Greens push environmental protection as top priority for next Government

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The Australian Greens are committed to real protection and restoration of our environment, backed up by solid investment and a plan to make Australia a climate hero, not a climate villain.

“The environment has been ignored by successive governments. We are seeing mass species extinction, habitat loss and the degradation of our national landscape and waterways. It is time to give the environment the protection and value it deserves,” Greens environment spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“We have listened to the advice of The Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL) to develop new laws that will protect and restore the environment. While the Labor Party has signalled support for strengthening our environmental laws, a strong Greens presence in the next Senate will hold them to implementing APEELs blueprint.

 “We have a plan for a cleaner, healthier planet. We will create a tough, independent environmental watchdog that can enforce a new generation of laws. Our Environmental Protection Authority will be a cop-on-the-beat, enforcing real consequences for corporations that put communities and our environment at risk. An independent Environment Commission will tell us where money should be spent, how much we need and whether it’s working.

“Too often our natural world is exploited. In just the last few months we have seen the Murray Darling in collapse with unprecedented fish kills, the world's first climate related extinction here in Australia, protected wetlands up for sale and threatened birds exported to dodgy collectors. There is little consideration given to protecting and preserving nature by a Liberal Government that gives more in fuel subsidies to the mining industry than they spend on the environment.

“With a Labor Government the most likely outcome of the next election, it is vital we have a strong Greens team in the Senate to make sure protecting the environment is prioritised both in law and funding. We will always stand up to the fossil fuels lobby, corporate irrigators and keep up the fight to end new coal, oil and gas projects.

“Our care for the environment should be based on facts, not the whims of the government of the day. We need to get down to the business of restoring ecosystems, addressing climate breakdown and making sure we leave a thriving planet. We are living with the effects of climate change right here and now, this is about our children as much as future generations. We cannot continue down our current path if our planet is to survive.

“We have a plan, because we know we can be the generation that saves the planet.”

 A tough new environment watchdog

The Greens will introduce a new generation of environmental laws overseen by an independent regulatory body with real power to enforce environmental laws.

The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is a relic of the Howard era. We need a new generation of environmental laws that actually protect our shared natural resources, our wild places and our threatened species.

The Greens will provide real protection for our animals, land, air and water with a national Environmental Protection Authority with real teeth to enforce the law and provide independent expert advice, at arm’s length from the influence of politicians and the big business lobby.

Backing this Authority, the Greens’ new environmental laws would expand federal responsibility for:

•          National parks and reserves, including critical habitats, climate refugees and national biodiversity hotspots;

•          Vulnerable ecological communities;

•          Impacts from land clearing;

•          Greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution;

•          Water resources (including rivers, wetlands and aquifers);

•          Ecosystems and wetlands of national significance;

•          Invasive species.

These new laws will also allow increased community access to justice by implementing “open standing” for people and communities to challenge environmentally damaging decisions in court, without risking huge costs in public interest cases.

 
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