‘One-stop shop’ will weaken environmental protection’



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MEDIA RELEASE  13 December, 2013

 ‘One-stop shop’ will weaken environmental protection

The Prime Minister’s move to sign memoranda of understandings to hand environmental powers to the state and territory governments will weaken environmental protection, environmental organisations warned today.

The Places You Love alliance, which represents more than 40 environmental groups are also concerned by agreements the Commonwealth has already signed with Queensland and NSW.

The Federal Government is demonstrating through the implementation of these plans that it is intent on weakening environmental protection in this country. The government’s actions this week show its deep disregard for the environment and expert scientific advice. This was demonstrated by their choice of politics over science in choosing to disallow two important threatened ecological community nominations, the “River Murray and associated wetlands, floodplains and groundwater systems, from the junction of the Darling River to the sea”, along with the “Wetlands and inner floodplains of the Macquarie Marshes” which were proposed to be listed as critically endangered communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Topping this off was the approval of the world’s biggest coal port at Abbot Point and adding another massive gas processing plant at Gladstone, all in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It’s also threatening to revoke the new Tasmania forest World Heritage Area.

“Cash-strapped states don’t have the resources to run rigorous environmental approval processes. Just this year the Western Australian Supreme Court ruled that the WA Government had acted illegally in approving the proposed gas plant at James Price Point in the Kimberley.

“State governments are also watering down laws that protect our precious environment, our wildlife and clean air and water.

“The Victorian Government wants to allow cows back into the Alpine National Park, the Queensland Government is amending laws to allow more land clearing, NSW will allow the burning of native forests for electricity and Queensland is revoking the Wild River declarations that protect some of the last free-flowing rivers on the planet.”

“Without federal powers to override the states, the Franklin River, the Daintree Rainforest and Fraser Island would have been destroyed, and the Great Barrier Reef would be dotted with oil rigs.

“The vast majority of Australian ‑ 85 per cent ‑ said the Federal Government should be able to block or make changes to major projects that could damage the environment, according to a Lonergan Research poll.

The Senate Committee inquiry into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 found this year that environmental standards would be put at risk if federal approval powers were delegated, and that duplication in federal-state approval processes is minimal. No existing state or territory legislation currently meets the suite of standards necessary to effectively protect matters of national environmental significance.”

For further comment contact:

Wilderness Society National Campaigner Glen Klatovsky on 0410 482 243

 For more information, contact Wilderness Society media adviser Alex Tibbitts on 0416 420 168

  SCEC is a Places you Love Alliance member Visit:  Places you Love