Category Archives: Media

“One stop shop” quick environmental approvals -to “simplify” business

Humane Society International Australia (HSI) 9th October Media Release, called upon Prime Minister Turnbull to call a halt to the disastrous and seriously faltering program to hand the Commonwealth’s environment powers to the states and territories, and to remove the “one-stop-shop” Bill that would permit such devolution.  “It was the Howard Government, in which Mr Turnbull served as Environment Minister, that worked so hard to strike a sensible balance between national and state roles and responsibilities for environmental issues and it’s time to restore that balance,” said HSI Australia Campaign Director Michael Kennedy.

HSI logo

The Australian Government is committed to delivering a One-Stop Shop Bill for environmental approvals that will accredit state planning systems under national environmental law, to create a single environmental assessment and approval process for nationally protected matters.

The One-Stop Shop policy aims to simplify the approvals process for businesses, lead to swifter decisions and improve Australia’s investment climate, while maintaining the facade of high environmental standards.

It’s expected to result in regulatory savings to business of around $426 million a year, by reducing costs associated with delays to project approvals and administration. This policy is about savings for businesses, more convenience for planning approvals, not stronger environmental protection laws!

GregHunt

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says that the “one-stop-shop will slash red tape and increase jobs and investment, whilst maintaining environmental standards.”  One of the major obstacles to creating a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals is that “Australia’s federal system of government is more like a scrambled egg than a neatly layered cake”.  Despite the wide range of ecosystems, territories, issues, biodiversity, and landscapes, they will all be unified under one process!  It will wind back 30 years of legal protection for the environment and put at risk Australia’s World Heritage areas such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.  On the contrary, we need MORE red tape to STRENGTHEN our environmental protection laws, not have them more easily processed!

It’s one-size-fits-all approach, of the Federal Government handing over approval powers to the States, for “development” projects!  The latter should raise the red flag – on what should be for the benefit of conservation, biodiversity protection and upgraded protection laws, rather than for businesses and “development” approvals!

The Commonwealth proposes to transfer some of its current responsibilities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) to the States. VECCI Chief Executive Mark Stone says that “in the current economic climate, removing the roadblocks to job creation and productivity is crucial.”

So, this is about stripping back layers of approvals, and complexity, to make businesses more competitive, create “jobs” and increasing “productivity”, not more layers of environmental protection!

Biodiversity Offsets

Biodiversity offsets allow developers or mining companies, as part of their development approval, to buy and/or manage land to compensate for the clearing of forests and areas containing threatened plants and animals. They are supposed to be used as a last resort but have become standard practise in assessing major developments in Australia. State standards for environmental assessment and approval for major projects under the Australian Government’s “one stop shop‟ policy would mean more biodiversity offsets, and lower conservation standards in NSW and Queensland.  The use of offsets under EPBC can be multiplied tenfold when it comes to state based offsetting regimes. It is these very regimes that the government is currently looking to accredit as approvals regimes under the “one stop shop” policy.
Native species of animals can’t just be expected to adjust to “offsets”!  They are not meant to be pieces on a chessboard, to be moved by business “players” for their convenience.
A report by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) warns against relegating environmental approval powers to state governments, saying the environment will suffer.  State governments are seeking to ‘fast track’ major developments, such as coal mine and coal seam gas projects, reducing public participation and removing legal rights of local communities to mount legal challenges.  The EDO report shows the gap between the environmental standards in state and national laws is widening, not aligning!
The EPBC Act contains a number of valuable tools such
as a critical habitat mechanism, provisions for threat
abatement plans, recovery plans, wildlife conservation
plans and the listing of key threatening processes.  There is no wriggle-room for State vested interests!
With almost 1200 plant species and 343 species of animals considered endangered or vulnerable, the rates of species extinction in Australia are amongst the worst on the planet.
EDO analysis confirms the finding that, despite assurances
that the ‘one stop shop’ policy would ensure State and
Territory laws met national standards, no State or
Territory law currently meets all the core requirements of
best practice threatened species legislation.
Places You Love Alliance — Australia’s largest ever environmental collaboration, representing more than 40 conservation organisations across the nation — said a ‘one-stop shop’ for environmental approvals was in practice an ‘eight-stop shop’ that would create an administrative nightmare and significantly weaken protection for Australia’s unique places and wildlife.
“A ‘one stop shop’ would leave state governments in charge of assessing uranium mines and projects that would affect World Heritage areas and internationally recognised wetlands,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

If the One Stop Shop policy is implemented, Minister Hunt can simply hand over his powers for this project to the Victorian Government, which has a clear conflict of interest in the  Westernport project as both the proponents and regulators. Under the One Stop Shop, the approval of the Hastings port expansion will be a fait accompli.

The One Stop Shop policy will remove the last vestiges of federal oversight.

One-Stop-Chop

Since 1997, most native forests available for logging have been covered by RFAs. These have shielded wildlife and other heritage and conservation values from protection under Commonwealth environmental law by handing decision-making power to state governments. This is the same mechanism as the Commonwealth government’s proposed ‘one stop shop’ plan.

It is clear that the ‘One-stop-shop’ process would never raise the bar of state environmental laws, but would put in place a patchwork of different legal regimes that are far weaker than current Commonwealth conservation law, and inevitably trigger a new round of NGO legal challenges at the state and territory level.

 

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AWPC Complains to Members of Parliament re Melbourne Water rush project & wildlife impact

To Lisa Neville, Lily D’Ambrosio, Paul Edbrook:
Good morning Honourable members of parliament,

Official complaint against Melbourne Water retarding basin upgrades.

I am sending you this email this morning in regards to Melbourne Water’s retarding basin upgrade in Lee St Frankston. Melbourne Water have used a very short period of time to communicate with the community about this project.

The way they have proceeded has not been open and transparent, they have used excuses of potential danger to the community without backing these claims with scientific data. When they have been approached to do so, they have communicated that we need to put in a freedom of information request (which we are in the process of doing).

We have no issues in improving infrastructure that will improve efficiency and safety to the community, as long as it is done in the guidelines of the law that does not have a negative impact on the environment, community groups and the community.

It would seem to us and members of the broader community in Frankston (who have expressed concern about wildlife welfare) are concerned with the rush to undertake this project and lack of transparency. which may in fact lead to breaches of the law and impact wildlife, local wildlife shelters. As such the Australian Wildlife Protection Council is filing this as an official complaint to you against Melbourne Water. Attached is correspondence of this project to date.
[For correspondence see “AWPC TO MELBOURNE WATER RESPONSE ON TREE REMOVAL LEE ST RETARDANT BASIN”

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AWPC: Bush Heritage big assertions on kangaroos need evidence before any action

“Bush heritage makes some rather big assertions about the impact of kangaroos at their Scottdale reserve and the impacts this wildlife species is having on the biodiversity there. If Bush Heritage is serious about their claims then they need to be a little more transparent,” writes Craig Thomson, President of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council.

“Bush Heritage Australia has forfeited the inheritance of a 350-acre property near Bega and lost numerous donors as they face backlash from a planned kangaroo cull at Scottsdale​ Reserve, south of Canberra. Regular supporters of the non-profit organisation have pulled donations following reports of a cull, with one referring to the organisation as “hopeless frauds”. Bush Heritage aims to “conserve biodiversity” at properties either purchased or donated across Australia. http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/bush-heritage-australia-faces-backlash-after-kangaroo-culling-claims-20160708-gq1fpa.html

They can start by answering and providing information to the following questions

– When do they class a wildlife species as being over abundant?
– What is a sustainable kangaroo population at Scottdale Reserve?
– What is the roos’ population current range in and around their reserve?
– Are there any neighbouring or local land uses or management practices that would see kangaroos returning to Scottdale reserve more often and in greater number?
– How many kangaroos are on the reserve day in and out?
– Has there been any scientific data of kangaroo starvation cases at Scottdale reserve or regionally before?
– While it is hard to watch an animal starve to death, it is a common condition of the natural world, in particular with drought and over abundant populations. So why do Bush Heritage feel the need to interject in a natural process, which in itself could have far bigger ecological problems?
– What is the science and guidelines being implemented by Bush heritage?
– Who are the independent experts being engaged by Bush Heritage?
– What humane methods are being developed?
– What scientific evidence can Bush Heritage provide that kangaroos are having a detrimental effect on other species?
– Has all weed habitat changing plants like serrated tussock grass been removed from Scottdale reserve and regionally?
– Do Bush heritage conduct any fuel reduction burns at Scottdale reserve?
– Is Scottdale reserve free of pest animals such as rabbits?

We hear explanations of why there are too many and debate what control measures should be taken. What is very rarely discussed is what is a sustainable population size, the roos ecological benefits and social structure. In a race to demonise our national icon for commercial vested interest or in this case a so called natural balance. The critical point missed is the roo social structure. Large alpha males control breeding within the mobs. When shooting takes place which animals are shot first? Well you can very confidently say it would be the roos who control the social structures within the mobs.

So the question about controlling kangaroos should be whether or not a bias against kangaroos prevents us from understanding their biology, ecology and social structures? Has this led to poor management practices, where the preferential killing of large males has possibly caused early breeding of youngsters, increasing numbers in some cases? (See Sheila Newman, “Roo scientists admit industry stimulates roo population growth whilst calling roos pests”.)

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Celebrities and Scientists lobby to reinstate Californian ban on kangaroo products

Media Release 24 August 2015

JM Coetzee (Nobel Prize Laureate) and Dr Brian May (astrophysicist and Queen guitarist) join 72 other scientists, academics and public figures urging California to reinstate its ban on imported kangaroo products.

Over 70 scientists, academics, educators and other public figures from Australia, the UK and the United States, including Nobel Prize Laureate JM Coetzee and astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Dr Brian May, have signed an open letter to Californian lawmakers urging reinstatement of the Californian ban on imported products made from kangaroos.

California banned importation of kangaroo products when the United States listed the commercially shot kangaroo species as threatened in 1974. This followed Australia’s own 1973 ban on exported kangaroo products, based on evidence of serious decline in kangaroos.

The US delisted the species in 1995 and California’s import ban temporarily lifted in 2007 after intensive lobbying by the commercial kangaroo industry, Adidas and the Australian Government.

“California’s import ban is due to resume at the end of 2015. The industry is seeking permanent unchecked importation of kangaroo products,” said letter coordinators Helen Bergen and Teja Brooks Pribac.

“Kangaroos grow and breed slowly with high juvenile mortality, and suffer major declines during drought. Intense hunting and systematic eradication programs since British settlement in 1788, and decades of industrial-scale commercial killing beyond reproductive capacity has seen local extinctions of populations.

“Australian government policy favours the commercial industry, despite growing concerns about the science used to justify the commercial kangaroo shooting and export industries.

“Population estimates over-inflate numbers from which unattainable inflated shooting quotas are extracted. This reinforces the myth of kangaroos as abundant and as pests, despite current science indicating otherwise.

“ There is also increasing concern about the known cruelty issues for shot kangaroos and their joeys; and about the risk of pathogens that continue to be found in kangaroo meat,” said scientist Dr Dror Ben-Ami.

“Supporters of the commercial kangaroo industry are quick to deride these concerns, however signatories to the letter are educated and critical-thinking people, who well understand the seriousness of the questions being asked,” added Mses Bergen and Pribac.

“Government custodianship of wildlife should never be driven by commercial interests or mistaken common perceptions. It’s like leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse,” they said.

kangarooleatherCalifornia1

“We are urging Californian lawmakers to carefully consider the concerns in the letter and not take their advice from the very industry profiting from the massive harm visited on Australia’s kangaroos every night.

Read or download the letter at www.kangaroosatrisk.org

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Cultivating Murder – a brutal “political” killing

A farmer who gunned down a NSW environment officer during a protracted and terrifying ordeal has been jailed for at least 24 years. Glen Turner had been shot three times by 78-year-old farmer Ian Turnbull –  a man hellbent on revenge, and who died in prison.

“He shot an innocent man, twice,” Robert, the only witness to the murderous 20-minute game of cat-and-mouse Turnbull played with the pair, and was shown on Sunday Night program.

Ian Turnbull, then 81, used a hunting rifle to murder Glen Turner, 51, who was on public land with a colleague on July 29, 2014, near the farmer’s property at Croppa Creek in the NSW’s north. The murder prosecution and legal proceedings in the Land and Environment Court for alleged illegal land clearing had put his family under immense financial pressure, and took aim at the Native Vegetation Act. By the time Turnbull had been fined $140,000 plus costs over the illegal clearing in 2011, Glen had become, in his mind, his nemesis, the focus of a hate bordering on obsession.

The colleague of slain environment officer Glen Turner has told how he pleaded in vain with gunman Ian Turnbull to put down his gun and let him seek medical help.

glenturner

(image: NSW Police – http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/3877437/sir-put-the-gun-down-turner-colleagues-plea-to-ian-turnbull/)

Turner had grown up in a small town and when he started his own family, in his 40s, he’d moved to a bush block 60km outside Tamworth. Asked to describe the most comfortable part of his job, he once replied: “Talking to farmers. Driving around properties with the ‘old mates’ chatting about the weather, how good the cattle look, how bad the government is and that I only work for them, not make the rules”. Much of his job involved compiling the evidence used to prosecute farmers for illegal clearing and he was acutely aware that a conviction could financially devastate them. It was the old ­farmers that Turner often felt sorry for, the ones who still remembered the days when the government paid you to clear land. Some of them innocently got themselves into trouble, he told his superiors during one work review, and “really need our help, not our punishment”.

Murderer Ian Turnbull had pleaded guilty, a year earlier, to illegally bulldozing nearly 500ha of trees, and was facing a hefty fine and a ­potential legal bill of more than $300,000. Meanwhile, his 47-year-old son and 29-year-old grandson, who owned the properties Turnbull had cleared, had amassed their own legal bills fighting a state government order that they restore the cleared land to pristine bush – an exercise they said would bankrupt them.

As soon as the murder hit the headlines, it fascinated film-maker Gregory Miller, whose credits include environmentally themed documentaries on climate change (Cool School Antarctica) and China (New Beijing: Reinventing A City). Miller has now finished the documentary Cultivating Murder, which looks at the consequences of the killing and the tensions between farmers and environmentalists over land clearing for large-scale cropping. It starts a series of screenings around the country on April 20.

The film also shows the environmental damage that land-clearing has caused in the area, including the destruction of koala habitats. “Koalas all over the east coast of Australia are under massive threat,” Miller says. “It’s bizarre that we’re not just killing off the Great Barrier Reef, we’re killing off our iconic native animals.”

Trailer:

Cultivating Murder – Trailer from Real Film Festival on Vimeo.

The heart-rending story of environmentalist Glen Turner, who was gunned down on the side of a road in Croppa Creek

From 13 May, 80 mins
Full $18 Concession $14 Members $12
Federation Square, Melbourne

In May, the Government released a draft package of biodiversity and land management reforms.  It included scrapping the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the Native Vegetation Act 2003.  In a conflict of  interests, the NSW under the Baird government was making land-clearing EASIER, in what’s called “reforms”.  Chair of NSW Farmers, Mitchell Clapham said current legislation is “enormously damaging” for farmers and welcomed reform.

“We have enormous tracks of land in the north-west of the state that are now covered in invasive native scrub and, because of the current acts and legislation, cannot be managed,” he said.

Environmentalists fear the reforms will result in wide-scale habitat destruction and wildlife extinction.

So, the Colonial mentality of clear, slash and burn still continues, despite greater knowledge in conservation, climate change and our abysmal native animals extinction rates!

References:

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/robert-strange-tells-how-glen-turner-pleaded-to-get-him-medical-help-20160428-gogy4t.html
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/farmer-ian-turnbull-jailed-for-murdering-environment-officer-glen-turner-20160623-gppzki.html
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/how-a-row-over-land-clearing-left-compliance-officer-glen-turner-dead/story-e6frg8h6-1227055190971
http://www.news.com.au/national/crime/hunted-like-an-animal-he-shot-an-innocent-man-twice/news-story/f0bb51812918e91cf1ad12d2f13dcead
http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/documentary-cultivating-murder-tells-story-behind-brutal-political-killing-20170412-gvjsuk.html

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Emergency Wildlife Bush Fire Relief- Surf Coast Animal Rescue Services

Surf Coast Animal Rescue Services is urgently raising funds (generously auspiced by Winged Horse Equine Inc) to attend to the needs of wildlife affected by the Christmas Day Lorne/Wye River bushfires in Victoria, Australia, which has hit hardest in one of the most densely populated wildlife areas in the Otway Ranges, also home to one of few Victorian koala populations.

surf-coast-fundraiser

Millions of native animals have perished, with many thousands more injured and needing immediate attention. The worst of the fires are now contained, but emergency services have warned these fires could last for weeks and flare up again over what is forecast to be a hot, dry summer with record breaking temperatures.

As the centre of the bushfire zone is opened up in coming days, hundreds of native animals will require rescuing and we anticipate that the rescue efforts will continue for weeks, perhaps months. We are seeking assistance for the purchase of medical equipment, fire-suitable rescue gear, transportation costs, professional veterinary costs, species-specific burn creams and bandages. These items are required urgently and all donations, no matter the size, are most welcome. We are also hoping to provide wildlife rescue kits to all our active volunteers so that no animal is left without the immediate care they require.

We are a volunteer organisation with volunteers who have been rescuing wildlife in the Surf Coast region for 25 years.

By supporting us, you help us to:

– provide immediate veterinary care to injured wildlife

– transport wildlife out of the fire zones

– provide ongoing rehabilitation of wildlife until they are ready to be returned to the wild

– place orphaned wildlife in long-term foster care

– supply wildlife rescuers with efficient wildlife rescue kits

– supply wildlife carers with ongoing medical supplies

– provide public awareness and educational programs specific to the rescue of wildlife in the region.

Donate generously and thank you for your support

GIVE NOW- CLICK HERE

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