The Australian Greens welcome the first public hearings of the Greens initiated Senate inquiry into environmental offsets, in Sydney this morning.
"There's a lot of community and scientific interest in this inquiry, with many Australians outraged that environmental offsets are being used as a tick and flick for destructive developments," Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.
"We've seen Whitehaven get away with clearing endangered box gum for their Maules Creek coal mine by buying a patch of land that's almost completely different vegetation.
"The Abbot Point coal port was approved with the Environment Minister telling us all the damage will be offset, while internal documents from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority found that would be impossible.
"And Clive Palmer's company is being allowed to destroy the Bimblebox Nature Refuge for a massive coal mine, in exchange for purporting to protect other vegetation that hasn't even been identified.
"There's often no political will and environment departments are so under-resourced that enforcement and monitoring of offsets falls by the way side.
"One of the other major problems is that the government rarely ground truths before approving offsets so we're left to rely on the proponent's word.
"This inquiry is an important opportunity for the Senate to get expert and community input on whether offsets can even deliver the promised benefits or whether they're being used as a smokescreen to allow irreparable damage.
"This inquiry will expose whether these magic pudding calculations are being performed for the big mining companies at the expense of the environment," Senator Waters said.