“The Draft Framework of Standards for Accreditation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), released today, is an important step in ensuring development approvals under the Act provide the high level of protection needed for Australia’s unique environment and reduce the double handling in the current system," Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“The Business Council strongly supports the Commonwealth’s efforts through the release of the draft framework of standards to clarify the level of protection state approval systems will need to deliver to achieve accreditation under the national EPBC Act,” Ms Westacott said.
“Streamlining environmental assessments and approvals is all about eliminating the costly double handling faced by major investors and providing greater certainty and consistency. It is not about reducing the environmental protections which are important to protect our natural heritage.
“Reducing the delays and costs associated with the environmental approvals process is vital to the strength and resilience of Australia’s economy.
“Our economy, jobs, national income and government revenue is becoming increasingly reliant on major capital investment projects, so removing unnecessary delays to these investments is in interests of the whole community.
“Our regulatory system must protect the environment and facilitate important investment that meets the required standards, and this reform is a vital step towards achieving a more effective and efficient system of environmental protection.
“Bilateral agreements do not require the Commonwealth Government to change or alter any of their existing environmental legislation, regulations or environmental standards; or reduce their ability to assure the community that state governments are delivering the environmental outcomes the community expects.
“This reform will allow the Commonwealth to maintain is vital role in protecting matters of national environmental significance, while at the same time supporting our future productivity and prosperity by improving our capacity to deliver on the huge pipeline of investment projects.
“The current consultation processes between the states and the Commonwealth are an important step in ensuring efficient project approvals which maintain environmental standards.
“The BCA appreciates the opportunity to provide feedback on the standards as part of the consultation process and will do so after discussions with our members.”