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?
The EPBC Act does not protect Koalas; they need the Koala Protection Act.
How could the principle of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) be better reflected in the EPBC Act? For example, could the consideration of environmental, social and economic factors, which are core components of ESD, be achieved through greater inclusion of cost benefit analysis in decision making?
Industry has not met the requirements of the current EPBC Act. If it had, Koala habitats would be safe and not being cleared at a rapid rate.
Should the objects of the EPBC Act be more specific?
The Koala does not have time for a review and needs the Koala Protection Act right now; it will lead the way to better protection for all species.
Should the matters of national environmental significance within the EPBC Act be changed? How?
Yes, include the Koala Protection Act.
Which elements of the EPBC Act should be priorities for reform? For example, should future reforms focus on assessment and approval processes or on biodiversity conservation? Should the Act have proactive mechanisms to enable landholders to protect matters of national environmental significance and biodiversity, removing the need for regulation in the right circumstances?
Yes, erect the Koala Protaction Act.
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?
The Koala Protection Act will protect Koala trees and habitat - it's that simple.
What additional future trends or supporting evidence should be drawn on to inform the review?
Standardised mapping of Koala habitat nationally.
Should the EPBC Act regulate environmental and heritage outcomes instead of managing prescriptive processes?
Yes, of course.
Should the EPBC Act position the Commonwealth to take a stronger role in delivering environmental and heritage outcomes in our federated system? Who should articulate outcomes? Who should provide oversight of the outcomes? How do we know if outcomes are being achieved?
The Koala Protaction Act articulates the answer to this question.
Should there be a greater role for national environmental standards in achieving the outcomes the EPBC Act seeks to achieve?
In our federated system should they be prescribed through:
Non-binding policy and strategies?
Expansion of targeted standards, similar to the approach to site contamination under the National Environment Protection Council, or water quality in the Great Barrier Reef catchments?
The development of broad environmental standards with the Commonwealth taking a monitoring and assurance role? Does the information exist to do this?
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?
Controlling industry to meet environmental standards instead of finding loopholes and ways around environmental protection and restoration.
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?
Respect for and reintroduction of the Indigenous traditional practices of managing the natural environment such as slow burns to manage regeneration of forests and avoid wild and catastrophic bushfires. We have so much to learn from Aboriginal elders.
Should the EPBC Act require the use of strategic assessments to replace case-by-case assessments? Who should lead or participate in strategic assessments?
Yes and have good mapping of Koala habitat.
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?
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?
There is no low risk project for koalas. Good mapping is essential.
Should the Commonwealth?s regulatory role under the EPBC Act focus on habitat management at a landscape-scale rather than species-specific protections?
Yes, the Koala Protection Act does this.
Should the EPBC Act be amended to enable broader accreditation of state and territory, local and other processes?
No, the States are incapable of protecting the koala - See 2011 Senate Report which made that point.
Are there adequate incentives to give the community confidence in self-regulation?
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?
We need to learn from Indigenous Australians how they have respected and managed the natural environment for thousands of years and introduce those ways of managing the land that have stood the test of time. Let them educate and lead us.
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?
Yes. Community representation should be increased.
What is the priority for reform to governance arrangements? The decision-making structures or the transparency of decisions? Should the decision makers under the EPBC Act be supported by different governance arrangements?
Legislation that is not complicated - the Koala Protection Act - it seeks to protect vegetation (habitat).
What innovative approaches could the review consider that could efficiently and effectively deliver the intended outcomes of the EPBC Act? What safeguards would be needed?
More knowledge and resources in the Department - that has been whittled away over the years.
Should the Commonwealth establish new environmental markets? Should the Commonwealth implement a trust fund for environmental outcomes?
The EPBC Act is supposed to protect species and habitats and enforce their protection by law. The whole world is watching how Australia manages and protects out unique natural environment, more so than ever, after the devastating bushfires broadcast all over the world last Summer. Once it's gone, we can't bring it back.
What do you see are the key opportunities to improve the current system of environmental offsetting under the EPBC Act?
Offsets do not work and should not be considered at this time in history. Offsets only appease industry.
How could private sector and philanthropic investment in the environment be best supported by the EPBC Act?
Could public sector financing be used to increase these investments?
What are the benefits, costs or risks with the Commonwealth developing a public investment vehicle to coordinate EPBC Act offset funds?
It does already and industry takes it all.
Do you have suggested improvements to the above principles? How should they be applied during the review and in future reform?
The Koala Protection Act.
Is the EPBC Act delivering what was intended in an efficient and effective manner?
How well is the EPBC Act being administered?
Not at all well and not in a consistent fashion.
Is the EPBC Act sufficient to address future challenges? Why?
It must include the Koala Protection Act - the recent fires have shown how important the Koala is to the landscape.
What are the priority areas for reform?
The Koala Protection Act that reverses the onus of proof onto the proponent, not the community.
What changes are needed to the EPBC Act? Why?
If the existing law was effective the koalas would be safe and their habitat would not be being cleared for industry at an alarming rate.
Is there anything else of importance to you that you would like the review to consider?
You have to keep large native forests intact and that can only happen with stronger legislation.