Zali Steggall makes amendments to Nature Repair Market Bill

21 June 2023

I move amendments (1) to (4), as circulated in my name, together:

(1) Page 193 (after line 4), at the end of Division 2, add:

173A Information about market for biodiversity certificates

The Secretary may publish information on the Department's website about the market for biodiversity certificates, including information about any of the following:

(a) the development of the market;

(b) opportunities to participate in the market;

(c) the way in which the market contributes, or could contribute, to the enhancement or protection of biodiversity in native species in Australia.

(2) Clause 219, page 237 (line 15), after "persons", insert "(including Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders, other individuals and small businesses)".

(3) Clause 219, page 237 (line 17), after "applicants", insert "(including Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders, other individuals and small businesses)".

(4) Clause 219, page 237 (after line 30), after paragraph (j), insert:

(ja) to advise and assist persons (including Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders, other individuals and small businesses) for the purpose of supporting participation in the market for biodiversity certificates;

These amendments are important in that they seek to incorporate into the biodiversity credit market, which will be established by the Nature Repair Market Bill, the recommendations of the Chubb review into the operation of the carbon credit markets. I firstly thank the minister for her responses and clarifications to questions just provided, in particular in relation to the timing, essentially, of when the Nature Repair Market will commence trading and confirmation that it will not be trading prior to offsets standards being established and the EPBC Act amendments occurring. That is where reassurance is sought by so many in our communities, including in Warringah.

The amendments that I have proposed seek to increase participation into the biodiversity credit market by small landholders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander landholders by increasing the level of awareness and education about the scheme. These landholders in particular can generate great dividends for biodiversity in Australia. First Nations people have been great custodians of Australia, our land and our waters, for over 65,000 years. We can and must do everything possible to incentivise their participation in the repair of nature as well. Education about the incentives available through the Nature Repair Market and their ability to participate in that market are the minimum we should be doing to develop their participation in this scheme.

Similarly, small landholders are often those who are more willing and able to participate in schemes such as this and can be vital to the development of consistent corridors for migration and rapid restoration of habitat. So these amendments, therefore, are critical to the overall success of biodiversity restoration in Australia.

I'd like to thank the Australian Land Conservation Alliance for their engagement, advocacy and advice and their incredible work in conservation in years to date—in fact, doing much of the work that we hope is now going to get supercharged from this nature repair market. I'd also like to thank the minister and her staff for their engagement on this issue and on these amendments in particular, and their willingness to proactively meet and discuss it. It is this place working at its best when the government proposes legislation that can be discussed, debated, amended and improved for the better of all.

Since the Samuels review, I've certainly passionately advocated for strong national environmental standards and amendments to the EPBC Act, so I do look forward to taking note of the comments of the minister, to working closely with the minister over the coming months on the development of lasting reforms through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and to working towards the establishment of a nature finance corporation, both of which I hope would be key to the ultimate success of this nature repair market. And I do pledge advocacy to getting that push for additional financial support to ensure there is that incentive and that collaboration from public and private finance.

As identified by so many members here, and acknowledged by the minister, the greatest threat to nature and biodiversity is ultimately climate change and global warming, and so I look forward to further opportunities to improve our response in that respect.