Another 12 Australian animals now extinct

Another 12 animals have been declared extinct on a list of Australia's threatened species.
Another 12 animals have been declared extinct on a list of Australia's threatened species.

Another dozen Australian animals have been declared extinct, taking the total number to 34.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley has this week updated the nation's threatened species list, under environmental protection laws.

Marsupials such as the Desert Bettong, Nullarbor Dwarf Bettong and the Capricorn Rabbit-rat are part of the dozen now extinct.

The government considered changing the status of the Liverpool Plains Striped Bandicoot but after receiving feedback from experts the animal was again listed as extinct.

The Christmas Island Pipistrelle and the Christmas Island Forest Skink have also been added to the federal government's extinction list, years after the International Union for Conservation of Nature did so.

Wilderness Society spokeswoman Suzanne Milthorpe says the updated list is a devastating reality check.

"It cements our reputation as the global leader in mammal extinctions," she said.

"It's official - 34 mammal species have been lost from Australia and as these species are found nowhere else, we've also lost them from the planet and from all of time.

"There's not another country, rich or poor, that has anything like this record."

The federal government has not released its response to a review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, which found the laws were not fit for purpose.

The review, conducted by former competition watchdog chair Graeme Samuel, warned Australia's environment was on an unsustainable trajectory.

"We deeply hope that this latest warning from nature and scientists is one that will be acted upon," Ms Milthorpe said.

Labor's environment spokeswoman Terri Butler says the opposition does not want a future where koalas are only read about in history books.

"Australia is a global leader in mammal extinctions and instead of taking action this government is making things worse," she said.

The Morrison government has started trying to tinker with the environment laws, but has not developed tougher protection standards.

Ms Ley insists they are on the way.

The federal government is trying to shift its decision-making to the states and set up a national environmental assurance commissioner.

The commissioner - to be appointed by the governor-general - won't be able to look at specific environmental protection decisions or kick off legal challenges to them.

Instead, the role will focus on how effectively decisions are being made.

The government also wants there to be a "public interest" exemption to national environment standards, meaning projects could get the go-ahead purely on their deemed economic benefit.

Australian Associated Press