By Terri Butler MP

16 September 2020

Explosive revelations today show that the Morrison Government started drafting the bungled Abbott 2.0 environment bill rehash before their own independent interim review report was even delivered.

Scott Morrison has been caught out planning to ignore his own independent review, by one of Australia’s most experienced business regulators, from the very beginning. 
But we didn’t need today’s revelations to know that Scott Morrison always intended to ignore the most significant opportunity for durable reform to Australia’s environment laws in the last twenty years. 
To date, the Morrison Government has broken their promise on national environment standards, cherry-picked Professor Graeme Samuel’s interim report, gagged debate in the parliament, and then rammed the Abbott bill rehash through the House of Representatives.
Devolving power to the states without consistent strong national standards, without additional funding for the states, while adding massively to their workload, is a recipe for further job and investment delays during the worst recession in almost a century.

The bill, which is almost identical to Tony Abbott’s failed 2014 laws, excludes the foundational recommendations of Professor Graeme Samuel’s interim report.
This is despite Professor Samuel specifically warning the Morrison Government that Australians wouldn’t accept a rehashed Abbott bill without national environment standards. 
“In 2015 the Parliament did not support these amendments, in response to significant community concerns about the ability of states and territories to uphold the national interest when applying discretion in approval decisions.”

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said in July that the Government would introduce“strong rigorous environmental standards” that had “buy-in across the board” at the same time as introducing proposed legislative change.

This is a massive breach of trust with the Australian people.

The revelations come after the Liberals and Nationals cut funding to the environment department by 40% and a scathing Auditor General’s report found that job and investment approval delays on major projects, exploded by 510% on their watch.  

With 400,000 Australians expected to lose their jobs between now and Christmas this government is more interested in getting green tape headlines than taking the action their own review has recommended, to cut delays and create more certainty.
Our environment needs protection, business needs certainty and Australians need jobs. These changes fail on each count.