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Keating report comment

THE Western Australian Government has supported 40 of the 56 recommendations of the Keating Review into the Project Development Approvals System with another 10 recommendations requiring further detailed examination before a decision was made.

However, the announcement of the Government’s position on the review has drawn mixed reactions from the community.

The Keating Review was part of the Government’s election promise to review the State’s project approvals system.

State Development Minister Clive Brown said the review was the first overarching examination of all project approvals processes in State and Federal legislation and its 56 recommendations affected 17 acts of Parliament and the operations of a range of Government departments and agencies.

A summary statement on the Government’s position on each of the recommendations can be found at www.doir.wa.gov.au

The Chamber of Minerals and Energy has welcomed the Government’s response to the review.

CME chief executive Tim Shanahan said the State’s $27 billion resources sector was looking for recommendations, particularly those relating to the timeliness of approvals and overlap and industry requirements for predictability and timeliness.

He said the chamber was pleased that Mr Brown had indicated his support for the majority of the recommendations and that the Government was focusing on resolving outstanding Native Title and heritage recommendations.

"The resources sector has been a key participant in the State sustainability consultation process and looks forward to working closely with the State in resolving policy issues prior to any implementation of sustainability recommendations – either from the Keating Review or the later State Sustainability Strategy," Mr Shanahan said.

He said the Keating Review was an important study, however, it was important that the supported recommendations be taken in context of other reviews that are still to be completed, such as Eyre MLA Jim Bowler’s Ministerial Review into Greenfields Exploration, the State Sustainability Strategy, the WA Greenhouse Strategy and a number of reviews into environmental policy.

Greens WA has threatened a backlash against the Government if it tried to reduce environmental protection under the guise of projects approvals reform.

Greens MLC Jim Scott said limiting public review was a common theme in the Gallop Government.

"The review of State planning processes failed to extend rights for the community to appeal decisions and now public environmental assessment was under attack from the Gallop Government," he said.

"Industry behaviour in WA has demonstrated that it needs more scrutiny, not less. The Gallop Government appears to be about to reward those irresponsible industries by curtailing environmental scrutiny and removing checks and balances."

The D’Entrecasteaux Coalition has also railed against suggestions that environmental protection may be reduced.

Coalition spokesman Geoff Evans said the Government had taken little heed of conservation groups’ submissions on the Keating Report last year.

He said the coalition was also concerned about the Government’s seeming intent to reduce local government rights and community participation in environmental reviews.

"Instead of using this opportunity to enshrine community and local government input and development community-industry cooperation, the Government is weakening environmental protection," Mr Evans said.

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