Labor has consistently stated that we would work constructively on the reform process and consider any sensible proposals. Australia can’t afford to allow the alarming environmental decline that we have seen under the Liberals and Nationals.
But the Morrison Government is more interested in politics than solutions.
This once in a decade review of environmental legislation is calling for urgent reforms to prevent the continued extinction of Australia’s plants, animals and ecosystems.
Instead of genuine reform consistent with the recommendations of the independent review that has been conducted by Professor Graeme Samuel, the Morrison Government has simply rehashed Tony Abbott’s failed 2014 environment bill, which would harm Australia’s natural environment and put jobs and investment at risk.
Unfortunately, Scott Morrison has politicised, compromised and bungled the environment law reform process.
So far, Mr Morrison has:
- pre-empted the findings of their own independent review, after it was revealed they began commissioning legislation before the interim report was even finalised;
- rammed the failed Abbott bill through the lower house and gagged debate;
- ignored and cherry-picked the recommendations of Samuel’s independent review by failing to introduce National Environment Standards as the foundation of reform, and then ruled out a genuinely independent cop on the beat for our environment;
- broken their promise to introduce National Environment Standards at the same time as other changes;
- left the Abbott bill to languish in the Senate for months, without putting it to a vote;
- voted against a Senate inquiry into the impact of the bill on the environment and jobs, and then backflipped to support a sham inquiry, which lasted just hours.
Professor Graeme Samuel handed his review to government in October last year, but the Morrison Government quietly released it on 28 January 2021.
Strong National Environment Standards and a genuinely independent ‘cop on the beat’ for the environment were the foundation of Professor Samuel’s proposed reforms.
The need for reform is urgent because this government’s record on the environment is woeful, given it has:
- slashed 40 per cent from environment department funding, smashing its capacity to protect Australia’s environment;
- presided over Australia’s escalating environmental crisis, with NSW koala populations at risk of extinction and Australia’s threatened species in decline;
- presided over an explosion of 510 per cent in job and investment delays through unnecessary environmental decision blow-outs;
- delivered a staggering 95 per cent of environmental approval decisions late and outside statutory timeframes in 2018-19; and
- made environmental decisions that contained errors or were non-compliant in 79 per cent of approvals.
Labor has called on the Morrison Government to:
- introduce strong National Environmental Standards;
- establish a genuinely independent ‘cop on the beat’ for Australia’s environment; and
- fix the explosion in unnecessary 510 per cent job and investment delays caused by their massive funding cuts.
Labor’s shadow cabinet and caucus will carefully consider the Samuel Review Final Report’s recommendations and any government response.
If Scott Morrison was serious about securing broad support and durable reform, he would not be rehashing Tony Abbott’s failed 2014 bill.
Every major achievement in environmental protection in this nation’s history has been delivered by a Labor government. Only Labor has the will, and the capacity, to protect Australia’s environment.
Labor’s legacy in government is that we protected the Daintree, Kakadu, the Great Barrier Reef, the Franklin and Antarctica. We created Landcare, and we created the largest network of marine parks in the world.