Red Herrings on Green Tape
Conservation groups today called on the Federal Government to remove from federal law, once and for all, any possibility of environmental approval powers being handed to the states.
The call follows a recent Senate inquiry at which business groups were clearly unable to provide any evidence that handing over environmental approval powers to the states would result in faster or more streamlined development.
“Despite ample opportunity, the business sector has yet again failed to provide any sound evidence that environmental laws are inefficient to begin with,” said Charles Berger of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“What we have consistently argued is that handing over approval powers to the states and territories would not improve efficiency, but would definitely diminish environmental protection.”
“Submissions to this latest Inquiry by lobby groups such as the Minerals Council and Business Council, just don’t hold up to any scrutiny,” said Ghislaine Llewellyn, Conservation Director at WWF-Australia.
“The Australian community is no closer to understanding how the handing of environmental powers to the states and territories would speed up business.”
History shows state governments cannot be trusted to assess developments in the national and international interest, and are often proponents of the very projects that result in the Federal Government stepping in.
“Without federal oversight the Great Barrier Reef would be littered with oil rigs, the Franklin River would be dammed and Fraser Island would be a sand mine,” said Michael Kennedy, Director of Humane Society International.
“There is no evidence that giving state government the final say on environmental approvals would result in reduced costs to business if environmental standards are to be maintained,” says Samantha Vine of BirdLife Australia.
Recent polling by Lonergan Research found 85 per cent of Australians believe the Federal Government should be able to block or make changes to major projects that could damage the environment.
More than 35 organisations are part of the Places You Love alliance, which works for stronger environmental laws. More than 10,000 people wrote to the Prime Minister at the end of 2012 and two weeks ago more than 6,400 people sent the PM a Valentine’s Day message calling on her to protect the laws that protect the places they love.