The Morrison Government’s new Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Market Bill looks set to fail Australia’s environment despite promises to help ecosystem restoration, the Australian Greens have said today.
The Greens will refer the bill to a Senate inquiry for review and have called on the Labor Party to back an inquiry, before voting on the bill.
Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson for the environment, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young:
“There are major flaws in the Morrison Joyce Government’s legislation that need to be reviewed and amended before the bill can pass the Senate. Setting our environment up to fail through the establishment of another inefficient offsets scheme without proper oversight is simply not acceptable.
“Labor needs to work with the Greens to protect the environment and not run cover for Barnaby Joyce and his National Party mates.
“The Bill in its current form is too similar to Australia’s carbon offset scheme, a scheme which has been revealed as severely lacking in integrity - little more than a wealth transfer with no additional emissions reductions.
“An inquiry will ensure that the biodiversity offsets bill is instead built on evidence, integrity and transparency, and contains sufficient protections to deliver the environmental outcomes it promises.
“Restoration of our ecosystems is vital. Any offsets market must have longevity to ensure that the scheme is not just providing short-term revenue for farmers without long-term biodiversity restoration.
“The Greens have major concerns with the large amount of discretion this bill gives the Minister for Agriculture to make long-term environmental decisions, without robust transparency or regulation. We already know what happens when Barnaby Joyce and the National Party give themselves unchecked power - the environment and our rivers suffer, and big, corporate agriculture get rich at the expense of everyone else.
“Why is the scheme administered by the Agriculture Minister, when the objects of the Bill are relating to protecting biodiversity? With an inquiry, we can look into these issues and ensure the best governance decisions are made to ensure the objects of the Bill are met.
“A system built with integrity and good governance will support farmers to undertake permanent land restoration and invest in biodiversity”.
Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson for agriculture, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson:
“We must support farmers wanting to do their bit for climate change - but parts of this Bill mimic the government’s blotched carbon credit scheme and that will support nobody.
“Few industries are more impacted by climatic disruption to ecosystems and biodiversity than farming and farmers are an important part of the climate solution - we can’t risk the goodwill of farmers by failing them now.
“It’s critical that this Bill is sent to a Senate inquiry for review. We have to get this right, our farmers' futures depend on it.”