CSG, nat parks grazing on the agenda

17 Jun, 2013 11:00 AM
Environment Minister Tony Burke has also flagged extending federal environmental oversight to national parks.
Environment Minister Tony Burke has also flagged extending federal environmental oversight to national parks.

THE federal government is considering imposing tougher environmental rules over national parks and shale gas and coal-seam gas projects.

Federal cabinet considered on Monday the Greens' amendments to national environment laws to give ­landholders a right of veto over gas projects and prevent a future Coalition government from delegating federal approval powers to states.

Environment Minister Tony Burke has also flagged extending federal environmental oversight to national parks.

The moves have sparked a rearguard action by the Business Council of ­Australia and the gas industry to ­prevent the measures going ahead.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) chief ­executive David Byers said the Greens' amendments were bad policy.

He urged the government to reject the amendments and said to accept such changes "sacrificed any semblance of economic policy on the altar of [the] Greens' political preferences".

Business Council of Australia (BCA) chief executive Jennifer Westacott said she had written to cabinet members ­urging them to adhere to "proper law-making process".

"The government would be taking this action without any consultation or any analysis of the impact of these amendments on the economy, on regional communities or, for that ­matter, on the environment," she said.

On Sunday, Mr Burke suggested he would change federal law to stop ­certain activities in national parks.

"Reintroducing logging, mining, grazing, forestry or large-scale land clearing is a clear backwards step," he said.

"I believe the recent reversal from John Howard's approach to what State and federal Liberals are now doing is appalling vandalism and wrong."

NSW independent Tony Windsor, who wants to ensure the passage before the election of a "water trigger" for coal-seam gas, opposes more changes.

He said further changes would need to return to the House ­of Representatives.

"I'd hate to see it blow up, because of some game playing, legitimate as those concerns may be," he said.

Greens senator Larissa Waters has indicated she will move changes to include national parks as a matter of "national environmental significance" and prevent delegation of federal approval powers to states.

"If Labor doesn't want to Abbott-proof the legislation, I struggle to work out what's going on in their head."

Mr Burke said there were various views about "when the federal government should intervene and what the legal framework should be".

In a recent draft report, the Productivity Commission said restrictions on access to national parks should be "proportionate" to the likely level of impact on environmental and heritage values.

The BCA said the government should wait for the final Productivity Commission report.

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17/06/2013 12:50:17 PM

Give the Greens an inch and they will take a mile ... first the Bill was about a water trigger to stop CSG mining ... now it is about 'Abbott-proofing' national parks what next - intensive farming? ... as long as the Greens want to remain politically active they need conflict ... by moving more green tape clauses they will ensure they can have hundreds of years of manufactured conflict ... on this Bill it is very much buyer beware ... I hope those farmers leading the anti-CSG brigade who have now hopped into bed with Windsor and the Greens know exactly what they are getting us all into.
17/06/2013 1:20:45 PM

I agree with Bill. The Greens plus Windsor & Oakeshott = more economic disaster for Australians.
17/06/2013 1:36:07 PM

Buuuuurrrrrrkkkkkkkeee! Your own electorate is a environmental basket case due to aircraft noise, heavy freight rail and truck noise a polluted Cooks River! You therefore have no right to comment on Environmental matters!
17/06/2013 1:43:00 PM

Ahhh the Greens, the anti everything except wind farms, solar panels, gay marriage, open borders and rainbow coloured pedestrian crossings party!
Jenny Stirling
18/06/2013 4:26:39 PM

These policy ammendments are there to protect the graziers and the land from the predations of mining companies operating in the context of an LNP state government which does not care a fig about protecting any rights other than miners rights. CSG is an accident waiting to happen in places where water is at a premium, especially in NQ which is in the middle of a nasty drought. How can the mining companies be allowed to place their short term agendas ahead of food and water security? CSG is is not a sustainable industry and the methane leakage issue makes the whole operation more questionable.
18/06/2013 4:29:03 PM

Ripping the place up and selling it is not an economic policy it is a short term frenzy to maintain false economic growth in the face of global shortages. The Greens are the only party with any idea of the future.
18/06/2013 5:15:29 PM

As a landowner, I'd very much like to have the right to prevent mining companies from destroying my property, and the Greens seem to be the only party trying to make it happen. So good on them and I hope this bill succeeds.
Joy R
18/06/2013 5:31:09 PM

Those 'farmers who have...hopped into bed with Winsdor and the Greens' have a great deal more common sense that the above respondents. CSG and coal mining threaten food and water security throughout Australia. Please get your head out of the sand and start thinking about the future instead of short term gains.
Colin Hunt
18/06/2013 6:01:33 PM

If the nation owns national parks they should not be able to be appropriated by private interests. Likewise privately owned property should not be liable to entry and destruction by mining and coal seam gas companies.
David K
18/06/2013 6:05:38 PM

It is the Greens that think longer than 3 year terms. It is always the vested interests that accuse the Greens of wrecking the economy. But environmental protecton will help the economy in the long term. Tony Burke who blows hot and cold on environment protection needs to stand up to the State Government before they wreck the place. What is proposed under Newman will only get worse under Abbott. Hence we need the Greens in the Upper House to get the balance right. They have no personal financial interest unlike the resources sector who claim the proposed safeguards will wreck the economy.
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