Coalition accused of sitting on environmental report to avoid delivering ‘more bad news’ | Surroundings – Advice Eating

Morrison’s government has been accused of sitting on a major testimony about Australia’s environment it received more than three months ago to avoid “more bad news”.

Labour, the Greens, Independent MP Zali Steggall, environmental groups and scientists have called on the Government to release the State of Australia’s Environment Report, which is prepared by scientists and produced every five years.

The latest report, the first since 2016, was handed over to Environment Minister Sussan Ley in December.

The minister must submit the report to Parliament within 15 sitting days of receipt. With elections expected within a few days and parliament having only met briefly this year, the government is under no legal obligation to release it until the next parliament is formed.

At an appraisal hearing last week, Labor and Green senators urged the government to set a date for the report, but were told only that the minister would honor her legal obligations.

Labor environment spokeswoman Terri Butler urged the government to release the report before Australians vote in May.

“It’s a shame that the Morrison-Joyce government is sitting on this important five-year report,” she said. “What are they hiding?

“Australians deserve to know how the environment fared under the Morrison-Joyce government so they can decide if they want a second decade of the same mismanagement.”

Green Party environment spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young asked why Ley had not released the report when she received the completed document months ago.

“The government has to release it before the elections are called,” she said.

“Voters deserve to know the official state of the environment under this administration and what they are voting on.”

Independent MP Zali Steggall said the 2016 report painted a bleak picture for nature, as Australia’s environment is under increasing pressure from land clearance, population growth, climate change, urban and industrial development and pests.

She accused the government of sitting on the report because it would bring “more bad news” and “drive home this coalition government’s ecological negligence”.

The State of the Environment report follows a series of official reviews assessing the Australian government’s environmental performance.

The 2020 review of Australia’s national environmental laws, chaired by former competition regulator Graeme Samuel, found successive governments had failed to stem the decline of Australia’s wildlife and called for an overhaul of environmental protections.

Last month a review by the Auditor General found the federal government could not show it was protecting Australia’s endangered wildlife as it did not monitor most species, habitats or threats and there was limited evidence that conservation plans were being implemented.

Euan Ritchie, a professor of ecology and conservation at Deakin University, said reports like the State of the Environment are important because they show what needs to change to address Australia’s dire conservation record.

Jess Abrahams, conservationist at the Australian Conservation Foundation, said Australians have a right to know the extent of the natural crisis before the election.

He pointed to the recent endangered listings of both the koala and gang-gang cockatoo and the collapse of Bogong moth populations as high-profile examples of how Australia’s environment is faring.

“This decline is not an accident – it is done on behalf of the federal government and is the result of decisions made by the federal government,” he said.

Suzanne Milthorpe, campaign manager for national environmental legislation at the Wilderness Society, said the report’s release is crucial at a time when the effects of climate change are being felt in floods and fires across the country.

“Regardless of who wins the upcoming elections, the next parliament urgently needs to take action to fix Australia’s environmental laws that protect nature and communities,” she said.

A spokesman for Ley said “the report will be released within the legal timeframe set out in the law”.

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