Centre Alliance draws line in sand over environment reform laws

22 Feb 2021
EPBC Act 2021 version 4

Centre Alliance has drawn a line in the sand over the Government’s proposed changes to Federal environmental laws, saying we will not support attempts to streamline approval processes until effective national environmental standards are legislated and an independent commissioner has been established.

Centre Alliance’s Environment Spokeswoman, Rebekha Sharkie MP, and Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff have joined other Crossbench Senators, Jacqui Lambie and Rex Patrick, in setting out their position in writing today to the Environment Minister Sussan Ley.

“We’ve told the Minister that the changes proposed by the Government’s Streamlining Environmental Approvals Bill and the upcoming Standards and Assurance Bill, and other amendments, have to be considered holistically,” Senator Stirling Griff said.

“The Senate shouldn’t be debating the streamlining approvals legislation until the Government has strong and effective national environmental standards in place and they have created a genuinely independent Environmental Assurance Commissioner.”

Rebekha said Centre Alliance continued to have concerns about the Government’s approach to changing the Environment Protection Conservation (EPBC) Act in response to the independent review by Professor Graeme Samuel.

“The Government hasn’t produced a formal, comprehensive response to Professor Samuel’s review and there has been no opportunity for public consultation on the proposed national standards or the design of the position of an independent Environmental Assurance Commissioner.

“The EPBC Act is the cornerstone of Australian environmental law and Professor Samuel’s report is clear these laws are ineffective; and Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in an overall state of decline and are under increasing threat.

“Effective, legally enforceable National Environmental Standards should be the foundation and we need an independent umpire before you start streamlining state approval processes.

“We want to achieve stronger environmental protections and a better protection framework.

“Until we have legislated standards and an independent commissioner in place, Centre Alliance cannot support the Government’s current agenda concerning amendments to the EPBC Act.”

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