Australian Wildlife Conservancy
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 consideration of past changes to the Act is irrelevant. The Act has, by any measure, failed to protect Australia's flora and fauna. Species continue to go extinct and more species are added to the threatened list. There must be fundamental change to the Act - including a refocus on the objectives and outcomes - that is, protecting Australia's native wildlife.
Should the objects of the EPBC Act be more specific?
The Act must be refocused to an outcomes driven process.
Should the EPBC Act regulate environmental and heritage outcomes instead of managing prescriptive processes?
AWC proposes that the Act should focus on outcomes rather than processes. A focus on outcomes would facilitate development of market-based approaches to meeting the objects of the Act. The Commonwealth can play an important role in developing relevant markets - funding the acquisition of relevant information, setting standards and accreditation, and participating in the market for the public good.
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?
As noted previously, AWC proposes that a market-based approach may better achieve the objectives of the Act than the current regulatory framework. A market-based approach would create value for proactive environmental protection, such that landholders and managers would have an incentive to conserve threatened species. It would be expected that such a market would extend to restoration (for example, as offsets).
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?
Private sector and philanthropic investment in the environment would be promoted by a well-designed market-based approach.
Is the EPBC Act delivering what was intended in an efficient and effective manner?
In AWC's view, a broad assessment of the Act must assume that it has failed to protect Australian native wildlife and species. Whilst the Act provides a mechanism of listing species and identifying those at risk, it has failed to reverse the tide of extinctions.
Is the EPBC Act sufficient to address future challenges? Why?
Given the EPBC Act has not stemmed the current tide of extinctions, it is unlikely to be sufficient to meet future challenges, given presumed acceleration of impacts on the environment (increasing population, consumption, climate change).
What are the priority areas for reform?
There have previously been reviews of the Act, with little apparent meaningful change. We believe that minor changes to the existing act are not going to solve the current issues. We need wholesale reform to the Act to make it more dynamic, responsive and applicable to current (and emerging) environmental situations.
The full text of this submission including the attachment can be downloaded using the ‘download pdf’ link in the sidebar of this page.