Putting a Stop to Australia’s Extinction Crisis

I’ve been screening unsolicited calls from an unknown charity for a while now. I got caught on the hop a few weeks back when the call came through from an unknown mobile. When I answered, it was a charity I currently donate to and swiftly told them I was too busy to talk and fobbed them off with some false excuse. Why is it charities always call during the most inconvenient times (dinner, nap time, any time really)? If it were up to husband I’d have given them the boot already, I mean how much money do you want from me, I’m already donating monthly?!

Against hubby’s better judgement I finally answered, knowing I was picking up the call from the Wilderness Society. I spoke to a lovely chap named Jordan and yes, they were looking for more money to bolster one of their current campaigns. What he told me was this: one of Australia’s national laws, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC), is up for review. This law is in place to protect our environment and is designed to safeguard Australia’s unique flora and fauna. The EPBC is reviewed every 10 years, giving us a once-in-a-decade chance to have our say on the laws that speak on behalf of our vulnerable plants and animals.

The question is, if these laws are doing what they’re supposed to, why is it we’re the only developed nation that makes it on to World Wildlife Fund’s naughty list of highest global deforestation rates? When we talk about deforestation we think of Indonesia or the Amazon, we rarely think about our own back yard. Our deforestation ranks in the global top 10, right up there with the Amazon. And why then are we worldwide leaders in species extinction? Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews told the ABC’s Fact Check, “35 per cent of all global mammal extinctions since 1500 have been Australian (30 out of 84 world-wide extinctions)”. The EPBC is a piss-weak excuse of a law that allows egotistic corporations to pummel our native forests and bring down a myriad of animals with them. Australia is in the midst of an extinction crisis.

An MCG-sized area of forest and bush is bulldozed every 2 minutes in Australia

The Wilderness Society
World Wildlife Fund

An Independent Review of the EPBC showed that these laws are unjust and the only thing that will save our forests and get us off the naughty list is fundamental reform. The Review states, the EPBC Act is ineffective and failing to deliver the “Commonwealth’s core responsibilities for protecting the environment and conserving biodiversity”. The Morrison Government plans to pass on the responsibilities of the EPBC to the states on the understanding they will implement these national environmental standards on behalf of the Australia Government. We need to ensure the current standards are subject to reform and in place across the board before the responsibility is handed over so that Australia’s biodiversity can be protected across the nation.

They’ve (the Government) wanted to wash their hands of any responsibility for environmental decisions—without establishing any sort of national standards or independent regulation.

The Wilderness Society

We need stronger laws that actually do what they’re supposed to and protect our environment. The report suggests we also need an independent watchdog to enforce them. According to the Wilderness Society, “almost all (deforestation related) projects (99.7%) assessed by the Federal Government get rubber-stamped, with just 2% later knocked back by the courts”.

Source: The Guardian

So, no, I did not open my wallet to give more money. I politely explained to Jordan that I am currently unemployed and not in a position to give more cashmoney. I was, however very concerned that we would not have the opportunity to reform this broken system for another 10 years, by which the ship would have already sunk, so I stepped into my nap-time activist role and banged out some letters. One to my local federal MP and one to the Federal Environment Minister, Sussan Ley. I took the opportunity to contact the Government politely asking them to get their shit together. We are running out of time and cannot waste any more of it putting up with the government’s dysrationalia.

Below are the letters I have sent requesting a reform of the EPBC Act, specifically the following areas (wording taken from the Wilderness Society):

1. Reform our environmental laws immediately and put in place strong new standards to protect habitat and world and cultural heritage

2. Establish independent oversight and regulatory bodies

3. Ensure communities have fundamental right to meaningfully participate in decisions about how we protect our environment, including access to justice

Personalised letters tend to have a much bigger impact on politicians, but any letter is better than none at all. As I was short on time I used some of the wording from the letter provided by the Wilderness Society and recycled some of the wording from my previous letters to politicians. So now I’m the annoying charity asking you to write to Sussan Ley and asking her to do her job as Environment Minister and protect Australia’s unique biodiversity.

The Hon. Sussan Ley, MP
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Wednesday February 10, 2020

Dear Minister Ley,

I am writing to you to regarding the release of the Final Report from the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) by Professor Graeme Samuel AC. I am a member of the Wilderness Society and, along with them and the more than 30,000 scientists, law experts and other community members I am asking you to please call upon the Australian Federal Government to act and reform our national nature laws, to end Australia’s extinction crisis and to guarantee Australians the right to have a say in decisions about how we protect our natural treasures.

Australia’s iconic biodiversity is worth protecting, but as it stands, we have one of the highest rates of extinction on earth and we are the only developed nation to make it onto the World Wildlife Fund’s global list of deforestation hotspots. The horrific fires of 2019/2020 have further exacerbated our already vulnerable flora and fauna and we need to step it up to protect them. This opportunity only occurs once every ten years and now is the time. I fear the world my children will inherit will be void of some of Australia’s most iconic wildlife including koalas, which in many parts of Australia are now listed as vulnerable.

I want the Australian Federal Government to acknowledge we are in an extinction crisis and we need urgent action now. Therefore, I call upon the Government to act to ensure a safe future for our natural environment and all the animals that call it home with the following three steps:

1. Reform our environmental laws immediately and put in place strong new standards to protect habitat and world and cultural heritage

2. Establish independent oversight and regulatory bodies

3. Ensure communities have fundamental right to meaningfully participate in decisions about how we protect our environment, including access to justice

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, I look forward to hearing from you and what you are going to do to ensure the outcomes of the Samuel Report you commissioned are put in place to protect our iconic biodiversity for its own intrinsic value and for the generations to come.

Yours sincerely,

Samantha Rodgers


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