Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, says the catastrophic state of Australia’s environment laid bare in an alarming new report underlines the need for urgent action on climate change and the establishment of a new Environment Protection Authority.
“A surge in threatened species and extinction risk, collapsing ecosystems, habitat loss and widespread degradation are all very clear signs that we are already in the thick of an environmental emergency turbo-charged by climate change,” Mr Wilkie said. “The fact that the previous Federal Government sat on this latest State of the Environment report since December, when time is of the essence, is nothing short of appalling.
“While Labor is making all the right noises, the heat is now on the new Government to take swift and decisive action. This means ensuring greenhouse gases and climate impacts are captured under Australia’s environmental law framework and considered in all levels of assessment and decision-making. It means protecting our forests by removing the exemption for federal oversight of native forests and investing in better data collection and monitoring. Immediate action to slow and reverse extinction rates must be a priority.
“We also need an independent Environment Protection Authority that operates at arm’s length from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and is free from political interference, such as the model I put forward in a private member’s bill last year.
“Time and time again successive governments have failed to ensure effective enforcement of our environmental laws. Australia’s environmental crisis continues to play out in real time as we watch our precious places and fragile ecosystems collapse, our iconic animals become extinct, and we witness more and more extreme weather events. We cannot sit idly by as this destruction continues unabated. The time to act is now.”