Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, this morning introduced a Private Members’ Bill to establish a Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority.
The Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority Bill 2021 will ensure that all administrative decision-making powers under our national environmental legislation are given to an independent EPA, arms-length from the Department and free from political interference. The EPA will be an ‘independent cop on the beat’ and will also undertake monitoring and compliance activities.
“Time and time again governments have failed to ensure effective enforcement of our environmental laws,” Mr Wilkie said. “This has been exposed by the Australian National Audit Office, the Productivity Commission, independent reviews of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, and the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law to name a few. And last year Professor Graeme Samuel’s Independent Review confirmed that the Australian public has lost faith in the system to protect our natural environment. This is playing out in real time as we watch our loved places and fragile ecosystems collapse, and our iconic animals become extinct. We need to act now.
“Today I’m introducing a bill which establishes a Commonwealth Environment Protection Authority. This EPA will be a completely independent body that depoliticises, streamlines and strengthens environmental regulation. It will be structurally independent from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, a move which will bolster community confidence in the processes that are supposed to protect and conserve our natural environment.
“I call on both major parties to support this bill. It’s practical, has community support, and will deliver real outcomes for our environment.”