Build back better claims slammed: Australian icons under threat

18 April 2020

Revelations today that more than 100 plant and animal species are under imminent threat are a stark reminder that the Morrison Government has been devastatingly slow to act on bushfire recovery.
 
Experts have warned that a billion animals perished in the fires. This loss of wildlife, coupled with the decimation of habitat, means that many Australian species are on the brink of survival.
 
Australia’s ecological crisis continues unabated.
 
However, seven months after the bushfires commenced in September 2019, the Morrison Government had failed to make a significant impact on bushfire recovery efforts to protect Australian fauna and flora.
 
Australians understand that the coronavirus has impacted on our ability to get work done, but this Government shouldn’t use it as an excuse for the months of inaction before the virus restrictions were in place. 
 
The Environment Minister has repeatedly claimed that more money will flow to address the ecological devastation, and that the Morrison Government will “Build Back Better” but the reality is they are asleep at the wheel of Australia’s bushfire recovery and protecting Australian species.
 
The Minister claimed she would be cracking the whip, but it’s now April, and the bushfires started in September last year, seven months ago.
 
Labor called for a comprehensive, boots-on-the-ground, national ecological audit in January, to mobilise an army of scientific and land management specialists to properly assess and take strong action on the recovery.
 
There hasn’t been a boots-on-the-ground ecological audit, even before the coronavirus restrictions.  The full extent of the ecological damage is not yet known. There hasn’t been a change in the 40% cuts to the environment department since this government came to office. 
 
There is also no change to the less than 40% of threatened species that have recovery plans, nor the fact that the government is clueless about whether existing plans are being implemented.
 
The time for the Minister’s whip cracking has long past, and so has the time for empty promises and piecemeal action to preserve Australia’s precious wildlife.
 
The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government has spent seven years ignoring Australian scientists, cutting the capacity of the Government departments to respond to natural disasters and crises such as drought and bushfires, and their responses are devastatingly slow and ineffectual.  
 
Australians deserve to have confidence in their Federal Government to manage crises, including the ecological crisis resulting from the national bushfires.
  
SATURDAY, 18 APRIL 2020