The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for the Environment
Major milestones reached in implementing the Coalition Government's One-Stop Shop reform
14 May 2014
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The Australian Government is delivering on its key election commitment to streamline environmental assessment and approval processes by removing duplication between the Australian Government and the states and territories.
In a major step forward for the One-Stop Shop reforms, the Government has released two draft bilateral agreements on environmental approvals with Queensland and New South Wales for public comment.
The One-Stop Shop reform is about simplifying the approvals process for businesses, while still maintaining strict environmental protections. This will help to grow the economy, reduce costs for business, boost productivity and create jobs.
Importantly, the One-Stop Shop reform will be achieved while maintaining the high environmental standards entrenched in national environment law.
The One-Stop Shop reform has the strong support of all state and territory governments. The bilateral agreements released for public comment today provide the structure for enabling the single approval process to be implemented.
To assist with the smooth implementation of this important reform, the EPBC Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014 has been introduced into Parliament.
Water resources are a matter of national environmental significance, in relation to coal seam gas and large coal mining development—usually referred to as the 'water trigger' - under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
Water resources will continue to be included in the EPBC Act as a matter of national environmental significance under the One-Stop Shop. There is no change to the environmental standards under the EPBC Act.
Under the current provisions of the EPBC Act, water trigger projects must go through two separate approval processes. This is different to how all other matters of national environmental significance are treated which can be accredited for approval at a state level.
In line with the One-Stop Shop policy, the Government is amending the EPBC Act to allow the Minister to accredit state and territory processes for approving projects involving the water trigger.
The Australian Government remains responsible for ensuring that the objectives of national environment law are met and environmental standards are maintained.
The amendments will also allow all states and territories to request advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee for Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development. This will ensure that the states and territories are able to access the best available scientific information.
Where state and territory processes meet the high standards set out in national environmental law, the Federal Government can accredit them under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Under the current Act, it is possible to accredit local councils, where they meet the definition and the other prerequisites for accreditation. In some cases, they will meet the definition. In others, they will not qualify.
The EPBC Act amendments deal with a technicality relating to how local councils or state agencies may be defined. It does not change the environmental standards that they are required to meet.
For further information see www.environment.gov.au/epbc/one-stop-shop