Martin Ferguson and David Bradbury's Productivity Commission inquiry into non-financial barriers to mining announced today is yet another effort by the Labor Government to undermine protections for people and nature in the quest for bigger and faster mining profits, the Australian Greens said today.
"Labor is getting ready to hand over its environmental powers to state governments who want to mine, graze and shoot in national parks, and now it is launching a new inquiry into getting rid of more barriers to the mining industry," Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.
The complete absence of environmental considerations, social concerns, community cohesion, indigenous heritage from the terms of reference of this inquiry highlights the central argument of Senator Milne's speech to the National Press Club - that neither of the old parties understands that the economy is a tool to serve the needs of people and nature for the long term, not the other way around.
"Why does Martin Ferguson still think it is more important to support the parts of our economy that dig things up, cut them down and ship them overseas than to care for people, protect the environment which sustains us, and invest in creating a smart, diverse economy?
"Rather than facilitating miners what the Government should be doing is protecting agricultural land and water and facilitating young farmers to get on the land as food will be the oil of this century.
"Labor doesn't understand that the world is moving on. The World Economic Forum recognises we must decouple economic growth from resource depletion and pollution. The International Energy Agency is working with the UNFCCC, recognising that the global economic system is driving the planet towards catastrophic global warming.
"We are already on the brink of devastating changes to our climate because of our unmitigated exploitation of fossil fuels. We have seen the destruction reaped on our environment from open cut mines; we have seen prices soar in mining towns, putting pressure on lower income households; we have seen the stress put on families from Fly In Fly Out work; we have seen indigenous land exploited and mistreated.
"With such pressing problems that flow on from mining operations, how could Labor push for yet more deregulation and open an inquiry that expressly ignores these issues?
"Sadly it shows that once again, Labor cannot be trusted on the environment, or on caring for people for the long term.
"Have an inquiry into mining, but put people and nature at the forefront of your thinking"