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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Page: 1496

Senator WATERS (Queensland) (16:13): I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) only Australia's most precious places, species and ecosystems are protected by our national environment laws, namely the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act),

(ii) each year only a limited number of developments across Australia - projects that will significantly impact on these nationally protected places, species and ecosystems - need to seek approval under our national environment laws,

(iii) assessment bilateral agreements can streamline environmental assessment processes without compromising environmental protections, and

(iv) a recent inquiry by the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee looking at whether the Federal Government should be prevented from handing its EPBC Act approval powers to state governments found:

   (A) there was no compelling evidence to show how an approval agreement would improve business efficiency, and

   (B) that it is not appropriate for the states and territories to exercise decision making powers for approvals in relation to matters of national environmental significance; and

(b) calls on the Federal, state and territory governments of Australia to:

(i) ensure that final approval decisions for projects significantly impacting species, ecosystems and wilderness places protected under our national environment laws remain with the national environment minister, and

(ii) abandon any plans to progress approvals of bilateral agreements under the EPBC Act.

Question agreed to.