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Environment and Communications References Committee—Interim report—Australia’s faunal extinction crisis—Government response, dated September 2020

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Australian Government Response

Environment and Communications References Committee Inquiry Interim Report:

Australia’s Faunal Extinction Crisis

September 2020



On 27 June 2018, the Senate referred the following matter to Environment and Communications References Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 4 December 2018.

Australia's faunal extinction crisis, including:

a. the ongoing decline in the population and conservation status of Australia's nearly 500 threatened fauna species;

b. the wider ecological impact of faunal extinction;

c. the international and domestic obligations of the Commonwealth Government in conserving threatened fauna;

d. the adequacy of Commonwealth environment laws, including but not limited to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, in providing sufficient protections for threatened fauna and against key threatening processes;

e. the adequacy and effectiveness of protections for critical habitat for threatened fauna under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;

f. the adequacy of the management and extent of the National Reserve System, stewardship arrangements, covenants and connectivity through wildlife corridors in conserving threatened fauna;

g. the use of traditional knowledge and management for threatened species recovery and other outcomes as well as opportunities to expand the use of traditional knowledge and management for conservation;

h. the adequacy of existing funding streams for implementing threatened species recovery plans and preventing threatened fauna loss in general;

i. the adequacy of existing monitoring practices in relation to the threatened fauna assessment and adaptive management responses;

j. the adequacy of existing assessment processes for identifying threatened fauna conservation status;

k. the adequacy of existing compliance mechanisms for enforcing Commonwealth environment law; and

l. any related matters.

The reporting date for the inquiry was subsequently extended to the second sitting Wednesday of 2021.

The Australian Government has considered the recommendations of the Committee’s Interim Report and has provided the response below.


Recommendation 1

The committee recommends that to limit the drivers of faunal extinction, the Commonwealth develop new environmental legislation to replace the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Recommendation 2

The committee recommends that the Commonwealth establish an independent Environment Protection Agency (EPA), with sufficient powers and funding to oversee compliance with Australia’s environmental laws.

Response to Recommendations 1 and 2:


The Government welcomes the opportunity to improve the effectiveness of environment protections under the EPBC Act. An independent review of the Act is currently underway. All recommendations coming out of that review will be considered in due course.

The Australian Government has in place several important measures to safeguard Australia's fauna. This includes protection under the EPBC Act, policies such as the Strategy for Nature and the Threatened Species Strategy (lead by the Threatened Species Commissioner), investment in research through the National Environmental Science Program, and programs to support on-ground activities including through the $1 billion National Landcare Program, the Environment Restoration Fund, the Communities Environment Program, and more recently through the Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery package.

The Australian Government looks forward to the Final Report from the committee.