Biodiversity Legislation (Priority Reforms) Bill 2014

Although some of the world’s most distinctive biodiversity is found in Australia, the most exceptional is in Western Australia. Yet Western Australia’s biodiversity is experiencing unprecedented pressure because of the cumulative impacts of land use conversion, fragmentation of ecosystems, high population growth, high personal consumption levels, and changing climatic conditions, combined with a limited understanding and appreciation within the community of the State’s impressive array of unique flora and fauna. 

The legislation that guides Western Australia’s approach to biodiversity conservation is over 60 years old and is inconsistent with contemporary conservation practices. 

This Bill introduces a number of relatively simple amendments to both the Wildlife Conservation Act and the Environmental Protection Act, recognising that an attempt to pursue a comprehensive new biodiversity conservation Act will be a longer process.

The Bill addresses the three key problems outlined.

  • First, a simple statutory mechanism for listing threatened species is provided in the Bill. The process has reasonable but compelling time lines to ensure that decisions are actually taken and not left to languish.
  • Secondly, penalty levels are brought into line with comparable offences under Federal law, that is, the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Where there is no equivalent Federal offence, this Bill raises the WA penalty by a factor of 11 to achieve parity with the key “taking threatened species” offences contained in Federal law.
  • Thirdly, the Bill provides for the Wildlife Conservation Act to apply to the Crown the same as for everyone else in respect of indigenous fauna; currently the Act applies to the Crown in respect of indigenous flora but not fauna.

On the 20 March 2014, I introduced this bill into the Legislative Council and gave my second reading speech

Click here to view the Explanatory Memorandum and here to download the current bill.