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International concern at imminent changes to Australia's National Environment law (EPBC Act)

David Attenborough and other renowned conservation figures have urged PM Gillard to retain National Environment Powers. At the moment changes devolving major decision making to our growth-mad developer states are imminent. The writers of a letter to the Primeminister say that their concern arises particularly due to Australia being "one of a very few biologically mega-diverse developed countries on the face of this Earth. The array of natural ecosystems and their component species is simply breathtaking, making Australia one of the most important and exciting places in the world for the long-term conservation of biological diversity." See also this article which contains links to petitions etc.

Sir David Attenborough urges Prime Minister not to abandon National Environment Powers

Today, 23 November, 2012, 33 United Nations Environment Program Global 500 Laureates (elected to the UNEP Global 500 Roll of Honour in recognition of outstanding practical achievement in the protection of the environment) delivered Prime Minister Gillard a letter urging her not to abandon national environmental protection and devolve powers to state and territory Governments.

Among the signatories are Sir David Attenborough and five of the world’s most influential conservation biologists: Drs Paul and Anne Ehrlich from Stanford University, Dr Peter Raven, President Emeritus of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Professor Tom Lovejoy from George Mason University in Washington DC, and Professor Norman Myers from Green College, Oxford University. These are the men and women - the pioneer whistle blowers, who told of the massive loss of species and habitats facing the planet, and of the threat of climate change - going back nearly 40 years.

Also signing on is Veit Koester, who successfully and brilliantly chaired the global negotiations for the Convention on Biological Diversity, the treaty that provided the “head of power” for the Commonwealth’s powerful Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (EPBC Act). Joining the 33 signatories is prominent Australian Dr Don McMichael CBE, who chaired the inaugural Federal Biological Diversity Advisory Committee, which prepared the very first draft “National Biological Diversity Conservation Strategy” for Australia.

In their letter the Global 500 Laureates state: “We have been concerned to hear however that there are proposals in train to weaken the EPBC Act and to allow the states and territories to approve developments affecting Matters of National Environment Significance without any Commonwealth oversight. We believe this would be a retrograde step in relation to the development of environmental law in Australia, with significant and negative implications for the conservation of biological diversity and achieving ecologically sustainable development”.

The letter, organised by Humane Society International (HSI) Director and Global 500 Laureate, Verna Simpson, has been presented to the Prime Minister just weeks before the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meets in early December, to discuss the ongoing administrative process for handing over Commonwealth environmental powers, which has a March 2013 deadline. The Government appears not to be listening to Australia’s professional environmental community, but this letter clearly indicates the global concern for the potential deterioration of effective national environmental regulation in Australia.

The Global 500 Laureates concluded: “The individual and organisational UNEP Global 500 Laureates below would like to offer our support for a continuation of your Government’s efforts to develop best possible policies and practices for the conservation of biological diversity through the maintenance of the current powers contained within the EPBC Act, and to avoid, at all costs, the devolution of such powers”.

You can read the full letter here: Letter entitled, "Strong national environmental protection laws".

See also this article which contains links to petitions etc.


This article was based on a press release from the Humane Society International (HSI).
HSI concentrates on the preservation of endangered animals and ecosystems and works to ensure quality of life for all animals, both domestic and wild. HSI is the largest animal protection not-for-profit organisation in the world, with over 10 million supporters globally and has been established in Australia since 1994.

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There seems to be a malignant growth-gene in humans. What other animals want to keep expanding and destroying other species at the rate humans do it? What moral and ethical justification can there be to continually destroy habitats and kill other animals? Like Agent Smith in The Matrix says, humans are acting like viruses or bacteria. They spread, destroy, continually multiply and then more on to new frontiers to do the same and spread the malign influence. It’s just a fact that we can’t take all the people who want to come and settle in Australia. Economic growth can't be at the expense of our planet. What species would destroy their own piece of the universe through deliberate excessive behaviors?

The world’s human population doubled from 1 to 2 billion between 1800 and 1930, and then doubled again by 1975. At the end of October 2011, it surpassed 7 billion. Ending human population growth is the way to stop the planetary extinction crisis wiping out rare plants and animals around the world. Explosive, unsustainable human population growth is an essential root cause of this crisis. This has gotten so bad that currently 200 species a day are becoming extinct. This is a bigger problem than asking how we are going to feed 10 billion mouths in the next few decades. Not only animals, but we ourselves are eating away at our own habitats.

While the wildlife-conservation movement is valiantly attempting to save the world’s remaining diversity of life, this effort is overwhelmed by the demands of mounting numbers of people. The obvious solution of birth control and family planning remains largely unknown or ignored due to a heritage of our ancient customs and religious beliefs. Being locked into the habits of the past, and viral multiplication rates, must end unless we all become victims of extinction.

While Australia, a land rich in diversity, is losing species at world-record levels, our population growth is heading forwards at break-neck speed. Since the Howard era, immigration levels have undemocratically and stealthfully been increasing, under the media radar and sheltered by asylum seekers. Wildlife, especially in semi-urban areas and those under threats from agriculture, can't compete. With State governments largely under the heavy political control of property developers and businesses, they will dilute any "red tape" such as the EPBC Act protecting even national parks and coastal reserves - for "development" opportunities and housing.