Submission in response to discussion paper
Some have argued that past changes to the EPBC Act to add new matters of national environmental significance did not go far enough. Others have argued it has extended the regulatory reach of the Commonwealth too far. What do you think?
I think that the EPBC Act does not go far enough to protect and preserve our national natural environment.As it states in the Discussion Paper The Purpose of the EPBC Act is
It aims to protect and conserve Australia?s environment, biodiversity and heritage, and promote ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
What we can clearly see through various happenings in Australia from the opening of the Adani Coal mine and the water licence that was approved to take 60 million gallons of water a year in a drought stricken country across to what has recently been approved in Victoria - Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) are agreements between VIC State and Federal governments which give logging a special exemption from Federal environment laws (the EPBC Act). Where logging is going to take place in an already distressed fire ravaged bushland.
I can see that it is not doing what it is meant to.
Should the objects of the EPBC Act be more specific?
Yes clearer and more specific outlining what it is protecting how why and sticking to those decisions.
Should the matters of national environmental significance within the EPBC Act be changed? How?
I think this needs to be updated and improved.
There is no mention of Climate change, implementation stricter protection laws for logging of Ancient forest and much clearer guidelines and rules need to be put in place to protect our koala habitat who are nearing extinction,
What high level concerns should the review focus on? For example, should there be greater focus on better guidance on the EPBC Act, including clear environmental standards? How effective has the EPBC Act been in achieving its statutory objectives to protect the environment and promote ecologically sustainable development and biodiversity conservation? What have been the economic costs associated with the operation and administration of the EPBC Act?
As an overview i think that the EPBC Act is failing and badly at all of the above.
I elaborate more in other questions
What additional future trends or supporting evidence should be drawn on to inform the review?
What is important for the future and looking at what trends we can see is clearly the effects that climate change has on Australia.
We have personally witnessed the worst fire season on record, we have seen drought the worst it has ever been in Australia's history or looking back as far as 100yrs.
We can see sea levels rising, summers becoming hotter and longer than ever before and the detrimental effect this has on our wildlife and native bush land.
This is excelarated by the weak laws around logging our native bush land especially old growth forests.
What we can see currently happening in Tasmania in the Tarkine Forest which I have been closely monitoring is an example of lack of protection and lack of responsibility for our native bush land.
There is much evidence and more than enough scientific based evidence on the effects that excessive logging, relying on coal industry as our major source of energy and continuing to open new coal mines which is destroying our land, harming our indigenous people and killing our native wildlife.
We have the highest rate of extinction in the world clearly there is major flaws in the EPBC which need to be addressed. These are trends which we need to see an end to by improving and updating the EPBC.
Should the EPBC Act regulate environmental and heritage outcomes instead of managing prescriptive processes?
The Act should both regulate environmental and heritage outcomes with clear knowledge and impact of the outcome of what ever that decision may be.
For to long Industry and government have take priority over the environment.
If the EPBC doesn't start doing what it is meant to do then there will be nothing left to protect.
If the general public, Industry and Government are aware that there will be not accessions any more for the decimation of the environment then change will come.
Uncertainty and delays will subside once people start to think differently about how they go about development etc as it is time to start putting the environment first.
We cannot live without nature as we will soon find out if nothing is done.
How can environmental protection and environmental restoration be best achieved together?
Should the EPBC Act have a greater focus on restoration?
Should the Act include incentives for proactive environmental protection?
How will we know if we?re successful?
How should Indigenous land management practices be incorporated?
Protection and restoration go hand in hand.
Having a greater focus on restoration can start action taking place on rebuilding Australia towards a healthy natural environment, create jobs and make us leaders in regeneration towards a more hopeful future.
I think the Act should definitely include incentives for proactive environmental protection. This always works with the general community and the world at large!
We will know by seeing the way the land responds , reduction in endangered and extinction rates, regeneration of land etc
Indigenous land management practices can be incorporated by employing indigenous leaders to over see and instruct on how to implement proper ways of caring for land and country. They should be leading teams in various sectors to train and pass on knowledge.
Another way could be via training and teaching programs.
Are heritage management plans and associated incentives sensible mechanisms to improve? How can the EPBC Act adequately represent Indigenous culturally important places? Should protection and management be place-based instead of values based?
Indigenous culturally important places again need to be learnt about properly to understand their significance and more learning about these places should be incorporating into our schools so this becomes part of our culture as a whole country not divisive.
I think protection should be place and valued based again wholisitc approach is always needed.
Should the EPBC Act require the use of strategic assessments to replace case-by-case assessments? Who should lead or participate in strategic assessments?
I think that there should be experts in all fields assessing in case by case assessments to come to a more conclusive out come.
From land care management, threatened or endangered species protection, what the long term out come will be on the environment, communities and economy with all projects going forward.
It needs to be a complete wholistic approach for a outcome that will benefit all not just a one sided view that usually has the economy in mind.
Should the matters of national significance be refined to remove duplication of responsibilities between different levels of government? Should states be delegated to deliver EPBC Act outcomes subject to national standards?
I think that there should be strong and clear guidlines on a national level for the protection of the environment and natural world.
As we can see different states have different laws and this allows for weakness in a national view of preservation.
Should low-risk projects receive automatic approval or be exempt in some way? How could data help support this approach? Should a national environmental database be developed? Should all data from environmental impact assessments be made publicly available?
I think all data should be publicly available so there is room to assess what these low risk projects will have as this is a slightly grey area.
Should the Commonwealth?s regulatory role under the EPBC Act focus on habitat management at a landscape-scale rather than species-specific protections?
I think that that the Commonwealths regulatory role should cover both land scape scale and species protect as one must go with the other.
Are there adequate incentives to give the community confidence in self-regulation?
I think the more incentives that communities have to care for environment and to encourage people to preserve, protect and regenerate the environment they live in can only be beneficial I think more incentives would be greatly beneficial.
How should the EPBC Act support the engagement of Indigenous Australians in environment and heritage management?
How can we best engage with Indigenous Australians to best understand their needs and potential contributions?
What mechanisms should be added to the Act to support the role of Indigenous Australians?
First and foremost they must be listened to, respected and taken seriously about there knowledge of country, environment and the history of the native land of Australia.
Consulting Elders of communities and listening to their unique needs and requests to what they see and know is the best decision to protect, care for and understand the way the land works and should be treated.
There should be a distinct roles for Indigenous Australians who are experts in their field whether it be cultural burning to what to grow in what area to preserve soil integrity. They must play a leading role in the Act not just a back ground mention. Their knowledge is vast and far reaching of what we can comprehend and must be put to use.
How should community involvement in decision-making under the EPBC Act be improved? For example, should community representation in environmental advisory and decision making bodies be increased?
I think that more community involvement is essential and relying and taking use from reputable bodies such as ACF can give valuable insight.
It is vitally important for communities to be informed and updated on what is happening in their local areas and transparency is essential as this is what has been lacking - lack of information and final outcomes of various projects.
Do you have suggested improvements to the above principles? How should they be applied during the review and in future reform?
2) Making decisions easier sounds to broad and vague a term and suggests loose focus around protection for environment.
Decision making should be about what is best and most sustainable for the future of both the environment and for business/government. Using new and innovative ways of working together that protect and conserve our natural world securing a positive future for both our native wildlife and communities and business so least amount of harm is impacted. Let move towards a positive 2040 watch this movie get inspired of new ways of looking at our world!
Is the EPBC Act delivering what was intended in an efficient and effective manner?
I think it is not.
From what I have been witnessing in regards to development both in my local area of Sunshine Coast Queensland with mass clearing, loss of natural habitat for both kangaroos and Koalas ( and many more species) due to ongoing developments and highways.
I think we can see right across Australia the EPBC put simply is failing as an Act to protect the environment as it was set out to do, unfortunatly.
Is the EPBC Act sufficient to address future challenges? Why?
No it is not.
There is no mention in the Act of Climate Change, the laws are to weak to stop logging in our old growth forests with mass loss of habitat, it is still letting coal mines to be opened, poor water protection policies which are failing both our wildlife and our farmers.
As of course there are many good things the EPBC has done it is poorly equipped for the future problems we are facing in the current environment we live in.
What are the priority areas for reform?
Tighter laws and restrictions on coal mining operations
Bush fire management bringing in Indigenous knowledge to properly care for the land and prepare the land for fire season.
Tighter laws for logging - an end to old forest logging especially in areas where there are endangered species.
Better water conservation and management
What changes are needed to the EPBC Act? Why?
Is there anything else of importance to you that you would like the review to consider?
Australia leads the world on mammal extinction. We have experienced three animal extinctions since 2009, including the first made extinct by climate change (the Bramble Cay Melomys).
Since the EPBC Act came into operation, 7.7 million hectares of threatened species? habitat has been destroyed.
Australia is the only developed nation identified as global deforestation hotspot.
The 2016 State of Environment report highlighted that the outlook for Australia?s biodiversity is ?poor and worsening?
A significant overhaul is needed and we do not think this can be achieved by amendments to the EPBC Act. Instead, a new generation of strong environment laws and institutions are required that genuinely protect our rivers, reefs, forests and wildlife, increase biodiversity and regulate pollution. A new adequately resourced legal framework would guarantee environmental decisions are transparent and that governments and vested interests could be held to account when they fail to meet their obligations