29 May 2024

The Labor Government’s introduction of its Environment Protection Australia (EPA) legislation into the Federal Parliament today is an admission of failure by Tanya Plibersek and an epic broken promise to introduce laws to fix the EPBC Act by the end of 2023.

Labor have put the cart before the horse with this $120 million new bureaucracy administering the same broken laws that Professor Graeme Samuel (who reviewed the EPBC Act) described as “woefully inadequate”.

After nearly two years, there is no end in sight – with these laws likely not being introduced before the election.

This new bureaucracy will wrap businesses in more green-tape, drive investment offshore and jeopardise jobs without guaranteeing any better or stronger environmental protections.

There are many dangerous elements embedded within this Bill – including that significant Ministerial powers will be transferred to an unelected and unaccountable EPA CEO, who will be able to act with near-impunity.  The EPA will also be empowered to issue far-reaching ‘environment protection orders’ and huge new penalties on businesses.

Labor have completely failed in the Environment portfolio – with their actions not matching their rhetoric.

Tanya Plibersek is pretending that the EPA is a significant step, but it is light years away from the promises Labor made at the election nearly two years ago and when the Nature Positive Plan was announced, as well as no serious response to the demands of conservationists, business and scientists.

The EPA was never sought by anyone except the Labor Environment Action Network. Professor Graeme Samuel, in his review of the EPBC Act, didn’t go near suggesting that the Federal Government should have this body in place.

EPAs already operate in nearly every state and territory. This body has been allocated $120 million for its establishment but doesn’t even have new laws to administer. It is a joke.