Today’s announcement by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke that he will “stop the clock” on the Alpha coal mine demonstrates the importance of strong federal environmental laws, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
“Minister Burke has made it abundantly clear that he has lost faith in the Queensland government’s ability to protect the Great Barrier Reef from destructive development,” said Pepe Clarke, NCC Chief Executive Officer.
“This dispute demonstrates the critical role of the federal government in upholding environmental assessment standards and protecting iconic natural areas.
“Right now, natural icons like the Pilliga Forest in New South Wales and the Tarkine wilderness in Tasmania are under threat from destructive mining and gas proposals.
“Minister Burke currently has the legal power to stop these developments, but big business and industry are pushing for those powers to be handed to the states.
“Handing federal approval powers to the states will set environmental protection in this country back by 30 years. From the Franklin River to the tropical rainforests of the Daintree, federal governments have played an essential role in safeguarding our unique environment.
“This is not the first time a federal government has been in dispute with a state government over environmentally destructive development, and it will not be the last.
“It is essential that the federal government abandons plans to transfer its environmental approval powers to the states, and takes measures to strengthen environmental laws, not weaken them,” said Mr Clarke.