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Will the Albanese Government deliver what nature needs?

May 9, 2024

The Albanese Government has finally announced their next steps on nature law reforms, but is it too little, too late for the critically endangered Maugean skate?

For years, we’ve been campaigning for stronger national nature laws, specifically the reform of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act). It’s a tough fight, as law reform can be complex and dry, and big businesses have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Stronger nature laws are crucial for protecting and restoring Australia’s diverse ecosystems, which extend beyond the iconic koalas and trees to encompass lesser-known but equally vital species and ecosystems like kelp and our endemic sharks and rays like the Maugean skate. 

The Maugean skate: a species on the brink

The Maugean skate is staring down the barrel of extinction, largely due to the failures of the EPBC Act. Salmon farming has decimated their habitat, poor water quality is suffocating them, and time is running out.

Check out the infographic below to see how the EPBC Act has failed to protect this incredible species, which is only found in our waters:

“No new extinctions”

In October 2020, Professor Samuel’s damning review of the EPBC Act highlighted its inadequacy in protecting nature, particularly against the interests of big businesses. Since then, the Australian conservation movement, spearheaded by organisations like AMCS, has tirelessly pushed for meaningful change.

The Albanese Government’s election promise to deliver comprehensive environmental law reforms sparked hope among environmentalists. Progress was slow but in 2022 the government launched their ‘Threatened Species Action Plan: Towards Zero Extinctions’ – an ambitious plan to prevent any new native animal or plant extinctions. Yet, after more waiting, consultations and promises, the recent announcement of two draft bills focused on the Environmental Protection Agency and Environment Information Australia fell short of our expectations of a full reform package.

A phased approach: a start, but not enough

After two years of waiting, the Albanese Government has announced a phased approach to reforming the EPBC Act. While this is a good start, it falls short of the comprehensive package of reforms needed to protect nature. The next phase (dubbed stage 2) includes two draft bills that will establish a data division and a federal environmental protection agency, but what nature needs urgently is the full legislative reform package of all five proposed bills to prevent extinctions.

What nature needs – we’re tracking government progress

We’ve created a handy scorecard to track the government’s progress on the reforms nature needs. Check it out below and we’ll keep you updated on their progress.

The risk: will crucial environmental issues be left unaddressed?

The biggest risk is that the government won’t be able to deliver the full reform package of legislation before the next election is called, leaving the reforms incomplete and crucial environmental issues unaddressed. The urgency is palpable, especially for species like the Maugean skate.

Time is running out

We need sustained public pressure on the government to fulfil its promise of delivering the entire reform package during this political term, which ends before the next election which must be held before 27 September 2025. The clock is ticking, and the pressure is on to enact meaningful change and secure a sustainable future for Australia’s natural heritage.

What you can do to help

Sign our petition which will be delivered to the Albanese Government in June, and tell them you support the delivery of the urgent reforms nature needs this term. Together, we can ensure Australia’s environmental laws are strengthened and vital protections are put in place before it’s too late for species like the Maugean skate.