Submission: EPBC Act Review 2020
THIS SUBMISSION has been prepared by the Animal Protectors Alliance and the Australian Wildlife Protection Council, on behalf of our members. Signatory organisations are committed to the protection of the wellbeing of all animals as individual sentient beings, and therefore to the health and the sustainability of the ecological systems on which all living things depend. Additionally, many actions which damage the environment also damage animals directly (eg commercial and non-commercial killing of native animals).
The complete failure of the EPBC Act, as the only Commonwealth environmental legislation protect Australia’s environment and to conserve its biodiversity, has resulted in the deaths of billions of wild animals, and thousands of ecosystems. If Australia’s ongoing war against its natural environment is not checked by some form of strong national regulation, the devastation will ultimately extend from wild animals to both humans and all the other animals that are (theoretically) in human care.
The EPBC Act has failed to protect biodiversity from:
- the ongoing human onslaught on biodiversity habitat, terrestrial (eg land clearing, logging), freshwater (eg impoverishment of environmental freshwater resources) and marine (trawling, dredging);
- anthropogenic climate destabilisation (eg unprecedented droughts, bushfires, floods, dust storms, sea storms, hail storms);
- accelerating long-term anthropogenic climate change, including: (terrestrial) changes to sea level, snowline, frost-line, dew-point, rainfall, humidity, maximum, minimum and average temperatures; (marine) surface and deep water minimum, maximum and average temperatures, changes in acidity and salinity, coral bleaching, changing ocean currents; and the impact of changes in weight of polar ice on the Earth’s axis and the seasons which depend on that axis;
- direct, intentional harm eg commercial (terrestrial, freshwater and marine) and ‘management’ slaughters of wildlife;
- direct unintentional harm (eg road deaths, ship collisions with marine animals, bycatch, abandoned nets);
- air, water (including marine) and soil pollution;
- water and soil depletion.
These failures reveal an urgent need for a far-reaching and very thorough amendment of the EPBC Act, to address these issues. The first part of this submission is an articulation of nine key issues, and our recommendations for each of them. These issues and recommendations do not appear in any order of priority. All are needed to properly protect biodiversity and ecological processes.
The second part of this submission addresses the questions the Reviewers asked submissions to address. Naturally some of the points made in our key issues will be repeated in these answers.