In the lead up to the 2020 Queensland election, we were thrilled to see a commitment from Queensland Labor to "investigate and consult on the establishment of an independent Environmental Protection Agency which other states have to protect our environment, create jobs, and support economic growth."
This was followed up with a discussion paper, which invited consultation from a range of sectors and stakeholders. Dissatisfied with the level of engagement offered in this process, a group of Queensland conservation organisations drafted a joint response in July 2022, which was signed onto by 35 organisations in total.
It detailed what we expected in an independent EPA for Queensland, which we felt were missing from the government's discussion paper. Our key asks were narrowed down to the following:
- First Nations justice must be a central focus of environmental governance within the EPA, with First Nations and their interests meaningfully represented in decision-making, given the role of environmental decisions in destructive colonisation.
- The EPA must be an empowered, sufficiently resourced science-led environmental regulator, independent of ministerial and industry influence, and not overridden by other agencies.
- There must be consistent decision-making across all government agencies to meet key environmental targets, such as climate and biodiversity targets, with the EPA empowered and obliged to enforce the achievement of these targets.