Rockingham media pick up on the debate that Colin Barnettt doesn’t want.
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America last week publicly announced their draft of the “American Clean Energy and Security Bill”
The Draft Bill is a great leap ahead in comparison to the much debated deeply flawed schemes which the Rudd-Wong collaboration has “laboured” to produce. more from Mark by clicking the blue links above
Click the above link for short interview. Phone numbers, SMS and email for talkback to follow.
From Perth’s Sunday Times ( supporting documents to be posted soon.)
More leaked documents add to drama
Narelle Towie, environment reporter
March 28, 2009 04:28pm
MORE leaked documents have cast doubt on statements made this week by the State Government about proposed changes to mining approvals.
Last weekend The Sunday Times reported that a government-appointed industry working group (IWG) – tasked with devising a plan to streamline and speed-up mining approvals – favoured moves to dilute the power and role of the Environment Minister among other far-reaching changes.
The next day the Minister for Mines and Petroleum Norman Moore stated that a leaked document referred to in the newspaper report was not produced by the IWG.
He said the document, marked confidential, was a submission to the IWG by industry associations.
He said it had not yet been properly considered by the IWG or the government.
The Sunday Times has ascertained that the document was the end product of a workshop involving key members of the WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA).
The workshop, which also included at least one IWG member, took place in January and the document has been the focus of much attention by the IWG.
Moreover, further leaked documents show recommendations in the confidential report have been adopted by the IWG – in some parts, word-for-word – and are at odds with the Minister’s statement.
– See both group’s recommendations
– See more recommendations
– See the lead agency model submitted to the industry working group
Up until yesterday Mr Moore and his media advisor were insisting there was “no draft report or draft recommendations.”
The Sunday Times has obtained a copy of the IWG’s “working draft report” dated March 6, which includes an executive summary and eight key recommendations.
The incomplete report proposes similar sweeping changes to how mining applications are processed, though no specific mention is made about the role of the Environment Minister.
Parts of the document’s recommendations appear to be copied almost verbatim from the workshop report the Minister insisted on Friday had not yet been “properly considered or endorsed” by the IGW.
A spokesman for Mr Moore yesterday confirmed the existence of the draft – after a week of denials. He said the Minister was relying on advice from the IWG.
IWG chairman Peter Jones said there are working drafts within the group but the Minister doesn’t know anything about them.
Shadow Environment Minister Sally Talbot last night hit-out: “Last week Minister Moore denied that this report existed and now we have had it confirmed.
“We have a real fear that there is going to be a watering down of the authority for the Minister for the Environment,” she said.
Ms Talbot is calling on the government to come clean on what plans are being put together by the industry working group.
Mr Moore, who is due to receive the IWG’s recommendations in May, said there were several hurdles to be surmounted before any recommendations were implemented.
They would first be considered by him and a cabinet sub-committee before full Cabinet. And any legislative amendments would need the approval of parliament.
Mr Moore said he was aware IWG were considering transferring large parts of the Department of Environment and Conservation’s role to the independent Environment Protection Agency, which is currently an advisory body.
“I’m not sure that that is a good thing if you want the approvals process to move quickly,” Mr Moore said.
Mr Moore said he could not guarantee that the powers and the responsibilities of the Minister of Environment, when dealing with approvals processes, will not be diminished at all by the reforms being considered.
“It is not within my power to provide cast-iron guarantees about issues of this nature. The granting or relinquishing of Ministerial power is a matter for Cabinet and Parliament. That said, the aim of this exercise is not to diminish the level of scrutiny applying to the environmental conditions related to mining approvals,” he said.
MLC member for mining and pastoral region Robin Chapple said the IWG’s intentions were quite clear.
“The community at large must be very seriously concerned that the environmental controls and parameters that have been established over the years are going to done away with,” he said.
Dracula in charge of the blood bank: WA Greens expose horror plan for the State Government’s assessment processes
A confidential document viewed by the WA Greens (attached here -> pdf ) has revealed radical plans to overhaul legislation so that the Premier would have sole power to decide which projects are allowed to go ahead in WA.
The proposal, developed by the Government’s hand-picked Industry Working Group committee, indicates that the Premier should become the decision-maker on every major project in the State.
Under the plan, the Premier would only be obliged to merely consult with the Environment Minister.
“If the recommendations of this report are accepted, then every mega-project Colin Barnett ever recklessly dreams up – be it a Kimberly Canal or a nuclear waste dump, or anything else – could go ahead,” Greens Upper House MP-elect Robin Chapple has warned.
“This document is truly horrific,” Mr Chapple continued.
“It is proposing that mining and petroleum activities be exempted from planning approval by local government.
“Now, I wonder how local government will feel about being dictated to by the Premier?
“Quite clearly, these recommendations mean massive legislative changes and the Government must be salivating as they wait to take control of the parliamentary Upper House on 22 May so they can ram through amendments to legislation.
“This Liberal minority government, aided by the National Party, seems intent on orchestrating the death of what remains of our state regulatory authorities.
“This proposal will enable the Premier to push through the Kimberly gas hub, the Gorgon development on Barrow Island, the Oakajee Port and ship lead out of any port of his choosing without a second thought.
“This will lead to unbridled excesses in climate change impacts from a government that just doesn’t get it.
“No wonder they have kept this secret until now, this plan is just like putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”
Robins Contact Details: Mobile 040 9379263, Work 08 93712615
– [page 3] “review mining tenement conditions for conservation reserves”. Do they mean they will review and possibly change the conditions that apply to mining in existing conservation reserves? If so that would seem to be an extraordinary legal situation; it would effectively gift to those mining companies an increase in the value of their privately owned property rights.
– [page 3] It’s alright to talk about EPA timelines but often the delays in the process are because of industry failures to properly address EPA questions / requests for more information. Also, any talk of timelines must make adequate allowance for the need for proper consideration if the matters are technically complex. Sometimes it will be hard for the EPA to have enough staff with expertise in the relevant area. Presumably this will be a real issue for uranium mining, at least in the short term.
‘Minor’ legislative changes [better described as major changes!]
– Removing an appeal right if the EPA decides something could be managed under the clearing provisions sounds good in theory, as the clearing decision will of course be subject to a separate appeal. But the first appeal right is about the EPA’s decision not to formally assess under Part IV, not about the issues that will later be dealt with under Part V. Removing an appeal right would effectively create a massive loophole in the EP Act; if the EPA wanted a project to sail through it could say that the clearing rules would manage it even if the project had impacts on say water quality or something else not related to the proposed clearing. Such a decision would have the effect of quarantining those non-clearing issues from any further public scrutiny, save the possibility of judicial review, and we know how hard that road is!
– Removing appeal rights against the setting of a level of assessment would be an outrage and a fundamental shift in the EIA regime that has served the State for over 20 years. There are few things more important than the level of assessment, as that scoping decision determines the process from then on.
– [page 5] new approvals framework for [ESE] could of course be good in theory but not if it means economics winning out in a Premier-led process that involves no appeal rights!
– [page 6] one decision maker; well, not if the decision relates to issues beyond the expertise of the decision-maker.
– [page 6] proportionality based on… importance to the State. This could be very dangerous; are they saying bigger projects should attract less environmental scrutiny? This would be an unprecedented and very dangerous move.
– [page 6] special consideration for major projects – ditto.
– [page 8] melding works approvals and clearing permits into mining approvals; currently two quite separate technical issues for different departments!!
– [page 8] exempting mining and petroleum activities from planning approval; It will be interesting to see what WALGA and the local govts think about this!!
– [page 8] appeals to SAT; not necessarily a problem with Part V decisions but this takes Part IV appeals out of the hands of the Env Min and into the rarefied apolitical air of a Tribunal. Do they propose to resource the SAT with environmental specialists who aren’t all just former industry representatives?!
– [page 9] Premier obliged only to consult with the Minister for Environment on major projects!!
– [page 10] Applicants can appeal against the conditions of approval but what about the decision to approve? I.e. can the SAT only ever change the conditions of approval but not say no to something? If so that would be an absolutely fundamental negative change!!
– [page 11] appeals to SAT only for “significant activities”; this could mean a significant constraint on appeal rights!!
– [page 11] timelines; do these factor in SAT appeals? We hope not!!
– [page 12] approvals reform group; notice no community representation!
Industry Working Group Committee (Hansard Wednesday, 26 November 2008)
· Peter Jones (chair) (Water Corp Chair 2002) (former resources Minister for Mines, Fuel and Energy for Western Australia to the Sir Charles Court government) (Peter Vernon Jones elected 30/03/1974 Narrogin for NCP became a Liberal in 1985)
· John Bowler (deputy chair) (Kalgoorlie member and former Labor mines minister)
· Derek Carew Hopkins (Department of Environment director general) (former Appeals Convenor) (adviser, Office of the Minister for Regional Development)
· Mark Gregory (Special Counsel to Minter Ellison, his practice has focused on the land access needs of his clients. This includes advising clients on complex government approvals processes; assisting clients to obtain necessary land tenure and mining tenements and dealing with compulsory acquisition matters.)
· David Parker (former Chamber of Minerals and Energy director) (government and public affairs manager, Apache Energy)
· Richard Ellis (Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s WA director) (also in 2004 Colin Barnett’s former chief of staff was called Richard Ellis, may or may not be the same)
· Ian Wight-Pickin (former or current Secretary of the Dawesville Branch of the Liberal Party) (chief of staff, office of the Deputy Premier and Minister for Indigenous Affairs)
· Ian Fletcher (former adviser to the Pangea Nuclear Waste Dump company), (former CEO of the Kalgoorlie/Boulder Town Council), (Premier Richard Court’s principal advisor), (Vice-president of government relations in WA for BHP Billiton)
· Tim Shanahan (Minerals Initiative director and former Chamber of Minerals and Energy) (director, Energy and Minerals Initiative, University of Western Australia)
· Chris Clegg (principal consultant, Statewide Tenement and Advisory Services)
· Doug Koontz (was on the DME Minerals Environment Liaison Committee in 2000 representing the Minerals Industry) (currently chair of the Environment & Water Policy Committee for AMEC and a councillor on the AMEC executive council) (principal environmental consultant Aquaterra Consulting an international water and environment consultancy, operating with offices in Australia, UK, Ireland and Mongolia)
· Noel Ashcroft (former Executive Director, Major Projects, Department of Mineral and Petroleum Resources, heavily involved in the development of the Burrup as an industrial hub) (chief executive of government relations and market development for the Griffin Group)
· Tony van Merwyk, (partner in Freehills)
Greens Member Elect
for the Mining & Pastoral Region