MEDIA RELEASE 16 June 2016 |
Lovers of national parks and conservation groups from across the country today commended the Australian Labor Party’s promise to extend national environmental laws to the protection of national parks.
This would strengthen the federal government’s role in protecting the places Australians hold dear and critical for the conservation of our wildlife and wild places.
The election commitment was welcomed by the National Parks Australia Council, a national coalition of community-based national parks associations from Victoria, NSW, QLD, ACT and Tasmania and the Conservation Society of South Australia.
Ms Michelle Prior, President of the National Parks Australia Council said: “The 40,000 plus members of National Park 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.”
“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,” said Matt Ruchel, Executive Director, Victorian National Parks Association.
“This is a significant step towards making national parks truly national icons. 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 (EPBC 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.
Ms Prior added: “This announcement indicates the ALP is committed to restoring and strengthening the federal government’s responsibility for matters that are truly nationally significant, like national parks, and supports other recent announcements promising enhanced national environmental protection laws.”
Notes to Editors: The National Parks Australia Council has a mission to protect, promote and extend national park systems within Australia. NPAC was formed in 1975 and is the peak community advocacy group for national parks and protected areas in Australia.