Labor promises to protect national parks under national laws
The Australian Labor Party would extend national environmental laws to protect national parks if elected at the 2016 federal election.
The move would strengthen the federal government's role in protecting the places Australians hold dear and is critical for the conservation of our wildlife and wild places.
The president of the National Parks Australia Council, Michelle Prior, said the 40,000 plus members of parks associations around Australia will welcome this move towards greater federal stewardship of our national parks.
"National parks and other protected areas that rely solely on state-based protection are under threat as some state and territory governments try to introduce activities that are incompatible with the primary purpose of national parks - the conservation of nature," she said.
Matt Ruchel, Executive director of the Victorian National Parks Association, said Labor's pledge is a significant step towards making national parks truly national icons.
"National parks are primarily for protecting our natural heritage for all Australians and shouldn't be open to political whims of state governments or business interests for cattle grazing, mining or large scale hotels," he said.
"It should once and for all put an end to flawed schemes such as putting cattle in the Alpine National Park under the guise of a scientific trial."
Currently, federal protection of national parks is indirect, via existing triggers under Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act, including nationally-listed threatened species and ecological communities.
This move would give the federal environment minister powers of approval regarding whether a proposed activity will impact significantly on the values of national parks, and is in line with other welcomed proposals by the ALP to extend the MNES 'Water Trigger' to include shale and tight formation gas projects.
The National Parks Australia Council has a mission to protect, promote and extend national park systems within Australia. It was formed in 1975 and is the peak community advocacy group for national parks and protected areas in Australia.