By Terri Butler MP

02 October 2020

EPBC reform is a test for the Morrison government despite Ben Morton’s attempt to pretend otherwise.

The Liberals and Nationals have very favourable conditions for reform.

They are in majority government, and they have broad buy-in from industry, business, conservationists and others.

They also have a constructive Opposition willing to consider a serious proposal, consistent with the Samuel Review, if one is ever put forward.

The Liberals and Nationals are squandering this opportunity by reanimating the corpse of a failed Abbott era bill that does not reflect Prof Samuel’s interim report.

In one of the very few speeches before the government gagged debate on their Abbott 2.0 bill, I set out Labor’s approach to reform.

But, among other shortcomings, we still haven’t seen proposed national environmental standards or any proposal for compliance and enforcement.

Instead of pointing fingers Mr Morton should ask himself why, despite all their advantages, the government has been spectacularly unable to propose a bill that could be supported.

He should also reflect on the harm that his government’s massive funding cuts over their seven years in office have caused to decision-making under the EPBC Act.

If he needs a refresher on this the recent audit office report lays it all bare: delays to jobs and investment exploding by 510%, 79% of decisions affected by error or otherwise non-compliant, and 95% of key decisions made late in 2018-19.