Tanya Plibersek posts a state of the environment report and gives the address of the NPC

By 2030, nearly a third of Australia’s land and oceans will be protected as a result of a major regulatory overhaul aimed at restoring the health of the natural world.

Environment Minister Tanya Pliebersek has pledged to restore Australia’s ecosystems by creating new national parks and “fundamental reform” of the country’s environmental laws.

Ms Plibersek announced the Albany government’s new environmental commitments by presenting the State of the Environment Report 2021 at the National Press Club on Tuesday.

“Our government will set itself the goal of protecting 30 percent of our land and 30 percent of our oceans by 2030,” she said.

“We will explore the possibility of creating new national parks and marine protected areas, including through the creation of the East Antarctic Marine Park.

“This will be the last chapter in Labour’s very proud history.”

Her pledge will significantly increase the amount of protected land in Australia, which, according to the federal Department of the Environment, makes up 19.75% of the continent.

Ms Plibersek said the latest five-year scientific assessment of Australia’s ecological systems tells a controversial and sometimes depressing story.

But she said people “deserve to know the truth.”

The study found that wide-ranging dramatic changes have taken place, pushing some ecosystems to the brink of collapse, blamed on climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and mining.

Ms Plibersek said now is the time for the government to act, but it will take “years” to repair some of the damage.

“If we continue on the same trajectory we are on, the precious places, landscapes, animals and plants that we think of when we think of home may not be here for our children and grandchildren,” she said.

Her environmental predecessor, Susan Ley, received the report last December and ignored calls to release it before the federal election.

Ms Pliebersek said on Tuesday that Australians do not believe that the federal government is protecting the environment.

“And frankly, this skepticism is justified,” she said.

Ms Plibersek specifically promised to respond to the official review of Australia’s main environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC).

On Tuesday, she said the Albanian government would formally respond by the end of the year to a review by former head of consumer watchdog Graeme Samuel, which was held in parliament’s previous term.

Ms Plibersek said the government would then “set its sights” on developing new environmental legislation by 2023.

Mr Samuel made 38 recommendations after finding that the EPBC Act harms both the environment and developers and contributes to unsustainable habitat loss in Australia.

Ms Plibersek, in her new portfolio, has been tasked with overseeing the reform of Australian environmental legislation and offsetting loss of species while also being responsible for signing new coal and gas projects.

It could come under pressure that the Albanian government has decided to phase out fossil fuel production, given that it has been a mainstay of the Australian economy for so long at the expense of the environment.

She told ABC last month that an “accommodation” needed to be found between tackling climate change and developing a strong economy after being asked how Labor could support fracking and environmental protection at the same time.

Green Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on Tuesday that Labor’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent falls short of the scale of the crisis.

“It is not enough to reduce the huge amount of pollution that is currently being released into the atmosphere,” Senator Hanson-Young told ABC radio.

Reports like this…require genuine urgent action. I am very happy to tell the government about what we are doing now.”

The State of the Environment report warns that all aspects of Australia’s environment are under pressure and many are deteriorating, a process accelerated by climate change and a lack of government leadership.

It says that Australia’s environmental strategies and investments in biodiversity conservation are not up to the scale of the problem facing the country.

The authors speak of insufficient investment and lack of coordination between the Commonwealth and the states and territories to address the increasingly damaging effects of climate change, land clearing, invasive species, pollution and urban expansion.

Among his other findings is that Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent and still has one of the highest rates of species decline among OECD countries.

It says Australia is burdened with thousands of non-native species, either intentionally or accidentally introduced over the past 200 years.

And it warns that a continuing “legacy of colonial law and policy” is depriving Indigenous peoples of natural resource management at the expense of Australian ecosystems.

The report looks at 12 environmental domains: air quality, biodiversity, climate, coastline, extreme events, heritage, indigenous knowledge, inland waters, land, marine and urban environments, and Antarctica.

Originally published as ‘Depressive Story’ Sparks Urgent Promise From Tanya Plibersek