WA Government must act on environmental reform

Posted on 07 September 2012  | 
Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo.
Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo.
© WWF-Aus / Helen Pitman Enlarge
The Western Australian Government needs to commit to urgent reform of the state’s outdated environmental laws before it is too late for WA’s iconic wildlife such as quokkas, quendas and wambengers, WWF-Australia said today.

© Helen Pitman / WWF-Aus © Mike Griffiths © Todd Soderquist © Katherine Howard / WWF-Aus

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman said today, National Threatened Species Day, would be the perfect time for Premier Colin Barnett to announce that the state’s 62-year-old Wildlife Conservation Act undergo a comprehensive overhaul.

“Western Australia not only has an economy that is the envy of the world, but also boasts a wealth of environmental wonders and unique wildlife. WA is home to an astonishing number and diversity of plant species, and such iconic animals as the much-loved quokka and Carnaby’s black cockatoo,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“But the WA we love – the wildlife, landscapes and lifestyle – is under threat as the state undergoes unprecedented mining exploration and urban development to support the demands of rapid population growth.

“WA’s Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 is ready for retirement. It provides no protection for the habitat of threatened species and the penalties for killing a threatened species under this Act are so low as to be barely a slap on the wrist to anyone breaking the law.

“Carnaby’s black cockatoos are classified under WA and Australian law as threatened with extinction. The cockatoos are driven to damaging some crops due to limited food supplies, but the small fines imposed for killing these creatures provide an economic incentive for people to shoot them rather than protect crops with netting.

“The brush-tailed phascogale, known in WA as the wambenger, is listed under state law as ‘rare or likely to become extinct’. But this listing is rendered largely ineffective by the 63 year old Wildlife Conservation Act providing no real protection for the wambenger’s habitat, which continues to be threatened by clearing, mining and logging.

“National Threatened Species Day is a moment to reflect on what kind of legacy we will leave from this era. The need for reform is already urgent – procrastination is not an option.

“The good news is that we can fix the laws and bring them up to date. WA needs environmental laws that can take the state from lagging, to leading Australia and the world.”

Mr O’Gorman said National Threatened Species Day is an opportunity to contemplate the future for Western Australia’s wildlife.

“We must get serious if we are to prevent further extinctions and environmental harm in places like the Southwest, the Kimberley, our marine environment and beyond,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“WA’s nature conservation laws must undergo significant reform as a matter of urgency.

“The clock is ticking. If we don’t act now, the WA we love may be lost.”

WWF-Australia contacts:

Daniel Rockett, Senior Media Officer, 0432 206 592, drockett@wwf.org.au
Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo.
Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo.
© WWF-Aus / Helen Pitman Enlarge

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