Category Archives: Media Release

“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.

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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!

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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: 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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Media Release Self-culling dingo proposal morally and environmentally bankrupt

 

National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program (Inc. A0051763G )
Date: Thursday June 30, 2016

Secretary of the National Dingo Preservation and Recovery Program Inc. (NDPRP Inc.), Dr Ernest Healy, today slammed the idea of releasing dingoes with pre-timed poison devices implanted inside them as morally and environmentally bankrupt.

This week, it has been reported that dingoes have been released on Pelorus Island in Queensland to rid the Island of its population of feral goats. The dingoes, which have been neutered, have also had capsules of deadly 1080 poison implanted under their skin, designed to dissolve in about two years time. The advocates clearly expect that this approach will be used more widely across Australia.

Dr Healy stated:
“First, the use of 1080 poison for the pre-timed killing of the dingoes is cruel. 1080 poison is widely considered to result in a prolonged and agonising death. How such a proposal got past any credible animal research ethics approval process, either within a university or government department, beggars belief.”

“Second, despite the claim that this use of dingoes would be environmentally beneficial, it is really designed to sidestep a genuinely satisfactory environmental outcome, which would include the permanent reintroduction of dingo populations to their former range where the habitat is suitable.”

Increasingly, major conservation organisations and prominent environmental scientists have advocated for the reintroduction of dingoes into their former range as a way to help restore ecosystem health. In the view of these scientists, the historical removal of dingoes as farming activity expanded has contributed to the fragility of Australian ecosystems and to Australia’s appalling extinction rate of native species, particularly small mammal species.

However, because of the long-term hostility of the sheep industry to dingoes, inherited from the colonial period, dingoes have continued to be purged from vast areas near to sheep farming and the well-being of the natural environment has remained a lower-order priority for governments.

Rather than search for a workable historic compromise between the interests of the sheep farming industry and ecosystem health, which would involve the permanent reintroduction of dingoes and acknowledgement of their important environmental role, the proposal to program introduced dingoes for a pre-scheduled cruel death relies upon and perpetuates the worst misconceptions about the dingo, that it too is just a pest animal with no intrinsic environmental value – to be eradicated.

Dr Healy stated:
“The Orwellian concept of using ‘self-culling’ dingoes to kill introduced pests, and that they too then be exterminated as pests by a pre-programmed poison device after having done their good work, is not only cruel, but merely avoids the need for a mature and genuine historic resolution of the conflict between sheep farming and the natural environment in Australia. Many Australians would correctly find such a callous misuse of an iconic native animal to be repugnant.”

Contact:
Dr Ernest Healy, Secretary NDPRP Inc., 0438378430 (mob.), ernest.healy@monash.edu
Dr Ian Gunn BVSc. FACVSc. President NDPRP, 0427 387778 (mob.) ian.gunn@monash.edu

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Media Release: “Canberra Kangaroo culls rely on stale politicized science”

MEDIA RELEASE: 15 May 2016: “Canberra Kangaroo culls rely on stale politicized science”: Australian Wildlife Protection Council says

Today, Maryland Wilson, AWPC President, said that Evolutionary Sociologist, Sheila Newman recently reviewed the government science behind the ACT culls, which will begin anew on Monday 16 April 2016. Newman found it excessively narrow, self-referencing, mechanistic and old-fashioned.   Newman reported in Conference Paper: REVIEW OF SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF CANBERRA’S KANGAROO CULLS that:

“Harvesting, damage mitigation and culling probably actually accelerate population growth in roos because the smaller ones survive and adapt by sexually maturing earlier – which speeds up fertility turnover.

Since 2003 DNA studies have shown that ACT and southern NSW roos, both male and female, migrate at significant rates and for longer distances than the ACT model assumes. Migration has probably been mistaken for fertility, rendering ACT roo counts unreliable and invalid. The ACT needs to stop culling and widen its research base to consider various genetically based algorithms that naturally restrain fertility opportunities in kangaroos.”

Examples of such algorithms include separate gender pathways, with ‘sexual segregation’ where male and female populations live apart. It is likely that the stable presence of mature dominant males and females in family and mob organisation inhibits sexual maturity and activity as has been shown in studies of other species, such as macaques and superb fairy wrens (the latter cooperative breeders). In humans, girls brought up with step-fathers who came late to the family were more likely to mature sexually earlier due to absence of Westermarck Effect.)”

“The ACT’s senior Ecologist, Donald Fletcher, found in his Phd that local kangaroos lived without damaging pasture or starving at densities of 5 per hectare, yet he had supported the ACT program that deems kangaroos at more than one per hectare to be in danger of starving and a threat to their own habitat.” 

crueltyillegalherdingcrashing

The ACT government in Canberra is pursuing a policy of rapid human population growth, mostly through publicly invited economic immigration, yet it blames kangaroos for being crowded out of the suburbs.

In June 2016 ACT – South West Australian Capital Territory was the fastest growing area in Australia and grew by 127.3%. (ABS http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3218.0)

“Planned wildlife corridors need to be made safe and long-term viable to cope with people, car and kangaroo population movements. Most Australians love kangaroos and don’t want rapid human population growth. Australia’s capital needs to revise its growth policy in line with sustainability, democracy and appreciation of our unique ecology,” said Maryland Wilson, President, AWPC.

CONTACT: MARYLAND WILSON: 613 359788570 and 61417148501 and SHEILA NEWMAN 0412319669

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Media Release: Land Clearing wrecking our environment

Environment Minister Greg Hunt

Dear Greg

This week media reports have detailed the Federal Government’s approval for significant clearing of Critically Endangered woodlands in the Hunter Valley and lack of oversight on potentially illegal broad-scale clearing in Cape York, permitted by the former Queensland Government in direct contravention of national environment law.

The Federal Environment Department has just given mining company Coal and Allied the green light to clear 535 hectares of White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland, a Critically Endangered ecological community listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The community has been recognised as Critically Endangered since 2006, primarily due to a decline in geographic distribution, and since that time numerous developments have chipped away at what remains. Permitting a further 535 vital hectares to be cleared for a single project indicates the Government is loath to use its habitat protection powers effectively.

This is a unique and incredibly important ecosystem that has been absolutely smashed by development. More than 93% of the woodlands have been cleared since European settlement, yet the Commonwealth has justified the destruction of a further 535 hectares by requiring a biodiversity offset management plan and vegetation clearance protocols – simply inappropriate measures for Critically Endangered habitats,” said Humane Society International.

Similarly bad news has surfaced in Cape York, where clearing of 33,000 hectares of habitat for the buff-breasted button-quail (the only known Australian bird to have never been photographed in the wild) and at least 17 other threatened species listed under the EPBC Act was permitted in the dying days of the former Queensland Government.

BlkBrstdHemipode

(image: http://www.magiclunchbox.com/mus_profF/robchild/birds.html)

The EPBC Act is not meant to be used in this farcical way – Maryland Wilson Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc.

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