EARTH FIRST: Our laws for nature are vulnerable

Better Protected: We need national laws that work to protect our natural environment, based on scientific research rather than political expediency.

Better Protected: We need national laws that work to protect our natural environment, based on scientific research rather than political expediency.

As our National Anthem states “Our land abounds with nature’s gifts, it’s beauty rich and rare.”

We are blessed with unique plants and animals which are found in 16 world heritage sites and more than 500 national parks.

Caring for our  flora and fauna requires strong environmental laws.

Unfortunately, legal protection for our native plants and animals is being weakened, as our Federal Government devolves more legal environmental approval, assessment and enforcement to state and territory governments.

Unfortunately, Australia’s “nature’s gifts” are constantly under threat. Australia leads the world in extinction, with the highest number of mammals declared extinct since European invasion.

Across the continent our native biodiversity is declining, habitat destruction pushes our native species closer to extinction each day.

The invasion of feral species continues to push out our native birds and animals.

Programs to prevent this are under-resourced.

This is because our national laws are inadequate to protect them.

Our water tables are being irreparably damaged by poorly regulated resource projects at the same time that our rivers are struggling to sustain the wildlife, farmers and communities that depend on them.

On the global environmental democracy index which measures transparency, participation, and justice in environmental decision making Australia ranks thirty seventh, below Mongolia, Camaroon, Zimbabwe and Russia.

At the heart of these problems, are weak and outdated laws for nature.

Polluting companies, logging, agribusiness and developers are allowed to destroy our environment, with very little accountability for the damage they do or responsibility to repair it.

Our environmental laws are such that they frequently ignore environmental science and are able to be challenged by those who have the legal resources to do so, forcing everyday concerned citizens to go through lengthy and expensive legal processes.

Our environmental laws are vulnerable to influence from powerful vested interests who have the power and means to influence political decision making in a number of ways.

The result is frequently made decisions which consider the economic outcomes at the expense of the environment.

We need national laws that work to protect our natural environment, based on scientific research rather than political expediency, that strengthen our democracy and support community involvement, are rigorously and consistently enforced, and are not open to manipulation and misinterpretation.

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