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Law Reform · Nature & the Reef

Queensland laws sabotage long-term plan to protect Reef

28 October, 2014

New and proposed Queensland laws will sabotage the Federal Government’s plan to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan is the keystone of the Federal Government’s response to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s request to ensure that the Outstanding Universal Value of the Reef is protected.

“An ANEDO analysis of existing and proposed Queensland laws shows those laws in many cases contradict and sabotage the Reef Plan’s objectives and outcomes,” said EDO Queensland’s Principal Solicitor Jo Bragg.

“The Government’s 2050 Reef Plan provides no commitment to fix Queensland’s weak laws. This means those laws will remain in place, sabotaging progress in protecting the Reef.”

“Further, the plan has no legislative basis and is not enforceable. If one or both of the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments failed to take action on the objectives and targets, there are no legal consequences under Australian law for either one of them.”

The ANEDO submission found the Queensland Government:

  • is removing ecologically sustainable development principles from planning and environmental legislation, in direct contradiction to the decision-making principles of the Reef 2050 Plan
  • is weakening land use and planning laws (ignoring climate change and sea level rise) which is likely to see greater impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the Reef
  • is weakening vegetation and water management laws that will reduce water quality in Reef catchments, and ignores impacts of proposed increases in agricultural production.
  • is cutting out the public’s rights to challenge environmental decision making, contrary to the governance arrangements of the Plan being ‘transparent and accountable’.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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