I bumped into a journalist I knew in the coffee queue at Parliament House, and he asked what I was up to these days. I told him I was looking at the environment law reforms. “Oh yeah, those,” he said confidently, then thought about it for a while before asking: “So, what’s the deal with that?”
Indeed. Most of us know something is happening with our national environment laws, but not exactly what, and if or how it will affect us. It’s quite complex, and I could talk about it for days.
But I don’t have days, I have a flat white coming in three So for all of you in the virtual coffee queue out there, here’s my three-minute, coffee-queue guide to the environment law reforms. They’re a niche interest. They only matter to you if you care about The Great Barrier Reef, native forests, The Tarkine, The Kimberley or any environmentally significant place in Australia, koalas, tassie devils or any species facing extinction, the multi-billion dollar eco-tourism industry or long-term, sustainable jobs, clean air, water or food.
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When you take on a job like being Environment Minister there’s some hits you can see coming. You expect you’ll get a whack when you protect an endangered plant which if people saw in their garden, they’d presume was a weed. You know there’ll be some red hot political point scoring if jobs are meant to be put at risk to make way for the interests of some thrice mutated rare frog.
But what I never expected was to have the Queensland Liberal National Party go after me for wanting to look after koalas and the Great Barrier Reef.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman had turned up to his first COAG meeting with the other Premiers and the Prime Minister saying he’d be willing to help speed up processing times for business by enforcing the national environmental standards when he gives state approvals. But only a fortnight later he flicked the switch from wanting to enforce those standards to wanting to tear them down.
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Blinky Bill, Caramello and Sam the Thirsty Koala would be well satisfied this week.
Thanks largely to The Greens, koalas will be better protected in three states. Their status is now officially “threatened”, which is one rung below endangered on the uh-oh ladder, but several rungs above “fend for yourself, buddy”.
The Greens don’t get an enormous amount of love on this website. That’s mostly because the writers and commenters who set the tone of our dialogue largely believe that The Greens should stick to saving bits of the environment we can actually see and touch and interact with.
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