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Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP
21 February 2002
Labor Senator Jan McLucas clearly believes that Queenslanders are dills and she's trying to pull the wool over their eyes.
This week she issued a press release demanding that I stop an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) being carried out into the impact of oil and gas exploration in the Townsville Trough, 50km off the Great Barrier Reef.
Senator McLucas knows full well that I cannot stop the EIA. I have no legal power to do so.
On the contrary, Senator McLucas knows that I cannot legally make any decision to allow or prevent any such exploration without an EIA to inform me of the likely impact of any such exploration.
Senator McLucas knows that the Commonwealth is legally obliged to issue guidelines for an EIA in these circumstances. She knows this is Media contact: an indication of the Commonwealth's support, or otherwise, for the project. She knows that this EIA is simply part of the process required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act which gives the Federal Environment Minister the powers to protect the environment.
The Act requires proponents of any project which may have a significant impact on a World Heritage area, such as the Great Barrier Reef off Townsville, to refer its proposal for assessment under the terms of the EPBC Act.
If the Commonwealth determines that the proposal may have a significant impact on world heritage values, then it must trigger an environmental assessment process.
To suggest, as Senator McLucas does, that this process implies support is nonsensical.
The most charitable interpretation of her behaviour is that she did not understand the legislation. If she needs a briefing to come to an understanding of it, I'll be happy to organise that for her.
Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400