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Australian states unable to protect nature and world heritage sites – report



A coalition of NGOs has argued that every state and territory in Australia fails to implement environmental laws at the Commonwealth standards and address World Heritage Conventions, putting ecosystem and threatened species at risk.

The report Assessment of the adequacy of threatened species & planning laws has been released by the Places You Love Alliance, a coalition of 42 Australian NGOs.

The organisations found that no state or territory law meets the requirements of federal threatened species protection. As well as this, threatened species lists are incomplete and no state legislation fully meets Commonwealth standards for biodiversity offsets.

Furthermore, World Heritage Conventions are not adequately addressed and there are no laws to prevent harmful development or energy projects from being authorised, regardless of if they harm the environment, the report finds.

Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation and spokesperson for the Places You Love Alliance, said, “This comprehensive analysis of every state and territory shows not one is capable of meeting national standards.

“A responsible government strengthens – not weakens – protection for the places we love for future generations.

“Unfortunately the Abbott government seems intent on weakening our environmental laws – nature’s vital safeguards – to pave the way for big business profits.

“Responsibility for assessing environmental impacts of large scale developments should rest with the Commonwealth.”

Australia has been criticised recently over a proposal to dump dredge spoil into the Great Barrier Reef – later dropped – and the move to open up 400,000 hectares of protected Tasmania forest for logging.

O’Shanassy added, “States reliant on royalties and other income from large development projects are not in a position to make impartial decisions in the national interest. We also know states are not resourced to deliver or enforce proper environmental standards. 

“No state or territory government should be left to make decisions that impact Australia’s critically threatened species and most important natural places.  They belong to all Australians.”

Photo: Paul Toogood via flickr

Further reading:

Tasmanian forests opened for logging despite conservationist efforts

Abbot Point port developers to shelve Great Barrier Reef dredging plan

Unesco decision on Australian Great Barrier reef protection delayed until 2015

Unesco blocks Australia’s proposals to open up Tasmanian rainforest to logging

Australia approves $16m Carmichael coal mine despite environmental concerns


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