Monday, 9 December 2013
Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2013; Consideration in Detail
We will support the amendment moved by the member for Melbourne. The minister is not correct to say that this was Labor policy. You are right that the delegation of approvals was the policy of Labor when we were in government. But it was something we explored through the COAG process and decided not to proceed with.
Let us be very clear: there is a very clear policy difference between the Labor Party and the coalition when it comes to environmental protection. This has been a long-standing pillar of environmental protection for 30 years. It is a little over 30 years since the High Court decided to uphold the then federal Labor government's decision to protect thousands of hectares of pristine Tasmanian forest from the damming of the Franklin and Gordon rivers. Since then, this has been a fundamental policy difference between the two major parties, and, as it was in the Franklin Dam case 30 years ago, it has often been a matter of some considerable controversy.
I want to put to bed this idea that we are not supportive of significant streamlining in environmental assessment processes. A one-stop shop at the end of the day really should be about streamlining and removing duplication in environmental assessments to make sure that there are not two environmental impact statement processes and that there are not two public consultation processes. We are all up for that discussion, but as a matter of principle there must in our view always be the capacity of the national environment minister to deal with matters of national environmental significance. For that reason, we support the amendment moved by the member for Melbourne.