EDITORIAL: Why The Nightly’s fight against Nature Positive reforms is not over yet

Editorial
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Tanya Plibersek and how The Nightly covered Nature Positive The Nightly
Tanya Plibersek and how The Nightly covered Nature Positive The Nightly Credit: The Nightly

In the first edition of The Nightly two months ago, we made you a pledge.

We would fight for common sense, in a world where it was becoming increasingly hard to find.

We would advocate for policies which made economic sense, while also protecting the rights, freedoms and the natural environment that all of us hold dear.

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That’s exactly what we’ve done with our coverage of the Albanese Government’s so-called Nature Positive reform.

We’re proud to have helped draw attention to the profound weaknesses of this wide-ranging plan to overhaul Australia’s environmental laws.

It was a plan that took Australians by surprise given Labor made no mention of it in the lead up to the 2022 election.

It was a plan that threatened to act as a handbrake on productivity, already threatening to splutter to a standstill thanks to the burdens of red and green tape.

It was a plan that industries including mining and agriculture feared would cost literally billions and environmental groups didn’t much like either.

It was a bad plan, a bad policy and we’re glad to have put its shortcomings on the national agenda and held Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to account.

Thankfully, they’ve taken notice of industry’s considerable anxieties about Nature Positive and have backed away from the most controversial parts of the reform, which would require project proponents to achieve “net positive” outcomes for nature.

The Government was planning to introduce a series of national environmental standards to underpin the new regime, sparking fears of more red tape and slower approval times.

But there is now no timeframe for introducing those standards, and there is only a commitment to continue consultation with environmental groups, industry, and States and Territories.

Instead, the Federal Government will focus on its plans to create a new national environmental protection agency and increase penalties for “intentional” breaches of environmental laws.

Shelving plans for the biggest and worst parts of the overhaul is welcome, and has no doubt brought some relief to the many segments of the economy which viewed these new laws with dread.

But the fight isn’t over yet.

As Graeme Samuel, the man behind the legislative rewrite today said, the plans might have been put on the shelf, but they’re not dead yet.

This isn’t over.

When Ms Plibersek initially announced the Government’s intentions to update the 25-year-old act, she said the aim was to better protect nature while simultaneously cutting red tape and speeding up approval time frames.

Those are admirable goals that no doubt have the support of all Australians.

But unfortunately, those good intentions were not going to translate into reality under the initial Nature Positive plan.

To work, this reform must be done in a sensible fashion.

And readers can be assured The Nightly will be even more vigilant about what happens next.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by The Nightly Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie.

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