We welcome the Morrison government’s comprehensive pathway to reform national environmental regulation, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“Today the Minister has released a roadmap that demonstrates the government’s commitment to meaningful reform.
“Review after review has told us that the EPBC Act needed to be overhauled.
“Reform is long overdue, so we can’t afford to miss this once in a decade opportunity.
“We now need to get on with the reform process, pass the legislation before the parliament and realise that protecting the environment and major project approvals are not mutually exclusive.
“The parliament has two choices. They can continue to allow a muddled, confused system that is not helping the environment or the economy, or they can take the first step to improve the environment and create more jobs in regional Australia.
“Lifting environmental standards and creating new jobs is a win-win.
“We have a genuine opportunity to improve the efficiency of decision-making while addressing the deteriorating state of Australia's environmental assets.
“This new way forward will replace an outdated handbrake on investment which also wasn’t working to protect Australia’s natural environment.
“The Bills currently before the Parliament are a starting point for this journey and represent the staged, phased process endorsed by Prof Samuel’s review.
“They will remove duplication and establish a new independent Environment Assurance Commissioner to provide confidence and transparency in decision making.
“We encourage the Parliament to support the passage of these Bills as soon as possible.
“We know the interim standards in the legislation are only a starting point. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to enhance these.
“We also welcome the government’s commitment to develop regional plans and strategic assessments to accelerate approvals and provide clear rules for development.
“We have to avoid a stop-start approach to reform so we will need to continue to build on the unprecedented co-operation we’ve achieved with industry and environmental groups throughout this process.’’