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The Nightly survey by Painted Dog: Aussies call for rethink on green laws as ‘Nature Positive’ debate rages

Staff reporters
The Nightly
3 Min Read
The Painted Dog Research poll comes as the Albanese Government shows signs of slowing down its contentious ‘nature positive’ reforms, which seek to drastically overhaul decades’ old environmental practices.  Pictured: Tanya Plibersek and Jonathon Duniam
The Painted Dog Research poll comes as the Albanese Government shows signs of slowing down its contentious ‘nature positive’ reforms, which seek to drastically overhaul decades’ old environmental practices.  Pictured: Tanya Plibersek and Jonathon Duniam Credit: The Nightly

Australia’s environmental protections are disconnected from reality and risk going too far, according to an exclusive survey for The Nightly.

The Painted Dog Research poll comes as the Albanese Government shows signs of slowing down its contentious ‘nature positive’ reforms, which seek to drastically overhaul decades’ old environmental practices.

The survey found 51 per cent of the 1014 respondents believed laws to protect the environment were out of touch.

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Just 25 per cent disagreed, while the remaining quarter were undecided.

On the question of whether laws to protect the environment have gone too far, respondents were roughly split: 39 per cent disagreed while 36 per cent agreed.

Again, the remaining quarter were undecided.

Men were much more likely to believe there was an overreach in environmental legislation, 41 per cent agreeing compared to 33 per cent of women.

Conversely, 37 per cent of men disagreed – leaving 22 per cent undecided – while among women, 40 per cent did not think environmental laws went too far and 27 per cent were undecided.

The Nightly this week revealed the Federal Government was poised to split up its sprawling package of environmental protection reforms, which have come under sustained attack in recent weeks.

The change in approach follows an outpouring of anger from stakeholders involved in the secretive consultation process, which has involved flying participants to Canberra to participate in closed doors briefing sessions where they are forbidden to bring mobile phones or laptops.

Federal Labor is planning wide-scale 40km/hr highway speed limits as part of the ‘Nature Positive Plan’.
Federal Labor is planning wide-scale 40km/hr highway speed limits as part of the ‘Nature Positive Plan’. Credit: The Nightly

What was originally expected to be the last of those sessions was held this week, but critical components of the proposed laws have still not been presented for scrutiny.

They include First Nations consultation requirements – an issue that has wreaked havoc on the offshore oil and gas sector, forcing Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King to draft amended laws that seek to cut off spurious legal challenges.

In WA, a complete rewrite of 50-year-old Aboriginal cultural heritage laws was abandoned by Premier Roger Cook just weeks after the new Act came into effect in part because of the onerous new consultation requirements.

Also not yet revealed is the definition for a ‘national significance’ threshold that triggers an assessment by a proposed federal Environment Protection Authority, or how new critical protection areas will be identified and applied.

Premier Roger Cook at Swanbourne press conference
In WA, a complete rewrite of 50-year-old Aboriginal cultural heritage laws was abandoned by Premier Roger Cook just weeks after the new Act came into effect in part because of the onerous new consultation requirements. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

At Wednesday’s closed-door briefing, business and environment groups were given a rough outline of the “calculator” that will be used to determine how much a proponent will need to pay to restore a damaged environment.

However, it remains unclear how the cost of achieving a “nature positive” outcome will be calculated.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek is now widely expected break up the reforms into smaller pieces of legislation, with industry believing a new Federal EPA – promised one day before the 2022 election – will be the first cab off the rank.

Asked this week about when proposed laws would be presented to stakeholders in their entirety, Ms Plibersek appeared to indicate additional briefing sessions were being planned.

“We’ve said from the beginning consultation will occur on a rolling basis so we can get the detail right, and that will continue,” she said.

“We’re working methodically on sensible updates to national environment law, so the system works better for both business and nature - something the Liberals promised, but never delivered.”

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