20/01/2017 - 15:44

Labor to keep ministerial control on projects

20/01/2017 - 15:44

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The Labor Party moved swiftly today to reassure the business sector that it would not hand over responsibility for project approvals to an independent tribunal, after reports it was considering such a change.

Ministerial approval for the Roe 8 project has attracted protests.

The Labor Party moved swiftly today to reassure the business sector that it would not hand over responsibility for project approvals to an independent tribunal, after reports it was considering such a change.

Shadow minister for mines and petroleum Bill Johnston said WA Labor would not go down the path of allowing environmental approvals to become subject to court-style decision making.

“Ministerial discretion is an essential element in Western Australia’s environmental approval procedures,” he said.

“Western Australia has a long and proud history of balancing jobs, development and the environment.

“There is no consensus around introducing court procedures to our environmental approvals process."

Mr Johnston’s comments were backed by Labor environment spokesman Chris Tallentire.

“Creating a court-style decision making process will add costs and lead to sub-optimal decisions,” Mr Tallentire said.

“Labor will not go down that path.

“Ministers are paid to make tough decisions that balance all the needs of the community – the triple bottom line. WA Labor is up for that.”

Mr Tallentire was quoted in The West Australian today as saying Labor may consider moving responsibility for approvals to the State Administrative Tribunal.

His comments follow controversy over minsiterial approvals for the Roe 8 roads project and the Yeelirrie uranium mine.

Mr Tallentire's suggestion drew immediate condemnation from business groups.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies chief executive Simon Bennison said today’s announcement was good news.

“While the speculation to refer environmental decisions to the SAT made in the media this morning was extremely concerning, it is positive to see that WA Labor responded quickly to AMEC’s concerns,” he said.

“We have just avoided yet another potential layer of red tape.”

“The ministerial decision making process already includes taking full advice from the independent EPA and appropriately applying relevant conditions.”

“It is important for industry that the Minister remain the final arbiter and balance the triple bottom line between environment, social and economic considerations,” Mr Bennison said.

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