Modernised laws don’t go far enough to protect biodiversity - Greens

biodiversity conservation bill; Lynn MacLAren MLC

“The biodiversity of Western Australia deserves better protection than that afforded in the Biodiversity Conservation Bill,” Greens spokesperson for Biodiversity Conservation Metropolitan MLC Lynn MacLaren said, following the passing of the amended bill in the Upper House today.

“While it is true that there are aspects of the bill which represent a step forward for wildlife conservation in this state, some of the concerns I outlined earlier in the debate remain,” Ms MacLaren said.

“For this reason, I made the decision to oppose the bill today.”

Ms MacLaren said she welcomed the provisions for binding the Crown and for extending protection to private land.

“The Minister, Albert Jacob, is to be commended for achieving much in modernising the framework, and I especially acknowledge his response to serious criticisms from the conservation sector by supporting three of the four amendments I moved in the upper house,” she said.

Ms MacLaren said among the positives of the bill are Habitat Conservation Notices, which give Government the power to protect habitat proactively, as well as the obligation for consultants to report the occurrence of a threatened species, enforceable by criminal penalties.

She said she also welcomed the increase in penalties for the taking of flora and fauna, and the addition of new offences for disturbing fauna and modifying threatened ecological communities.

“Together with these aspects, I am pleased to see inclusions within the bill which allow members of the public to make nominations for listing, the introduction of higher protections for threatened species and expanded coverage of marine organisms,” Ms MacLaren said.

“However, despite these improvements on the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, and the successful amendments I moved earlier in the debate, I still hold concerns about the bill’s integration with other acts.

“Mechanisms to list and make recovery plans for threatened species and ecological communities will not assist in the protection of threatened species if these listing and planning decisions do not have real legal consequences for decisions made under other Acts which affect these species.”

Ms MacLaren said it was imperative that any Government formed following the State Election in March 2017 undertook to make those improvements which were flagged during the debate.