Senate debates

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Questions without Notice

Environmental Laws

2:15 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Trade) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Hanson-Young for her question, although I do reject many of the claims she has made in that question. What our government takes pride in doing is upholding environmental laws but making sure that we don't strangle economic activity in a morass of green tape and indecision and lack of progress in terms of analysing and assessing the applications that come before us. So, our government—the Minister for the Environment—has worked hard to make sure that decision-making is more efficient and effective. That's something that should be applauded around this place. Rather than having projects sitting there waiting, not knowing whether they're approved or not approved, we are actually backing them to get through the pipeline. Where conditions need to be applied, they're applied. Where they need to be rejected, they're rejected.

What the Prime Minister announced yesterday was a $25 million investment in specialist project teams, new approaches to information sharing between the Commonwealth and the states to reduce backlogs, to reduce the time taken for assessments, to make sure that there is less duplication of assessments between the Commonwealth and the states. This is simply about making our environmental regulation more efficient and more effective so that it can serve its purpose of protecting our environment and our biodiversity and our conservation needs but it doesn't strangle economic development, particularly at a point of time in our nation when we want to make sure that those investments that can go ahead do go ahead. We want to make sure that, when those who are willing to put money on the table and to make projects happen that will generate jobs for Australians, that goes ahead wherever possible, wherever it is not in breach of our environmental laws—not that it sits somewhere in the backdrop for years just waiting for somebody to make a decision. We're not afraid to make decisions, but we will make sure we make the right decisions for our environment and for the jobs of Australians.


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