Our New Nature Laws campaign (publicly known as Act for Birds) is national and ambitious. We want everyone to feel confident talking about why overhauling the laws that protect our environment is so important. We've created this FAQ to answer any questions you may have or may be asked when championing this campaign. For context, we recommend you read our New Laws fact sheet first.
Why is this campaign necessary?
Australia is full of special places — places with wonderful birds, spectacular scenery and beautiful wildflowers. And yet few of these special places receive the level of protection they should, and many are under threat from all kinds of complex environmental challenges.
Our current nature laws are inadequate, unable to deal effectively with the big issues facing our birds — habitat loss, development, fire, feral animals and climate change. They're all pushing nature, including our birds, to the brink.
Current legislation, including the national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999, has failed to deliver the protections it promised.
'Act for Birds' is about championing a new generation of nature laws so we can fix these problems — for good.
We are aiming for a more effective, comprehensive and efficient system to be implemented. We need a system where all Australians can participate in key decisions in a consistent way, no matter where they are. We need all decisions to be transparent. We need an accountable decision-maker to ensure major environmental issues are managed for the benefit of all.
Most importantly, we need a system which is designed so that Australia's natural heritage is adequately protected and restored, to ensure we don’t have to keep fighting the same battles, again and again.
Where can I find more information on new nature laws and resources for the Act for Birds campaign?
Who is involved?
BirdLife Australia is running this campaign in parallel with the Places You Love Alliance. The Places You Love Alliance is a group of 42 organisations representing over 1.5 million Australians who love our wonderful birds and other wildlife; our unique biodiversity; our national parks and world heritage listed wonders; our rivers, lakes, wetlands and coastlines; our old growth forests and ancient habitats; and our right as people to live healthy lives with green spaces, clean air and a safe climate.
The Alliance is working with the Australian community to stand up for nature by fighting for stronger, more effective and efficient national environmental laws and institutions. Find out more about the Places You Love Alliance and which organisations are involved at: placesyoulove.org
I want to get involved!
Easy! Get in touch and we'll ask you a few questions to understand how you can best help the campaign using your unique skillset and experience. We can also connect you with others in your community working on the campaign.
The most effective way to get involved is to engage your local Member of Parliament (MP) on this issue – it’s the only way we’re going to get nature laws on their radar as something important that need to be fixed. This is urgent. Nature laws are failing people and birds every day. The more people we have writing, calling and meeting with their elected representatives, the more likely we are to see real policy change. You may find this a prospect a little daunting, so why not organise a group to meet with your local Member rather than doing it alone?
Here are some other ways you can help:
- Advocate for strong nature laws and spread the word about why they're necessary in the local media or to community groups. You could share actions online or start conversations at home, work, school or university. What’s been happening in your neck of the woods? How has the current system failed to protect threatened birds?
- Show up at a local event or group. Meet other people in your local area and take easy actions in a fun environment. BirdLife will facilitate a bunch of events throughout the campaign and we’d love to see you there!
- Organise a group to meet with your MP or create a local action or event
To support you to engage your local MP and your local community we can provide resources including:
- Fact sheets and in-depth case studies
- Eye-catching poster templates to print out and post on social media
- A how-to guide for meeting with your MP
- A how-to guide for engaging with the media
- Templates for writing meeting requests, submissions, letters, and media pieces
You’ll find all our Act for Birds campaign resources at actforbirds.org/resources
What is the EPBC Act?
The Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is a Commonwealth Act of the Parliament of Australia that provides a framework for protection of the Australian environment, including its biodiversity and its natural and culturally significant places.
This framework, written specifically to protect Australia's biodiversity, will soon be up for review. Expert consensus is that the EPBC Act is failing to do what it says – protect our environment and conserve our biodiversity.
To read more about the EPBC Act and why various experts are calling for an overhaul of Australia’s nature laws, read BirdLife Australia’s report “Restoring the Balance: The Case for a New Generation of Australian Environmental Laws.” To find out how the failures of the EPBC Act have affected nature, research and conservation more broadly, you can turn to the Guardian’s 'Spotlight on Neglected Environmental Issues.'
What legislative reform is BirdLife Australia asking for?
There are four reforms that Birdlife, along with the whole PYL alliance, is calling for:
1. Create strong national environment laws that genuinely protect Australia’s natural and cultural heritage. The Federal Government must retain responsibility for current Matters of National Environmental Significance and protect them effectively. National oversight must be expanded to land clearing, biodiversity and ecosystems, water resources, climate change, air pollution and protected areas.
2. Establish an independent National Sustainability Commission to set national environmental standards, undertake strategic regional planning and report on national environmental performance. The commission would also develop enforceable national, regional, threat abatement and species level conservation plans.
3. Establish an independent National Environmental Protection Authority that operates at arm’s-length from Government to conduct transparent environmental assessments and inquiries as well as undertake monitoring, compliance and enforcement actions.
4. Guarantee community rights and participation in environmental decision making, including open legal standing provisions, open access to information about decision making and environmental trends, review of decisions based on their merits, third-party enforcement provisions and protections for costs in the public interest.
When will we have new laws in place?
We want these reforms underway within 100 days of the next federal election (2018-19), but given the uncertain nature of politics, no time-frames are guaranteed. However, this is a long-term reform process - we want to create a system robust enough to be in place for decades, while at the same time being adaptable enough to deal with a changing world.
To achieve that goal, we'll need to plan not just to make the reforms happen in 2019, but to retain that protection in the long-term. It's clear that the community will play a central role in bringing about these reforms and making them work.
Still have a question about the New Laws campaign?
Use this form to submit your questions. We'll update this page with your most frequently asked questions.
Flock of Princess Parrots by Lisa Harris