THE DEMOCRATS have joined conservationists’ criticism of a Bill that will be “bulldozed” through the senate even though a Government majority report admits it will seriously weaken the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
“The Government majority report admits that the lack of resources to properly enforce and implement the Act is a serious concern and has recommended a review of resources, but will not prevent the Bill from being bulldozed through the senate,” Democrats Environment spokesperson Senator Andrew Bartlett said.
The Democrats labelled the majority Committee report of government senators on the 409 pages of amendments to the Act “another display of arrogance and a threat to democracy and the environment”.
The Bill weakens the Act’s ability to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and excessive water extraction, said Senator Bartlett. “This is unwise when the challenges facing our natural environment like climate change and water shortages are becoming ever more serious,” he said.
He argued that the Government could put development ahead of threatened species and heritage sites without proper public scrutiny and accountability.
Conservationists have also attacked the shakeup of the laws. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia said earlier this month that the changes would give too much power to the assigned environment minister, and would fail to strengthen protections of the environment.