Environmental Defenders Office welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Save the Koala) Bill 2021 (EPBC Amendment (Save the Koala) Bill).
The EPBC Amendment (Save the Koala) Bill aims to insert new provisions into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) to protect koalas and koala habitat. The key elements of the Bill are as follows:
- It will introduce a statutory test for determining whether an action has or will have significant impact on koalas for the purpose of section 18 and 18A of the EPBC Act.
- It will remove the ‘RFA exemption’ which removes the requirement for approval under the EPBC Act in circumstances where forestry operations have, will have, or are likely to have a significant impact on koalas.
- It will prevent the Minister from granting approval to an action consisting of or involving the clearing of koala habitat.
- It will introduce definitions for ‘koala habitat’ and ‘koala habitat tree’.
EDO strongly supports increased legal protections for koalas, including in national environmental laws. While at-risk koala populations were listed as a vulnerable species under the EPBC Act in 2012, the Commonwealth can and should play a stronger role in the protection of this iconic species. This is vital given the ongoing decline of at-risk koala populations and in light of the devastating impacts of the 2019-2020 bushfire season on koalas and koala habitat.
Read our submission here.