16 April 2024

Today’s release of Tanya Plibersek’s ‘Nature Positive’ proposals is a disastrous admission of her complete failure as Federal Environment Minister.

In December 2022, Ms Plibersek promised that the Albanese Labor Government’s new environmental laws would be better for business and better for the environment, that the laws would be the subject of extensive public consultation, and that they would be introduced into Parliament before the end of 2023.

None of that has been delivered and all that has been announced today is a new bureaucracy with no new laws to administer.

Both the business community and the environmental sector are crying out for certainty, clarity and for Labor to honour their promises and introduce the laws.

Yet, after two years of selective and secretive consultation, we are no closer to knowing anything about these laws which are harming investor confidence in our country for new job-creating projects and also creating uncertainty for the community at-large when it comes to environmental protection measures.

This Minister has failed to deliver the one thing she was supposed to do in this term by enacting, in her own words, the ‘biggest environmental reform agenda in a generation’.

There is no guarantee in any of what she has announced that it will better protect the environment, but it is guaranteed that it will lead to lower investment in Australia and job losses.

Ms Plibersek’s actions also run counter to many of the recommendations in the Samuel Review, including that reform in this area needed to start with the release of National Environmental Standards, “complex enabling reforms” and Indigenous-specific changes (all of which she has again indefinitely deferred today).  Professor Samuel also never recommended the creation of a Federal EPA – especially given that it would create more duplication and overlap to add to the EPAs that already exist in most of the States and Territories.

To make matters even worse, Ms Plibersek has also committed to spending another $100 million to supposedly facilitate faster EPBC Act assessments.  The sad truth is that Labor already tried this in the October 2022 Budget by spending $117 million for the same purpose – and that the timelines have been worse ever since.