LEAN was thrilled that in the last week of the Federal election campaign Environment Minister, Mark Butler announced that Labor would investigate ways to ensure the national environment laws gave proper protection to our National Parks. These are the best of our natural places and deserve protection.
LEAN campaigned throughout 2013 for changes to the national laws so that the Federal Government could step in to protect National Parks when needed. Currently National Parks are the responsibility of state Governments. Aross the country conservative state Governments are threatening parks with grazing, logging and shooting. Sadly, of course, Labor lost the Federal election but LEAN looks forward to working with Federal Labor to build strong policy along the lines of what the Minister has said below.
Campaign Media Release
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Water Mark Butler
LABOR COMMITS TO PROTECTING AUSTRALIA’S NATIONAL PARKS
The Rudd Labor Government is committed to robust environmental laws. These laws protect our iconic landscapes - reefs, forests, bushland, beaches and oceans, and the unique wildlife that call these ecosystems home.
Greater environmental protection for the unique biodiversity and environment within Australia’s National Parks will be investigated by a re-elected Rudd Labor Government.
“Our National Parks should be places we can enjoy with our friends and family, places where we enjoy nature and places that protect our environment for future generations,” Mr Butler said.
“There is growing community expectation that these vital links with our natural heritage will continue to be better protected from detrimental activities.”
A number of Coalition state governments have recently allowed activity in our National Parks that the vast majority of Australians would think is inconsistent with their protection.
As a result, a re-elected Rudd Labor Government would prioritise Australia’s National Parks and form a time-limited Expert Advisory Committee to inquire into how best to ensure protection for some of our favourite places to visit. The Committee would consist of representative members from industry, government and the environment.
The Committee will consult with environmental groups, Indigenous communities, Traditional Owners, primary industries, State Governments, the tourism industry, landholders and other stakeholders.
Mr Butler said two options for consideration by the Committee would be amending the existing Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act or to establish a new legislative framework encompassing Australia’s National Parks.
“There are a number of avenues the Committee may choose to pursue, but their final recommendations will inform the approach a Federal Labor Government would take to further protect our National Parks,” Mr Butler said.
“By considering a broad range of evidence, the Committee would be able to provide the Federal Labor Government with a measured way forward to respond to the pressures on our National Parks ensuring greater protections for the biodiversity they contain.”
Federal Labor believes that Australia’s National Parks are there for both the protection of our biodiversity and for the enjoyment of Australian families.
The National Reserve System is made up of Commonwealth, State and Territory reserves, Indigenous lands and protected areas run by non-profit conservation organisations.
Costs of the Committee’s inquiry are expected to be $2.4 million over two years and will be offset from unallocated funding in the Biodiversity Fund.
3 SEPTEMBER 2013