The announcement that a draft memorandum of understanding streaming environmental approvals between the Federal and Queensland State Governments has been signed brings no joy to Wildlife Queensland.
‘Wildlife Queensland appreciates the necessity to achieve a balance among conservation of our biodiversity, provision for ecological sustainable industries and meeting community needs’ stated Des Boyland spokesperson for Wildlife Queensland. ‘However it is well recognised that this balance is not being achieved and it is well established that our biodiversity is in decline. The situation will become even worse when approval bilaterals are devolved to the State.’
It is Wildlife Queensland’s perspective that using powers under Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) the Federal Government at times serves the community extremely well minimising environmental harm.
‘Wildlife Queensland has advocated that the powers of the EPBC Act should be enhanced not weakened. Also it is essential for an independent umpire apart from States and Territories to assess proposed developments that impact on matters of national environmental significance.’ said Boyland.
The environment and its biodiversity do not recognise State or Territories borders and a whole of nation approach should be taken not a State by State approach:
‘Reasons for Wildlife Queensland’s view include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
- The various State and Territory environmental legislation is varied and standards are not as rigorous as they should be to minimise environmental harm
- Enforcement and compliance efforts vary considerably
- The Commonwealth has legal obligations under international law – not the States
- States and Territories can not provide the national leadership required
- In certain circumstances the States and Territories benefit from proposed developments or even in some cases are the actual proponents of the development and unquestionably ‘conflict of interest’ surfaces.
‘Wildlife Queensland recognises shortfalls in the current EPBC Act but devolving approval bilaterals to States is a retrograde step’ states Boyland.
‘The environment and its biodiversity have been under attack by the Newman Government since being elected. Now it appears that that the Federal Government is also turning its back on its responsibility’, concludes Boyland.
For more information on Wildlife Queensland’s activities, call us on +61 7 3221 0194 or send us an email.