Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the Liberal National Government had delivered an election commitment to overhaul archaic wildlife legislation with modern and innovative laws that met expectations for environmental protection in the 21st century.
"The passing of the Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2015 in Parliament yesterday delivered conservation powers never before seen in this State," Mr Jacob said.
"The State Government grasped the opportunity to replace outdated and deficient legislation with a more contemporary, robust Act that ensures accountable and effective governance of biodiversity conservation.
"Every provision in this new legislation is superior to the inadequate and outdated Wildlife Conservation Act from 1950. However, Labor voted against everything in the new Act and has shown itself to be out of touch with what is needed for modern conservation."
Under the old Act, people attempting to smuggle native fauna out of WA faced a maximum fine of $4,000 to $10,000 for animals that can be worth more than $100,000 each overseas. The new Act has increased the maximum penalties to up to $500,000 to provide a real deterrent to those considering serious wildlife crimes.
The new Act has enhanced special protection for whales, dugong and dolphins. It also enables listing as critical habitat areas of land or water that are critical to the survival of a threatened species or community.
There is now increased public scrutiny of Ministerial decisions on listing native species and improved Ministerial accountability measures, particularly in relation to decisions that may result in extinction, which now must be approved by both Houses of Parliament. These decisions can currently be made without this scrutiny. These additional accountability measures were also opposed by Labor.
Fines have increased to $1 million for illegally obtaining sandalwood, and for the first time, WA has verifiable record keeping of trading and processing of sandalwood.
"Labor had the chance to play a constructive role in shaping these new laws but it chose to obstruct the legislation. They have no credibility when it comes to protecting the environment," the Minister said.
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