The Australia Institute Tasmania commends the Planning Ministers decision to direct the Tasmanian Planning Commission to produce a State of the Environment (SOE) Report by June 2024.
Following research and advocacy from the Australia Institute, the EDO and other groups, the Minister for Planning Michael Ferguson MP has recognised the importance of SOE Reports, that the State of the Environment Report must be produced by an independent body at arms-length from Government, and the pre-eminent independent body is the Commission.
SOE Reports are about knowing where we stand in terms of the health of our environment. Tasmania’s environment is a national treasure and the bedrock of our economy for tourism, agriculture, fishing and recreation. The recent national State of the Environment report painted a dire picture of decimated kelp forests, fire seasons, freshwater pollution and habitat destruction but Tasmanians are mostly in the dark at the local level.
- The State Policies and Projects Act 1993 requires the Tasmanian Planning Commission to publish a State of the Environment report once every 5 years, but there has been no report since 2009.
- There have been 2 missed reports – 2014 and 2019 – a Tasmanian report is now 8 years overdue.
- The Australia Institute Tasmania’ lawyers, Environmental Defenders Office wrote to the Minister for Planning in August, pointing out the breach in the law and the Minister’s power to address it.
- The Minister has responded by recognising the importance of SOE Reports, that the State of the Environment Report must be produced by an independent body at arms-length from Government, and that the pre-eminent independent body is the Commission.
“We welcome the Government’s announcement that State of the Environment Reports are back on the agenda. The Government has been flying blind on the health of most of Tasmania’s ecosystems since 2009. We urgently need an updated Report delivered well before the next state election,” said Eloise Carr, Director the Australia Institute Tasmania.
“The Australia Institute and the Environmental Defenders Office wrote to the Minister pointing out that the Planning Commission has been in breach of the law since 2014. Although the report will be a decade late, this is a win for the law, and a win for the environment.
“We also commend the Government for recognising that these reports need to be produced by an independent body at arms-length from Government, and that the pre-eminent independent body is the Commission.
“The next State of the Environment Report must provide a comprehensive evidence base to inform strategic priorities, land use planning, including in regard to environmental management recommendations,” concluded Eloise Carr, Director the Australia Institute Tasmania.
“We are pleased, that after being urged to do so, the Minister is exercising his power to direct the Planning Commission to comply with its legal duties and produce a State of the Environment Report,” said EDO Managing Lawyer Claire Bookless.
“Given the climate and extinction crises we face, it is simply not good enough that Tasmanians have been waiting for over a decade for an environmental health check.
“Tasmanians have a right to know how our resource and planning laws are performing, especially considering all the sweeping changes that have been made to those laws in the past eight years.
“It is now vital that the Planning Commission is appropriately resourced to produce the next State of Environment report, and future reports,” concluded Ms Bookless.