An end to population growth integral to environmental law reform
Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has welcomed Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s proposed reforms to Australia’s environmental laws but says they must include policies that lead to an end to population growth.
Minister Plibersek was responding to the 2020 scathing criticism of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by Graeme Samuel. As part of the reforms, Minister Plibersek has called for ‘no new extinctions.’
SPA National president Ms Jenny Goldie says the call for no further extinctions is of prime importance but is dependent on, not only preservation of existing habitat, but creating new habitat at higher latitudes and altitudes into which species can migrate because of climate change.
“Yet critical habitat is still being bulldozed up and down Australia, not just for urban development but also for agriculture to feed all the extra people,” says Ms Goldie.
“Even where people are housed in high-rise or urban in-fill, their ecological footprint extends ever outwards across the countryside.
“All the State of Environment reports, including the last one (SoE 2021), have noted our environment is in decline. SoE2021 was quite categoric that population growth had ‘high impact’ on biodiversity.
“It is pointless to reform law in the Environment silo, if the Treasury/Immigration silo has already decreed extraordinary levels of immigration and population growth.
“Preservation of habitat must be front and central to environmental reform. Yet the government is hell-bent on actually increasing the Coalition’s mass immigration levels that the country endured prior to Covid. These levels were largely responsible for Australia having more than twice the population growth rate of the OECD average.
“Net immigration levels (immigration minus emigration) of nearly a quarter million people annually are incompatible with preserving native habitat and species,” says Ms Goldie.
Minister Plibersek noted 140 proposals in Queensland and NSW which could potentially impact koala habitat. She said they had been under siege ‘for decades’.
“If we don’t want to see our iconic koala become extinct, then we must preserve the forests in which they live and on which they depend,” says Ms Goldie. “To do that, we humans must stop encroaching on them. To achieve that, human population growth simply must end.”