According to the Department of Environment and Energy, Australia is home to more than one million species and 85 per cent of the country’s flora, 84 per cent of its mammals, 45 per cent of its birds are found nowhere else on earth.
But 35 per cent of all global mammal extinctions since the year 1500 have been Australian (30 out of 84 world-wide extinctions). And just this year the Bramble Cay melomys – a native Australian mammal – became the first extinction attributable to climate change.
Australia needs urgent action to prevent further extinctions and protect our iconic animal and plant life.
The facts are stark:
A Shorten Labor Government will reform Australia’s environment laws and create a new Environment Protection Agency. It is clear that something is wrong at the heart of how we care for our environment – we need a framework which actively compels the Australian Government to protect our iconic wildlife.
To further drive a national effort to save our iconic wildlife, a Shorten Labor Government will establish a Native Species Protection Fund – which will seek to both restore numbers of endangered plants and animals and eliminate non-native pests.
The Fund will be established through an initial $100 million investment to tackle the most pressing extinction and invasive species issues. Labor will call on all states and territories, business and civil society to join in a national effort to protect our iconic animal and plant species.
Projects could be as simple as engaging Indigenous Rangers to help eliminate invasive plants and feral animals, to much more innovative ideas: for example, it could help fund research into new forms of pest control – such as baits, poisons, or even research to engineer genetic traits to eliminate invasive species after a number of generations.
The Fund will also be used to increase the pace at which recovery plans are put in place and acted on which has all but ground to a halt under this government.
Labor will also seek to harness the initial investment to attract more funding from states and territories, the private sector and Australian philanthropists.
The Fund will be administered by the Environment portfolio and will not seek to replace work currently being undertaken in existing programs, but rather it will complement and add to it.
The Fund will be guided by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee and in consultation with experts from conservation, science/research backgrounds and the private sector to advise on best projects. It will also be directed to closely collaborate with NGOs and community groups which are already working to deliver on species recovery.
The Environment Department and TSSC would also set a priority list of threatened species for protection and invasive species that need to be managed. To maintain transparency, the Fund would publish annual reports to government, documenting progress on its mandate and the priority list.
One factor of success or otherwise will be when an endangered species is removed from the threatened species list.
As the only country occupying an entire continent, Australia has a responsibility to protect our unique natural environment.
We are facing an extinction crisis and only Labor is prepared to take action.