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Threatened species inquiry told public servants think Australia is failing

Posted by On 1:33 PM

Threatened species inquiry told public servants think Australia is failing

Conservation Threatened species inquiry told public servants think Australia is failing

Union tells Senate inquiry more than 90% of staff working with threatened species say Australia’s performance is poor

The northern corroboree frog is on the endangered species list in Australia.
The northern corroboree frog is on the endangered species list in Australia. The union for public servants tasked with protecting threatened species says they rate the government’s efforts as poor. Photograph: Zoos Victoria

The Australian government is failing to meet its domestic and international obl igations to protect threatened species and existing environment laws are inadequate, according to public servants working on endangered wildlife.

The admissions are contained in a damning submission by the Community and Public Sector Union to a Senate inquiry investigating Australia’s high rate of fauna extinctions.

In a seven-page submission, the CPSU said it surveyed members who work on threatened species management in the environment department and other government agencies.

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“Staff generally thought the government’s performance was poor or very poor,” it states.

The CPSU said 91.3% of staff who responded to the survey said the government was doing poorly or very poorly in fulfilling domestic and international obligations to conserve threatened fauna and 87% believed the adequacy of Australia’s national environment laws â€" the Environ ment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act â€" was either poor or very poor.

Nearly nine in 10 (87%) said Australia’s effectiveness in protecting critical habitat was poor or very poor, and four in five (82.6%) “thought that adequacy of the management and extent of the national reserve system, stewardship arrangements, covenants and connectivity through wildlife corridors were poor or very poor.”

More than three quarters thought the government was failing to prioritise the protection of native animals and their habitat to prevent extinction.

“It is of little surprise that departmental staff felt the government was not doing enough,” the submission states.

“Funding cuts have affected the department’s ability to support programs that protect critical habitats for threatened fauna and enforce environmental regulations.”

The CPSU wrote that in May this year staff were informed the biodiversity and conservation division of the dep artment would lose the equivalent of 60 full-time staff â€" nearly a third of the division’s workforce â€" because of a 25% budget cut.

It said the cuts were occurring despite growing pressure on the environment and staff were “deeply concerned that Australia’s international obligations to monitor endangered specifies will be affected”.

The submission states this had been compounded by budget cuts over many years, as well as a decrease in national heritage trust funding for habitat and threatened species, and had led to a situation where staff were witnessing less work on faunal extinction.

It says that recovery planning for species could not keep up with the rate of species being listed as threatened and when there was no recovery plan for a species, it was difficult for workers to know what needed to be focused on to help wildlife recover.

“Recovery plans are also often not utilised to the extent they should be and are not as practical or up t o date due to staffing pressures,” it states.

Less than 40% of Australian species have a national recovery plan. The government now favours conservation advice, which does not contain legal powers to compel action.

The CPSU has called for a significant increase in funding for biodiversity and conservation work, an annual $200m investment for recovery plans, and an expansion of the national reserve system to protect habitat with investment of at least $170m a year.

“The current arrangements are clearly not working. Years of budget cuts have resulted in reduced activities, essential corporate knowledge is under threat of being lost, initiatives are in dire need of more resources as, without it, current legislation cannot ensure compliance to address growing faunal extinction,” the submission states.

The Senate inquiry, launched by the Greens with support from Labor and the crossbench, follows an investigation by Guardian Australia into Australia’s s ystem of threatened species management.

The inquiry has so far published 47 submissions from organisations and has received more than 11,000 form letters from the general public. Submissions close on Monday.

“This submission by the CPSU is absolutely damning for the government,” Greens senator and the committee’s chair, Janet Rice said.

“It shows that the workers at the coalface of threatened species protection have no faith in the threatened species strategy, no faith in the adequacy of our environment laws, and are alarmed at the massive reductions in funding to protect our wildlife.”

She said the inquiry would shine a light on what was causing Australia’s high rate of fauna extinction and the volume of submissions and letters was “a massive show of support” for action.

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“The submissions to the inquiry so far reveal the extent tha t our federal government is complicit in the crisis. Its actions and inaction are sending precious native animals closer and closer towards extinction,” she said.

An environment department spokesperson said the department noted “there are number of submissions being made to the Senate inquiry into Australia's faunal extinction crisis”.

“The Department of the Environment and Energy will also be making a submission to the inquiry, which we anticipate will be made available online in due course.”

Comment was sought from the new environment minister, Melissa Price.

Topics
  • Conservation
  • Australian trade unions
  • Australian politics
  • Endangered species
  • Animals
  • Wildlife
  • news
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Source: Google Australia | Netizen 24 Australia

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