ACT Greens Member for Molonglo, Shane Rattenbury, today confirmed that the ACT Government will deliver on the Parliamentary Agreement item to maintain an ongoing approvals role for the Federal Government in environment protection matters.
“It is extremely important that the Federal Government maintains a role in approving proposals within the ACT that may affect matters of national environmental significance,” said Mr Rattenbury.
“Often state and territory governments are actually the developer, or have an interest in seeing a development go ahead, and are not best placed to be the decision-maker when it comes to protecting nationally significant environments.
“For example, without the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC), the Stanhope Labor Government would have likely proceeded with carving a road through endangered species habitat in the new Molonglo development. Instead, after Commonwealth intervention, the road alignment was moved, and the damage was reduced significantly.
“Legislation tabled in the Assembly today will mean both the ACT and the Federal Government will continue to oversee proposals that are likely to have significant adverse environmental impacts.
“As a result of meeting a commitment in the Parliamentary Agreement, the ACT will be unique in maintaining some of the architecture of Commonwealth involvement in environmental decision making.
“This is very different to other states in Australia, which are letting the Federal Government hand back decision-making powers wholesale to the states, and allowing them to approve projects that might impact on nationally significant environments or species.
“The Abbott Government seems intent on rolling back the role of the Commonwealth under the EPBC Act. They are abdicating their responsibilities to protect habitats and species in all other states that have long been recognised as having national value.
“We aren’t going to let that happen here. As a result of the Parliamentary Agreement, the ACT will be the only jurisdiction to defy the Abbott Government’s attempt to remove the Commonwealth from environmental protection.
“The importance of Federal Government involvement in environmental matters of national significance was hard fought in the 1980s; Fraser Island and the Franklin Dam case were turning points which demonstrated to all Australians that state governments couldn’t always be trusted on the environment, and that some places needed national protection.
“We know that Australians and Canberrans want strong environment protection, and this legislation will help protect our precious places,” said Mr Rattenbury.