The Business Council of Australia has made a submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications Inquiry into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Retaining Federal Approval Powers) Bill 2012.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2012 would make it unlawful for the Commonwealth to accredit state government environmental approvals where they meet the Commonwealth’s environmental standards. In the submission the BCA opposes the Bill and urges the committee to recommend its withdrawal.
In particular, this BCA submission notes that:
- Bilateral agreements that accredit state government approvals have the potential to streamline environmental assessments, eliminate the costly double handling faced by major investors and to provide greater certainty and consistency at no cost to the environment.
Bilateral agreements have the potential to maintain or improve environmental standards by making these standards transparent and by clearly defining which level of government is accountable.
The potential for bilateral agreements to maintain or improve outcomes and reduce costs and delays to business was recognised by the independent review of the EPBC Act, which recommended they be used more in the future. This recommendation was endorsed by the government.
Reducing the delays and costs associated with the environmental approvals process is vital to the strength and resilience of Australia’s economy – Australia’s 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.