Is Victoria’s new threatened species ‘action plan’ –really a ‘dither plan’?

Victoria’s backlog of almost 500 listed species that currently have no legal protection, have finally seen a plan* to plan for their protection.

Govt spin won't save our wildlife

Environment East Gippsland legally challenged the government’s neglect to write protection measures for most of the state’s rare species last June. It was settled in October 2013, but we’re still concerned that 200-300 listed threatened wildlife and native plants could remain unprotected.

The ‘plan to plan for the plans’, was part of the out-of-court settlement agreed to by the Victorian government to detail how it intends to deal with the huge backlog of 474 rare and threatened wildlife and native plants that have no protection. But Minister Walsh’s department left out the details and offers no timeline for if, or when, they intend to complete all the species’ protection measures.

A few trite words are not enough. Targets, quantitative and time limited, with measurable KPIs are needed. Otherwise their plan is just a mickey mouse vague intention. As it stands, the plan does not hold them accountable and there is no penalty for failure to meet targets – which it doesn’t specify.

The department has outlined how it intends to prioritise ‘a number’ of species over the next three years, but gives no assurance that it will urgently create enforceable protection plans for hundreds that can still be legally destroyed by logging, mining and development. We might only see 12 or 20 species gain legislated protection as a result of this.

It is ironic that the lawyers of the Environment Defenders Office who helped with this case are now endangered themselves, due to the Abbott Government’s sudden withdrawal of funds just before Christmas. But this is a clear sign that legal action against government’s failure to protect the environment is having an effect.

* Action_Statement_Three_Year_Plan.pdf

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