- Biodiversity Conservation Bill to replace 65-year-old Wildlife Conservation Act
- Fulfils 2013 election commitment to introduce new legislation
Australia's oldest conservation legislation will soon be replaced with the introduction of a modern, updated Bill to State Parliament to conserve Western Australia's environment.
Premier Colin Barnett said introducing the Biodiversity Conservation Bill 2015 was a momentous step forward in the conservation of the State's biodiversity.
"This long-awaited new legislation will replace the outdated Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and significantly improve the Government's ability to protect native species and important biodiversity assets," Mr Barnett said.
"Successive governments have been trying to update these laws for many years so this is a very significant achievement with new biodiversity conservation laws being introduced for the first time since the 1950s.
"Western Australia's south-west is one of 35 globally recognised biodiversity hotspots with flora and fauna found nowhere else. This legislation ensures these values are appropriately recognised."
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the new Act would give protection to whole ecosystems for the first time.
"In another first for WA legal history, the Bill will allow for the listing of threatened and critical habitat. The Bill also gives special protection to whales, dugongs and dolphins," Mr Jacob said.
Important changes include the increase of maximum penalties for killing or smuggling critically endangered species from $10,000 to $500,000, and from $4,000 to $50,000 for non-threatened species, providing a real deterrent to those considering serious wildlife crimes.
The Bill will also replace the inadequate Sandalwood Act 1929. The $200 maximum penalty for illegally harvesting wild sandalwood will rise to $200,000 for individuals and $1 million for corporations, as well as improving trading and processing accountability.
The Minister said the Bill provided streamlined development approvals by recognising other State approval mechanisms, and provided a pathway to exemptions from approvals under Commonwealth legislation.
"By removing unnecessary regulatory duplication in areas around potential development impacts on threatened species, projects will be able to commence more quickly and with greater certainty than is currently the case," Mr Jacob said.
Environment Minister's office - 6552 5800