Greens’ new Biodiversity Bill will protect sharks

WA Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren has today introduced a long-overdue Biodiversity Legislation (Priority Reforms) Bill to protect Western Australia’s flora and fauna, including marine life such as sharks.

“Western Australia has exceptional levels of biodiversity on a global scale, yet the legislation that guides our biodiversity conservation is more than 60 years’ old,” Ms MacLaren said.

“Since 1992, successive Liberal and Labor State governments have promised or attempted to update the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 without success.

“As a result, the current legislation has largely inadequate penalties and contains anachronisms such as the Act requiring farmers or other private landowners to be subject to much greater scrutiny than the Forest Product Commission for similar activities.

“The Greens first introduced a Bill to remedy the Act in 2002 but it was voted down by the older parties including the ALP; the ALP promised to bring in new biodiversity legislation in its election platforms in 2001 and 2005 but failed to deliver.

“The current Liberal-National Government has also promised to update the legislation and has not done so.

“The Bill I have introduced today recognises the urgency to act now, given the number of threatened species and ecological communities in WA is increasing year by year and now numbers around 800.

“This Bill contains some simple amendments to current legislation, recognising that creating a comprehensive new biodiversity conservation Act will be a longer process. These amendments are: a simple statutory mechanism for listing threatened species; updated penalty levels to bring them into line with comparable offences under Federal environment legislation; and provision for the Act to apply to the Crown as well as everyone else  in respect to indigenous fauna, as currently the Act applies to the Crown in respect of indigenous flora but not fauna.

“The later amendment will make the Government’s current senseless shark cull illegal under the Act.

“Other amendments will also protect against developments such as the Roe 8 highway extension which would destroy rare and endangered species in the Beeliar wetlands. 

“Finally, one cannot amend the Wildlife Conservation Act without amending at least the clearing provisions of the Environmental Protection Act; the amendments I introduced today will create an appeals process to the State Administrative Tribunal for the most environmentally significant clearing proposals, as current arrangements that leave the Environment Minister to deal with appeals against the most controversial clearing permits, where environmental principals have been clearly breached, has not worked.”