Media Release Marine Conservation

Promised nature law reform urgently needed so new national EPA not stuck with failed laws

May 29, 2024
  • Current nature laws are failing oceans, endangered species, Great Barrier Reef
  • EPA alone will not deliver on promise of zero extinctions – Albanese government must commit to full package of legislation this term

The Albanese government must urgently deliver the promised nature law reform to ensure the proposed and vital national environment protection agency is not stuck administering the existing environment laws that have failed nature and endangered species, the Australian Marine Conservation Society said today after the government tabled legislation to establish Environment Protection Australia and a new environmental data division, Environment Information Australia.

AMCS Fisheries and Threatened Species Campaign Manager Alexia Wellbelove said: “The government’s proposed new environmental institutions, Environment Protection Australia and Environment Information Australia, are essential and welcome, but on their own they will not protect nature and enable the government to meet its commitment to zero new extinctions. Our coasts, oceans and wildlife urgently need the full package of legislation, so a new EPA can uphold and enforce effective laws.

Our current federal environment laws, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, are failing nature. The EPBC Act has failed to protect the Maugean skate, which is hurtling towards extinction, with salmon farming increasing 20-fold in its only home after it was declared endangered. Those laws are also failing the Great Barrier Reef, where tree clearing in Reef catchments continues to send sediment into Reef waters when the World Heritage natural icon is already fighting for its life.

“We need new environment laws that actually protect and restore nature and give our endangered species such as the Australian sea lion, Maugean skate, red handfish and threatened ecosystems a fighting chance.

“The Great Barrier Reef is suffering an unprecedented fifth mass coral bleaching in just eight years, so it’s imperative that new environment laws protect nature from the impacts of climate change.

“The Albanese Government must introduce the full package of new nature laws before the election, and urgently release a clear plan and timeline for the development and delivery of the key, outstanding components of the reforms to the EPBC Act.

“Australia’s precious oceans and threatened wildlife need a strong Environment Protection Australia and the government must ensure it is effective, independent and accountable. It must ensure Environment Information Australia establishes a strong basis for implementing ‘nature positive’ laws and tracks progress against nature positive goals.”