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Senate Inquiry findings tantamount to environmental vandalism

27 March 2009

FARMERS, scientists and environmental groups will be mystified by the findings of the Senate Inquiry into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), which misguidedly attempt to shift the EPBC Act away from sustainable ecological development to a destructive ‘lock up and leave’ focus.

“This can only result in poor environmental outcomes through feral pests and diseases and heightened bushfire dangers across habitats, all of which can potentially wipe out the very ecological communities and endangered species the EPBC Act is supposed to protect,” National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President David Crombie declared.

“I fear Senators simply do not understand the environmental issues on their plate. Under a ‘lock up and leave’ approach there will be little, if any, active management of the environment on the ground, including essential weed and pest control, fire management, fencing or enhancing biodiversity through planting vegetation.

“Such an approach is in stark contrast to the Australian Government’s commitment to the NFF’s Environmental Stewardship initiative, funded under the 2007 Federal Budget, which embraces the benefits of actively protecting environmental assets – backed by farmers, scientists and environmental groups.

“Beyond the obvious environmental problems such a retrograde move would create, neighbouring landholders, principally farmers, would be lumped with all of the negative impacts on their properties.

“Further, the recommendations also add greater and unnecessary red tape, which contravenes the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG) agreement to move away from the added costs and regulatory burdens of bureaucratic processes. Indeed, shedding red tape in the primary sector has been one of the Productivity Commission’s key commitments since its 2007 Red Tape Review.

“The Senate Inquiry’s findings seek to impose new federal requirements where state provisions, covering the very same issues, already exist. Ultimately, this extra red tape would see funding diverted from resources to protect ecological communities and endangered species on the ground, in favour of more bureaucracy.

“The Senate Inquiry recommendations are out of step with government policy and environmental science.

“Resources should be invested in extending the Environmental Stewardship program to cover more, if not all, of the ecological communities and endangered species listed under the EPBC Act, as the NFF detailed in our Federal Budget Submission 2009.”

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250.

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