Water Week

EWN Publishing

Badly needed – an independent national level assessment process whereby Aus govt able to declare a project of national significance, says Tas Lib Senator Barnett; will help escape controversies and time lag

Posted by waterweek on 28 September 2007

A formalised, independent, objective assessment process for projects of national significance was needed just in line with the independent, objective assessment process for projects of state significance the states had, said Guy Barnett, Senator for Tasmania, Liberal Party of Australia, Commonwealth Senate, 18 September 2007.

COAG committed to reduce bottlenecks: According to Barnett, Council of Australian Governments (COAG) had done some work on this already. In the two meetings on 14 July 2006 and on 13 April 2007, COAG committed to reducing the regulatory burden across all three levels of government and to addressing the environmental assessment and approvals processes.

Harmonised enviro assessment process mooted: COAG agreed to develop a proposal in consultation with states and territories for a more harmonised and efficient system of environmental assessment and approval as soon as possible.

Promises to create thousands of jobs: COAG supported the work of the major project facilitator, and had already assisted 32 projects worth $41.7 billion and would deliver around 11,280 jobs if they proceeded as planned. The projects included the Visy Industries’ $450 million expansion of its Tumut pulp mill.

Needed – an efficient approval process: “So we need to go further, either with or without COAG support. The nation needs an approval process whereby the Australian government is able to declare a project of national significance so that, for projects of a certain size, such as the Gunns pulp mill, the approval process is undertaken independently and objectively within agreed time lines.

Will help dodge controversies: “I believe such a reform would go some way to avoiding the Wesley Vale and Tamar pulp mill controversies that have dogged my state over the last 20-odd years” Barnett said.

Reference: Guy Barnett, Senator for Tasmania, Liberal Party of Australia, Commonwealth Senate, 18 September 2007.

Erisk Net, 18/9/2007, p. 88

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