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?
Given the horrendous bushfires Australia experienced over 2019-2020, with more to come, the EPBC Act must include preventative measures including acting on climate change.
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?
Yes, there should be greater focus on protecting the environment. Water resources are currently a matter of national environmental significance. Consideration should be given to expanding the water trigger. Not only that but here should be no consideration for using water for mining coal or coal seam gas as our economy could be built on renewables which don't use up our dwindling supply of water.
What additional future trends or supporting evidence should be drawn on to inform the review?
The ever accelerating effects of climate change.
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?
Yes. Our First Nations people should be involved in anything involving indigenous sacred sites, rock art etc. They should provide oversight of the outcomes and assessment of them in conjunction with Sustainability Commission with advice from expert bodies such as the Threatened Species Scientific Committee and expert advisory committees. They should not be coerced by the offers of money or other intrinsic bribes from mining companies or other when it comes to their own heritage.
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?
Yes, indigenous land management practices should be incorporated. Anglo-Saxon farming methods and other practices are not suited to our land. This has become very obvious with the sad state of the Murray Darling River system. It has also become obvious that we should have taken notice of indigenous burning practices to help prevent catastrophic bushfires.
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?
The Act should establish new mechanisms, in accordance with its objects, to better recognise and promote Indigenous environmental management and consensual knowledge- sharing. Subject to consultation, this could include:
1. an Indigenous Land and Waters Commissioner and an Indigenous Cultural Heritage Advisory Council to support the proposed Sustainability Commission;
2. Requirements for free prior informed consent informed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (to which Australia is a signatory); and
3. Formal legal recognition of Indigenous Protected Areas as matters of national environmental significance, with long-term funding.
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?
Along with other elements of the National Reserve System, IPAs should be recognised as matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act.
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?
The Act must include a range of key safeguards to ensure public participation, transparency, accountability and access to justice. In particular:
? strong public participation provisions;
? merits review for key decisions;
? easily accessible, timely public information on actions and decisions;
? open standing to review legal errors and enforce breaches;51 and
? protective costs orders.
Should the Commonwealth establish new environmental markets? Should the Commonwealth implement a trust fund for environmental outcomes?
Yes, the Commonwealth should implement a trust fund for environmental outcomes.
What do you see are the key opportunities to improve the current system of environmental offsetting under the EPBC Act?
The Act should not permit biodiversity offsetting of impacts on critical habitat, endangered or critically endangered species and ecological communities.
What are the priority areas for reform?
Changing over to a Green New Deal which is an economy based on renewal energy, not fossil fuels, involving a transition with training for new jobs and compensation of workers getting out of the fossil fuel industry.