The Federal Government’s commitment to a “one stop shop” for environmental approvals could see lower standards for the Queensland environment including the Great Barrier Reef than other states.
Felicity Wishart, the Great Barrier Reef campaign director for the Australia Marine Conservation Society, said the EPBC “assessment bilaterals” set the rules on how states will assess projects likely to have an impact on the environment and it appears the Queensland version sets a lower level for protecting the environment than the sister agreement with NSW that has just been released.
“The NSW draft EPBC assessment bilateral includes an objective to ‘comply fully’ with international environmental obligations,” Ms Wishart said today.
“The Queensland draft agreement has omitted this objective.
“This begs the question – why is the Queensland Government unwilling to explicitly state in their agreement that they will adhere to Australia’s international obligations, including those to protect World Heritage Areas like the Great Barrier Reef?
“Australians and people all over the world are increasingly worried about Queensland’s willingness to protect the Great Barrier Reef from massive port expansions industrialising the Reef – this should send a shiver down their spine.
“The draft agreement between the Federal government and NSW also requires that actions do not have ‘unacceptable or unsustainable impacts on matters of national environment significance.
“Again, this is not expressly included in the Queensland Government’s draft agreement.
“The Federal Government has a responsibility to protect the Reef, not hand responsibility over to the Queensland Government who have been fast tracking mega-ports, gas hubs and dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters.
“The Great Barrier Reef deserves the toughest environmental standards. The contrasting weaker standards in the Queensland document compared to NSW, raises serious questions about the Queensland and Federal Government’s willingness to put the protection of the Reef first,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, November 26, 2013