The Morrison government has been accused of sitting on a major report card on the state of Australias environment it received more than three months ago to avoid more bad news.
Labor, the Greens, Zali Steggall (an independent MP), scientists, and environmental groups have all called for the release of the Australia State of the Environment report. It is compiled every five year by scientists.
Sussan Ley (environment minister) received the latest report, which was the first since 2016. It was presented to him in December.
The minister must present the report to parliament within 15 days of receiving it. The government is not legally required until the next parliament forms to release the report, as there is a possibility of an election being called within days.
Last week, senators from Labor and Greens demanded that the government set a date for the report’s tabling at an estimates hearing. However, they were told that the minister would only comply with her statutory obligations.
Terri Butler, Labor’s environment spokesperson, demanded the government release the report prior to Australians casting their votes in May.
She stated that it was a disgrace the Morrison-Joyce government is still awaiting the five-yearly report. What are they hiding?
What are they hiding?
Sarah Hanson Young, Greens spokesperson for environment, asked Ley why she hadn’t released it when she had the final document several months earlier.
She stated that the government must release the report before the election is called.
The environment under the government is a matter of public record. Voters should be able to see the current state of the environment and the issues they are voting on.
The independent MP Zali Steggall, said the 2016 report painted a dire picture for nature, with the authors writing Australias environment was under increasing pressure from land-clearing, population growth, climate change, urban and industrial development and pests.
She accused the government of sitting on the report because it would deliver more bad news and would drive home the environmental negligence of this Coalition government.
The State of the Environment report is the latest in a series of reviews that have evaluated the environmental performance of Australian governments.
The 2020 review of Australia’s national environmental laws was chaired last month by Graeme Samuel. It found that successive governments had failed in their efforts to stem the decline.
A review by the auditor general concluded that the federal government couldn’t prove it was protecting Australia’s endangered wildlife. It was not monitoring all species, habitats, or threats, and there was little evidence that conservation plans were being implemented.
Euan Ritchie, Deakin University professor of ecology, said that reports like the State of the Environment are important because they show what needs to be done to address Australia’s poor conservation record.
Jess Abrahams is the Australian Conservation Foundations nature activist. He said that Australians had a right know the extent of the nature crisis prior to the election.
He highlighted the recent endangered listings for the koala and gang-gang, as well as the crash in bogong mth populations, as prominent examples of how Australia’s environment was faring.
This decline isnt some sort of accident its happening on the federal governments watch and is a result of federal government decisions, he said.
Suzanne Milthorpe from the Wilderness Society is the national environment laws campaign director. The report’s release was critical at a moment when the effects of climate change are being felt in flooding and fire across the country.
She said that regardless of who wins the election, the next parliament must take immediate action to fix Australia’s environment laws to protect nature and communities.
Ley spokesperson said that the report would be released within the timeframe required by the act.