Urgent reform needed to protect Australian animals

29/01/2021

The long-awaited findings from the Review into Australia’s national environmental laws have finally been released, urging government action to better protect Australia’s unique wild animals.

‘Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in an overall state of decline and are under increasing threat.’

Top image: NOMADasaurus

Last year, more than 14,000 of you demanded better environmental protection laws to help protect Australian animals. It’s clear from the final report that your voices for animals were heard. The review concluded that Australia’s national environmental laws are ineffective.

The review lead by Professor Graeme Samuel states that ‘Australia’s natural environment and iconic places are in an overall state of decline and are under increasing threat.’

Extinction is forever and it’s never been clearer that the time to act to protect wild animals is right now! Speaking about the risk to threatened species, the review devastatingly found that once animals are listed as ‘threatened’, ‘not enough is done to deliver improved protection for them. The review went on to stress the importance of legally enforceable National Environmental Standards. The review held that failure to evolve these standards ‘means accepting the continued decline of our iconic places and the extinction of our most threatened plants, animals and ecosystems.’

Importantly, the review also calls for oversight by the Environment Assurance Commissioner. This person would be responsible for ensuring laws and standards were being followed. It would help offer greater protection to animals in need.

Australian Government failing to protect wild animals and the environment

Alarmingly, the Federal Government moved a suite of reforms before the public release of the Samuels Review into Australia’s national environmental laws. These reforms fail to address the key concerns highlighted in the review. Instead, the Federal Government is trying to pass a law that would hand over more of their responsibilities to State and Territory Governments. This is unacceptable and needs to be stopped.

The review has made it clear that failure to act and ensure enforceable standards at a national level will see Australian animals and their habitats perish. This cannot be allowed to happen. Australian animals and the places they call home are at a crucial tipping point. The Government must be made to listen to the findings of the review. They need to take meaningful action to ensure that the environmental legislation is effective in protecting Australian animals and their habitat. Especially after the devastation of the 2020 bushfire season, animals need our help now more than ever.

Together we can ensure Australian wildlife is able to thrive in their natural habitats.