Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Statement from Tony Burke

Media release
14 June 2012

Amendments to the bilateral agreement for environmental assessments between Queensland and the Commonwealth have been agreed to and signed off today.

The agreement signed by Deputy Premier Seeney, Environment Minister Andrew Powell and Commonwealth Environment Minister Tony Burke was signed in Brisbane today offering amendments to clarify the respective roles of the Queensland and the Commonwealth Government.

"It was clear during the dispute over the Alpha Coal project that the new Queensland Government had fundamentally different expectations of the agreement compared to the Commonwealth," Mr Burke said.

"These amendments clarify these roles and should make sure that the dispute we saw in recent weeks is not repeated.

"The amendments ensure that the terms of reference are agreed by both governments and the Commonwealth is able to make its requirements clear at different points in the process.

"This should create a situation where the Queensland Government is able to fulfil all the requirements of Commonwealth environmental law for the assessment process.

"If at any point the Queensland Government believes that the agreed requirements cannot be met then early written notification will be provided, seeking that the Commonwealth complete the work.

"This will give the Commonwealth a chance to get moving on any additional work rather than being forced to commence it at the very end of the process as happened with the Alpha project.

"It's always been the position of the Australian Government that we should streamline processes wherever we can but at no stage were we willing to countenance lower environmental standards.

"The amendments to the bilateral should achieve that exact balance."

The Australian Government has also accepted the offer from the Queensland Government to have a Commonwealth officer outposted within the Queensland process to make sure that any Commonwealth concerns can be made known immediately.