THE Greens will introduce legislation to protect national parks from state government-backed grazing and logging in the Senate on Monday.
The party will move to list national parks as areas of national environmental significance, giving them the same protection as threatened species and World Heritage Areas.
"Australians would be surprised and alarmed to learn that our national parks are not protected federally and there is nothing to stop state and territory leaders from destroying these precious places," Greens leader Christine Milne said.
"National parks account for less than 4 per cent of Australia's land mass, yet the state and territory governments are intent on destroying these areas with grazing in Queensland, shooting in NSW and logging in Tasmania."
The proposed legislation follows calls by senior Labor figures for the Gillard government to intervene and protect national parks from state government projects.
Four ALP stalwarts – ex-premiers Joan Kirner and Carmen Lawrence, former NSW environment minister Bob Debus and former Queensland environment minister Rod Welford – have called on the Commonwealth to give itself powers to stop environmentally damaging projects in national parks.
The group said Labor had a proud record of creating national parks that needed to be protected.
"Labor must take the current opportunity to strengthen the national environment laws," they said in a joint statement.
Australian Greens environment spokeswoman Larissa Waters urged the government to support the Greens' proposed amendment, which would protect national parks through legislation rather than regulation.
While Environment Minister Tony Burke had the power to introduce regulation to protect national parks, Senator Waters said the Coalition would likely disallow it in Parliament if it won the next election.
Regulations can be disallowed by a majority of either house of Parliament and must be put forward for 15 sitting days. The current Parliament has only 10 sitting days left.
"If the polls for the next election eventuate, Labor won't have the numbers to stop the Coalition disallowing any regulation," Senator Waters said.
"This is a choice between good policy or politics, and I hope [the government] choose the route that protects national parks."
It is believed the federal cabinet will consider on Monday what action to take, if any, to increase the government's control of parks.