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Abbot government’s long record of winding back environmental protections – environmental vandalism in progress

The Abbott Government has tabled a bill in parliament that will see more damage done to the environment.

The bill is the “Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014” The bill amends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 in relation to bilateral agreements by providing that: states and territories can be accredited for approval decisions on large coal mining and coal seam gas developments likely to have a significant impact on a water resource and leaving the environment vulnerable.

This adds to the list of Abbot’s right wing government winding back environmental protections.

Landcare funding — slashed by a third : $500 million lost by natural resource management bodies and landcare organisations who for years have been doing extraordinary expert work revegetating, cleaning up our waterways and dealing with the damage that has been done over past decades and centuries to Australia’s environment. It is yet another broken promise from a government of broken promises.

Delisting the Murray-below-Darling area: the area had been listed as a threatened ecological community following expert scientific advice from the threatened Species Scientific Committee, an application that had been before that committee for some years and had been the subject of public consultation, particularly in the Basin communities.

The Government initiated roll back of management plans of the world’s largest system of marine reserves: It is proper that the largest system of marine reserves in the world be in Australia, an island nation with extraordinary ocean environmental assets from the Great Barrier Reef to the Coral Sea right around through the Southern Ocean and the Indian Ocean on the west and the Pacific Ocean on the east. This was an extraordinary piece of work that was done over a very extended period of time with stakeholders, with communities. Communities on the coast of Queensland were told, the federal and state LNP governments, that their recreational fishing activities would be interrupted by these reserves, notwithstanding that the reserves in Queensland are hundreds of kilometres off the coast. another “great notch” on the belt for environmental protection.

ARENA: The Abbott government, when in opposition, assured the Australian people that the renewable energy agency, ARENA, had bipartisan support. The important work that this agency does in supporting emerging renewable energy technology—solar thermal technology, wave technology and geothermal technology—the important work that ARENA has done, was supported by the coalition. It was something where they put their hands on the hearts and said to the Australian people that it would not change if there were a change of government. Yet another broken promise, In MYEFO in December—the midyear economic and fiscal outlook—the Treasurer cut more than $400 million from ARENA’s budget.

This government has launched itself down a environmentally reckless path, this comes in the form of cutting funding to environmental programs but by also handing responsibility for the environment to state and territory governments.

If the plan proceeds with handing the States the responsibility of taking care of the environment, the federal government could not and would protect World Heritage areas from big mines nor threatened species from being sent to extinction by state governments approving major developments in key habitats.

It will put Premier Campbell Newman in Queensland in sole control of the world heritage great Barrier Reef; and it will put Premier Mike Baird in New South Wales in sole control of whether to send koalas to extinction.

The Right Wing Newman LNP government is an example of why state governments should not be trusted with managing our environment. Last week, the Queensland parliament considered rushed changes to the environmental approvals laws of the state which are complementary to the changes in this bill. The Newman government has attached the changes to a bill about a much less controversial topic.

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