit erode the health of Victoria’s environment for corporate profits. 
  • Change the laws that allow wildlife to be killed, and grasslands and other habitat to be cleared, with little to no ramifications.

Remember, your submission can be short and personal. It doesn’t need to include too much detail. Good luck - and remember to BCC us!

Download submission guide