The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
The Hon. Andrew Powell MP
Queensland Minister for the Environment & Heritage Protection
Topics: Memorandum of Understanding with Queensland, NSW Bushfires
Transcript: Doorstop Interview, Brisbane
18 October 2013
ANDREW POWELL: Well good morning ladies and gentlemen. It's a pleasure to welcome to a not so sunny Queensland, the Prime Minister and Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
A very exciting day for Queensland, a great day for Queenslanders, a great day for the Queensland environment and for jobs in this State.
What has been signed this morning by the Prime Minister and the Premier is the memorandum of understanding that Minister Hunt and myself developed recently in Canberra that commits to a process that delivers one high environmental hurdle that all proponents must adhere to but removes unnecessary duplication that allows us to get on with the job of delivering appropriate projects in this State of Queensland. Ah Minister Hunt.
GREG HUNT: Thanks very much Andrew. This is about high standards but removing duplication. So high standards, removing duplication and in particular allowing Queensland and then progressively other states to get on with the business of protecting the environment but creating jobs.
Australians don't want to be on the phone forever if they ring up a call centre and business shouldn't be on the phone for three years. They have a right to decisions, they have a right to have the ability to get on to invest if environmental standards of the highest order are met.
This is exactly what we said we would do pre-election, on exactly the time frame that we set out so it is a good start, now our task is to remove the duplication to allow jobs to be created and allow investment to occur against the highest standards.
JOURNALIST: Minister Powell, I can hear the greenies say this is open slather now.
ANDREW POWELL: Minister Hunt and I have been very clear that this is about agreeing on a high environmental standard, as I said one hurdle at an appropriate height that sets the benchmark for all project proponents to achieve.
These projects must demonstrate that they meet that hurdle, that they hit that environmental standard and all we are doing is removing unnecessary duplication that's cost to proponents, that's cost to government, that resources for proponents, resources for government, to ensure that we give certainty to those projects where the answer is yes or where the answer is no as soon as possible.
GREG HUNT: I will add one thing. The last two Labor Prime Ministers both said they wanted to achieve exactly this outcome. Neither did, we have.
JOURNALIST: Not open slather then?
GREG HUNT: No. This is about high standards, maintaining standards. None are being changed, but ensuring that instead of double handling, duplication, bureaucracy and green tape there is a rapid approach to making decisions.
JOURNALIST: A project in mind?
ANDREW POWELL: As Queenslanders would know there are a range of projects that in a number of cases actually even sat in the bottom drawer of the previous Federal Environment Minister's desk and were held up unnecessarily because of their incapability of making a decision.
We have certainly welcomed the moves of Minister Hunt to get on with making decisions around a range of projects whether that be in the Galilee Basin or to do with tourism opportunities on the Coast, to ensure that we meet those high environmental standards but deliver the projects necessary for Queensland's economy and jobs.
JOURNALIST: Excuse my ignorance, but is this essentially handing just the powers for environmental approvals just to the federal government or to the state or are they separate bodies?
GREG HUNT: What this does, it's an agreement to have a single assessment and in time approvals process co-ordinated by the State so we are maintain Federal standards but what we want the State to process as many applications as possible.
One set of standards, one high standard but one approvals process and one assessment process that's what we are working towards and wherever possible we want it to be the State.
JOURNALIST: A green MP in Victoria is speaking environmental policy with bush fire situation in New South Wales, what do you think of that?
GREG HUNT: There has been a terrible tragedy in New South Wales and no-one anywhere should seek to politicise any human tragedy let alone a bush fire of this scale. Alright, thank-you very much.
ANDREW POWELL: Thank-you.