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rolling back green tape « Previous | |Next »
December 6, 2012

Big Business wanted to roll back green tape (a single track approval process to avoid duplication) by getting the Federal Government to hand over its regulatory powers to the states for major projects. This would see a return to a highly decentralised system of environmental management in Australia.

What Big Business has in mind is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which provides the legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places.

Basically the states cannot be trusted because they have a history of putting development above environmental protection. You can see that in Queensland with the Traveston Crossing Dam in 2009 and Rinehart's $6.4 billion Alpha coalmine in the Galilee Basin; in Victoria with cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park; in Western Australia with James Price Point; in NSW the blanket approval for coal seam gas ; and in Tasmania with the Gunns pulp mill near the vineyards and wineries in the Tamar valley.

In these cases Commonwealth approval, has been and is, a necessary check and balance to avoid a conflict of interest. This has been very clear with the over allocation of water licenses by the states in the Murray-Darling Basin. It has required the Commonwealth to ensure that there is a reform movement through the process of co-operative federalism.

It is the case that the federal government has entered agreements which allowed states to undertake environmental impact assessment for the purposes of the EPBC Act. But to date the federal government has retained the power to make the final decision on whether or not to approve a development that could affect a matter of national environmental significance.

The EPBC Act is in need of some reform to better protect our national natural heritage--as argued by the Hawke Review and the federal government can do a much better good job of protecting our natural environment, But devolving Commonwealth approval responsibilities to the states is unlikely to ensure that protection as the conservative state governments dismantling environmental protections established over the past 30 years to facilitate development.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:59 AM | | Comments (4)


"You can see that in Queensland with the Traveston Crossing Dam and Rinehart's $6.4 billion Alpha coalmine in the Galilee Basin;"

Queensland Premier, Cando Newman, recently attacked on the Federal Environment Minister for allegedly delaying Gina Rinehart’s Alpha Coal Mine. The Premier told the Minister to “get out of the way” of projects in his state.

The states (Queensland, NSW, Victoria) are rolling back coastal management policies, and legislation and benchmarks for for sea level rise to allow greater coastal development.

Big Business is angry that Gillard has put on hold plans to give the states power to deal with environmental approvals for major projects.

What Gillard couldn't get from the states was a consistent approach that met proper environmental standards. What was offered was a patchwork of arrangements and a threat to current standards of environmental protection.

The response of Big Business was predictable--the Gillard Govt had caved into the Greens and environmental groups.

The states could not even agree on simpler and smarter regulations to streamline processes.