The Labor Party has irresponsibly opposed the Liberal National Government's Biodiversity Conservation Bill, which brings Western Australia's outdated conservation laws into the 21st century.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the recent State Parliamentary debate about the Bill was the first time in more than 60 years that a Western Australian Government had considered modern conservation laws, and Labor had flunked the test of its commitment to conservation.
Mr Jacob said the Liberal National Government had delivered its 2013 election commitment to introduce legislation replacing the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 - an initiative no Labor government had ever come close to doing despite repeated promises to do so.
"The Labor Party is irresponsible and short-sighted for opposing the Biodiversity Conservation Bill in the Legislative Assembly last night," the Minister said.
"When the moment arrived for the Australian Labor Party in Western Australia to do something that it has always aspired to do, to support a biodiversity conservation Bill, it voted against it.
"The existing law under the Wildlife Conservation Act has no capacity to deliver modern environmental management. The Labor Party's lack of support for this new Bill shows how little it understands the complexities of biodiversity conservation.
"It's clear the Opposition is more concerned with playing politics than conservation and species protection.
"I have considered all past proposals and comments so the Bill has the right key features sought by most of the community. It's a significant overhaul of WA's environmental legislation and delivers initiatives to an extent never before seen in this State."
Mr Jacob said the new Bill allowed the listing of threatened ecological communities for the first time in Western Australia. It had the capacity to list critical habitats and included opportunities to facilitate private conservation efforts.
The Bill contains increased penalties to $500,000 for infringements that affect critically endangered animals, including whales and dolphins
Sandalwood provisions include new penalties of up to $200,000 for an individual and up to $1 million for a corporation
The Bill streamlines development approvals by recognising other State approval mechanisms and providing a pathway for exemptions under Commonwealth legislation
Minister's office - 6552 5800