Lifting the Standards: How do Tasmania’s environmental laws stack up?

EDO Tasmania’s latest report, Lifting the Standards, compares assessments under Tasmanian laws against key Commonwealth standards and finds that significant amendments must be made for Tasmania’s laws to achieve best practice.

Lifting the Standards table - med res

The report notes the strengths and weaknesses of the current suite of environmental laws and identifies opportunities to lift the standards to secure better, more transparent environmental outcomes.

Download the summary or the full report (low res – 2MB or print quality – 8MB)

Environment Groups Charity Status Inquiry – closing 21 May 2015

Silent FightThe House of Representatives Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations is currently reviewing whether a range of environmental organisations, including Coastcare groups, The Wilderness Society and EDOs, should retain their tax-deductibility status.

The Inquiry is also considering whether registration should be limited to those groups who undertake “on-ground” environmental works, rather than education, advocacy, legal advice and representation.

Many environmental organisations increasingly rely on public donations to support their work – removing tax-deductibility would make it much harder to attract donations and could mean that organisations struggle to raise enough money to continue their activities.

Submissions to the Inquiry can be made until 5pm, 21 May 2015.   You can download our draft template submission and add your own comments about the value of environmental organisations and the role of environmental advocacy in protecting the environment.

Template submission

Check out this article in the SMH about the implications of the Inquiry:  Preventing Political Advocacy by Environment Groups an Attack on Democracy

EDO Bulletin 9/2015

EDO-Tas-Logo-no-wordsThe latest edition of the EDO Bulletin is now available here.  This edition provides updates on the Federal budget, progress on the RET, feral cat management, new biosecurity rules and new planning schemes.  There’s also still plenty of time to get involved in Forgo for EDO 2015!

To subscribe, click here.

FORGO FOR EDO

Forgo - website

It’s that time of year again!  Each May, EDO Tasmania asks supporters to “forgo” one thing and donate the savings to raise funds for our service. Check out our Forgo page for all the details.

The pledge forms (with artwork by the wonderful Nicky Adams) even come in colouring in format!

EDO BULLETIN 8/2015 RELEASED

EDO-Tas-Logo-no-wordsThe latest edition of the EDO Bulletin is now available here. This edition provides updates on the RFA review, the Review of Forestry Tasmania, drinking water contamination, supertrawlers and how you can get involved in Forgo for EDO 2015!  To subscribe, click here.

State Forests, National Interests

TWSA new report, commissioned by TWS and prepared by EDO Tasmania, has found that Tasmania’s forest practices laws are failing to meet national standards for  protection of threatened species and biodiversity.

Under the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, Tasmania’s forestry operations are exempt from national laws that protect threatened species on the understanding that these species would be adequately protected under Tasmanian law.  The report shows that the legal framework for the assessment, approval and enforcement of logging activities in Tasmania is not providing that protection.

The report makes a comprehensive series of recommendations to improve the protections delivered by the law and facilitate more ecologically sustainable forest management in Tasmania.

Key findings include:

  • current “duty of care” provisions effectively prevent forestry officers from refusing to certify forest practices plans, or imposing stringent conditions to minimise the impacts on threatened species and ecological communities
  • the Commonwealth Minister had extremely limited powers to intervene to protect nationally listed species affected by forestry activities
  • monitoring of biodiversity losses and on-ground compliance with conditions is inadequate
  • public access to information is restricted and there are very few opportunities to challenge forestry operations that may impact (or are impacting) on threatened species.

Key recommendations include:

  • removing the RFA exemption from the EPBC Act
  • giving statutory effect to the suite of planning tools developed by the Forest Practices Authority
  • referring all forestry operations with the potential to impact on threatened species to the Threatened Species Unit for comment
  • removing the “duty of care” restrictions under the Forest Practices Code
  • allowing third parties to appeal against decisions to certify forest practices plans

Read the full report here: State Forests, National Interests: RFA Report (May 2015)

EDO BULLETIN 7/2015 RELEASED

EDO-Tas-Logo-no-wordsThe latest edition of the EDO Bulletin is now available here. This edition provides updates on the RFA review, the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations, Japan’s new whaling program in the Southern Ocean, the Wellington Park Management Plan hearing and a range of other opportunities to comment.  To subscribe, click here.

New Southern Ocean whaling programme rejected

IWC-logoAn expert panel established by the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee has rejected a new proposal by the Japanese government to take over 300 minke whales each year from the Southern Ocean.   The panel found that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the proposed whaling was for “scientific” purposes.

For a good summary of the decision, and its consequences, read Tony Press’s recent article in the Conversation.

Energy White Paper released

Energy White Paper - at a glanceOn 8 April 2015, the Federal Government released the long-awaited Energy White Paper.  The White Paper makes a number of key recommendations:

  • Increasing Australia’s production of energy and energy sources
    This is a dominant theme of the Paper. The Paper focuses on the gas market, and expresses support for infrastructure investment to capitalise on gas resources. Fossil fuel and uranium energy sources are supported in favour of renewable energy sources.
  • Adopting a “technology-neutral” approach
    The Paper considers that the energy industry itself is best placed to encourage innovation. The White Paper does not outline incentives to facilitate uptake of renewable energy options, but does note an intention to invest in carbon capture technology to drive down the price of CCS approaches.
  • Increasing competition and the privatisation of energy assets
    The Paper concludes that increased competition will bring down energy prices, and privatisation will assist in increasing competition.
  • Removing “unnecessary regulatory barriers”
    Consistent with the rhetoric of the one-stop shop policy, there is little detail provided on what regulation is considered “unnecessary”.
  • Encouraging investment
    The Paper concludes that “streamlined” regulation and increased certainty will encourage development and  investment in the energy sectors. In particular, the Paper proposes harmonisation of regulation and policy across the national energy sector as a key priority for the COAG Energy Council.
  • Informing consumers
    The Paper encourages efforts to improve awareness and help consumers to make informed choices about energy suppliers and energy use.

The White Paper has been criticised by a number of prominent economists, including Ross Garnaut, for its failure to address climate change as a driver of energy policy, to capitalise on Australia’s significant renewable energy resources or to rigorously assess options to achieve emission reduction targets for 2020 and beyond.

** EDO Tasmania thanks volunteer, Mikala Jayatilaka, for her assistance in reviewing the Energy White Paper

CLCs’ funding restored, but EDOs miss out

105_0559FrederiqueOlivierOn 26 March 2015, the Attorney-General announced that the Commonwealth government will restore funding to Legal Aid Commissions, Indigenous legal assistance and Community Legal Centres for the next two years… except for Environmental Defenders Offices.

EDO Tasmania is genuinely pleased that legal services across the country will have their funding restored.  However, the exclusion of EDOs highlights the government’s ongoing failure to recognise that communities need access to legal assistance to defend the places that are important to them.

As well as providing community support, EDOs facilitate law reform, make submissions regarding proposed changes to laws, defend existing protections and advocate for more effective protections to ensure the environment is managed sustainably.

It keeps us busy – in the past four months alone, EDO Tasmania has successfully challenged a mining decision in the Tarkine, represented the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre to secure an injunction preventing 4WDs in sensitive cultural heritage areas, supported groups responding to the draft TWWHA management plan, advocated for an extension of the fracking moratorium and helped numerous individuals to understand their legal rights and defend places that they love.

In coming months, we’ll be releasing a discussion paper recommending changes to lift the standards of Tasmania’s environmental legislation, participating in Planning Commission hearings regarding woodchip barges and cable car amendments, producing a practical guide for farmers and responding to Southern interim planning schemes, the review of the Forest  Practices Code and the inquiry into the regulation of aquaculture.

This is important public interest work that no one else does in Tasmania.

In light of Senator Brandis’s announcement confirming the exclusion of EDO Tasmania from future Australian Government funding, we urgently need your help.  Please make a tax deductible donation today for environmental justice in Tasmania.  Your support will enable us to keep using the law to protect the environment.

Our thanks to everyone who’s already contributed, and to those who keep fighting to protect this precious island. We couldn’t do it without you!

Read the EDOs of Australia press release here.

(Gorgeous photo taken off Tasman Island by Frederique Olivier)