Western Australia’s peak environment and conservation group today welcomed a commitment from Premier Barnett to develop new wildlife conservation laws should a Liberal Government be returned to office.
Conservation Council of WA Director Piers Verstegen said, “It is pleasing to see that the Barnett Government has made a firm commitment to updating our antique wildlife conservation laws, which were drafted over half a century ago.
“The current legislation has totally failed to protect our unique wildlife, and conservationists have been calling for a total overhaul for many years.
“If the State Government is genuine about its commitment, then this new Act could come just in time to prevent the extinction of several iconic Western Australian species, including our numbats and black cockatoos.
“This is a pragmatic announcement by the Premier – if he gets it right these new laws could improve the protection available for our unique native wildlife while also increasing certainty and streamlining approvals processes for industry.
“If we have strong laws protecting wildlife at a state level, there will be reduced need for the Commonwealth Government to get involved in development approvals in order to ensure threatened species are protected.
“One of the important tests of the new legislation will be whether it will be applied to State Government agencies such as the Forest Products Commission.
“Currently, logging operators managed under contracts with the FPC do not have to comply with either Commonwealth or State wildlife protection laws. This has to change.
“The new laws must also protect bushland, forest and other habitat for threatened and endangered species. There is no point in increasing fines for taking endangered species if the law does nothing to stop the destruction of their homes, or the plants they rely on for food and shelter.
“A lot of details will have to be worked out in consultation with stakeholders, but the main thing is that Premier Barnett has officially made the protection of Western Australia’s wildlife a priority should his Government be re-elected.
“This is a welcome move that, if implemented well, has the potential to achieve broad support from the WA community and responsible industry sectors in our state.”
For further comment:
Piers Verstegen – 0411 557 892