By Adam Bandt:
The relentless destruction of Australia’s habitat is causing constant upgrading of the risk to our animals to ‘endangered’, ‘critically endangered’ and ‘extinct’. Our iconic biodiversity is under greater threat today than at any time in human history. Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world. We are driving this destruction directly through developers, mining and state governments, like in my state of Victoria where we’re seeing the wilful destruction of the Djab Wurrung trees. We’re also indirectly threatening every crevice of our vast lands and oceans by burning coal, oil and gas. There’s no creature or habitat that will be untouched by the climate crisis.
In the 22 years that the EPBC Act has been in place, we can confirm that we cannot leave the protection of our habitat and endangered species in the hands of the establishment parties, because they take donations from developers, from coal, oil and gas companies, and from the businesses that profit from destruction. They can’t be trusted to protect the places and the creatures that Australians love. They will bend the assessments to suit their donors and the proponents of projects. I’m pleased that the member for Clark has brought this bill to the House, because the only solution to this ongoing corruption and devastation of our environment is the creation of an independent assessment process, which this bill proposes. This bill backs in the Greens’ long-held policy of independence in environmental assessment, and we do commend the bill to the House.
I will give one example in my remaining time. Look at the Toondah wetlands in Queensland. It’s a globally important wetland for birds that travel halfway around the world to eat and rest. Property developer and donor Walker Corporation wants to turn it into 3,000 apartments, a marina and a hotel. What did the previous environment minister, the member for Kooyong, do? He proposed to the Queensland minister that they redraw the boundary of the wetlands so that the donor can get what they want. It’s this kind of behaviour that we need to stop.