The results of today’s Business Advisory Forum spell disaster for Australia’s environment and community participation in land-use planning, with the Prime Minister giving the big end of town everything it wanted, said the Greens tonight.
“Today’s communiqué is wall-to-wall bad news for the environment, with the federal government agreeing to reduce its own role in protecting the environment by accrediting state approval processes for everything bar World Heritage and yet-to-be-defined ‘high risk’ projects,” said Greens spokesperson for mining and for the environment, Senator Larissa Waters.
“This will mean the federal government would not even have a role in protecting our nationally important environmental assets.
“The Prime Minister confused matters somewhat by saying that the federal government would still have a role to play for nuclear actions and in Commonwealth waters, but what of threatened and migratory species, national heritage places and the Great Barrier Reef?
“All the big environmental wins of recent history have been when the federal government stepped in to protect an area from development the state government had approved, so how can the community trust the states to look after the environment when it has sole control?
“Another implication of the feds washing their hands of environmental responsibility is a reduction in community review rights before the courts. Mining companies will be running the country, not the people or their elected national representatives.
“The communiqué claims that streamlining regulation will lift productivity growth, but a recent report by The Australia Institute found declining productivity in the mining sector was not caused by regulation but by the high dollar driving exploitation of lower quality resources which meant lower productivity per unit of mineral output.
“That is, the mining industry’s own greed is driving low productivity, and reducing environmental protections will only fuel this downward trend, as big business hastens to destroy our natural environment for short term private profits that will mostly flow offshore.”