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How to make our environment protection laws work for all Australians, not just the mining giants

With a push on by the Gillard Government, Tony Abbott’s Opposition and Liberal State Premiers to further weaken environmental protection laws to give more power and access to mining corporations, it is time to re-write our laws to make them work to build a cleaner, healthier, smarter economy for all Australians.

“As the world gathers in Rio to once again look at ways to improve quality of life for all people without polluting the world, it’s time we did the same in Australia instead of continuing to give more power to the big polluters,” said Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne.

“State governments are rushing headlong to build coal ports, allow hunting in National Parks and dump waste in the Great Barrier Reef, and the Federal government wants to cede control to them.

“We need new environmental protection laws to help us build a cleaner, healthier, more innovative economy that will benefit all of us now and into the future.”

Senator Milne was joined by Australian Greens environment spokesperson, Senator Larissa Waters, who heads to Rio tomorrow to represent the Greens at the conference marking 20 years since the Rio Declaration on Sustainable Development.

“With all of Australia’s environmental health indicators trending in the wrong direction, it’s time to face facts that our national environmental laws are not working – and rather than watering them down as the Government and Opposition are planning, they need replacing,” said Senator Waters.

“The Greens are today launching the principles on which new national environmental laws should be based – laws that would actually protect our natural heritage, see our biodiversity flourish and save our ancient landscapes for generations to come.

“These principles include retaining federal oversight of environmental approvals, ensuring that all environmental impacts are considered rather than only eight currently listed matters (which exclude water, the climate and forestry), requiring independent scientific evidence, assessment of cumulative impacts and review by the community of the merits of Ministerial decisions.

“Minister Burke’s reforms to the EPBC Act expected within the fortnight should be judged against these principles.”

Principles available here: http://larissa-waters.greensmps.org.au/content/news-stories/too-precious-lose

Independent report into Australia’s performance since Rio available here: http://larissa-waters.greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/new-report-shows-australia-failing-rio-commitments

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