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Burke tries to have it both ways on the environment

Media Release
Larissa Waters 8 Feb 2013

In Senate Question time yesterday, the Government refused to rule out the Federal Government handing off its environmental protection responsibilities to the states, making today’s hearings of the Senate Inquiry into the Greens’ bill to keep the federal government involved crucial.

“It is disingenuous for Minister Burke to attack the NSW government on its coal seam gas credentials when his government won’t rule out handing off more environmental powers to that same government,” said Senator Waters, Australian Greens Senator for Queensland and spokesperson for the environment.

“After not progressing the plan to hand powers to the states at the December COAG meeting, but refusing to take it off the table, it’s time the government told the Australian public whether it still wants the job of protecting Australia’s environment.  Our nationally important environment deserves national environmental protection.

“If the handover were to go ahead, state premiers like Campbell Newman and Barry O’Farrell would have approval powers over development projects with significant impacts on nationally threatened species, internationally-recognised wetlands and World Heritage areas.

“What’s a disaster that would be – look at history: if states were in charge of the environment, there would be a dam on the Franklin River and oil rigs in the Great Barrier Reef.

“Minister Burke needs to decide what is more important: political posturing or protecting what’s too precious to lose.

“At the hearings into my bill today, Senators will hear from experts and the community about why states simply cannot be trusted with national environmental responsibility.

“They should listen to the evidence and pass my Bill to make the hand off powers to State governments unlawful.”

The hearings of the inquiry into Senator Waters’ bill, Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Retaining Federal Approval Powers) Bill 2012 are before the Senate Environment and Communications committee today at Parliament House in Committee Room 2S1.

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