"Green tape" cuts save time and money, says Minister
ENVIRONMENT Minister Andrew Powell has defended "green tape" cuts by the Newman Government saying the strategy was designed to bring focus to higher-risk activity rather than the over-regulation of low-risk operators like motor vehicle workshops and cabinet makers.
Mr Powell, the Member for Glass House, said the move would remove duplication of process and allow business owners to save time and money.
It would also ensure the resources of his Department of Environment and Heritage Protection were used to more effectively to assess and monitor high-risk activities and industry.
Mr Powell said coal seam gas approvals referred to in an ABC Four Corners report on Monday night had been given by the previous Bligh Government.
A spokesperson said they were currently the subject of a CMC investigation and as such the minister would not comment on the issues.
Mr Powell failed to respond to questions about whether he had sought advice as to why no baseline studies were provided as part of the approval process for the $18bn Santos and $20bn QGC gas developments.
Nor would he comment on allegations from Department of Infrastructure and Planning whistleblower Simone Marsh that staff were given only four weeks to assess 10,000 pages of documents.
An industry spokesman told the program he was sure the right processes had been followed and that proper checks and balances were in place.
The Gillard government with the insistence of Independent Tony Windsor last month amended federal environment laws to cover has a matter of interest the potential cumulative impacts on water of new wells and mines.
While that may take final approvals out of the hands of state governments, Wide Bay Burnett Environment Council president Roger Currie said a loophole remained.
"The recent amendments to the new trigger under the EPBC Act 1999 will now mean that gas companies seeking to tap into the CSG of the Mary Basin Coal deposits will need to prove that their operations will not significantly impact water resources, something which the Bligh government completely ignored," he said.
Mr Currie said the new danger for the Mary catchment was the likelihood of shale gas, which had not been included in the amendment, being targeted.
"This means that any projects in the Mary Basin shale gas deposits , which are named as state significance projects, will be decided by the Coordinator General's department which ABC's Four Corners program has just highlighted as being allegedly controlled by the industry,'' he said.
Mr Currie said if the Newman Government was serious about protecting the water resource of the Mary Valley it would introduce "green tape" with the clout to convince the community that assessment was transparent and thorough.