ALP makes vague promise on environmental powers

THE protection of Australia's national parks could be increased under a re-elected Labor government plan to investigate greater environmental powers.

But Environment Minister Mark Butler did not go as far as promising to retain Commonwealth powers with the Federal Government.

Under a Coalition government, the powers which protect parks and other nationally significant environments will likely be handed to the states.

And while Labor previously promised the business lobby it would hand over the powers to state government, it reneged on the promise late last year.

Mr Butler said if Labor won Saturday's election, it would create a new expert advisory committee with business, environment and government representatives.

The committee would be tasked with reviewing such powers, or consider creating new laws to protect national parks.

While the announcement was backed by the Wilderness Society, national director Lyndon Schneiders said it was overdue.

He said the policy should have been considered earlier in the Rudd-Gillard governments, arguing the parks should have "the highest level of protection".