Red and green tape holding WA back

June 7, 2024 12:00 PM
Libby Mettam
WA Liberal Leader

Western Australia is at a crossroads.

Despite our wealth of natural resources, WA is no longer a State where development is encouraged, supported or nurtured.

The costs and time associated with doing business have skyrocketed after seven years of Labor inaction.

Burdensome approvals processes are threatening the very industries our State’s prosperity was built on.

According to the WA Chamber of Commerce, $318 billion of known investments in major projects is languishing, awaiting environmental approvals.

These delays are killing jobs and killing investment at a time when WA’s resources sector has the potential to play a role in the global energy transition.

Despite the Cook Labor Government’s commitment to “declare war on green tape” it’s clear Labor is paralysed by an ideology fundamentally opposed to supporting our resources industry.

They’ve neglected the environmental approvals system, and they’re not serious about reforming it.

Despite commissioning an independent review into environmental approvals processes last year, they’ve only acted on a handful of recommendations.

Labor has implemented just seven of 39 recommendations.

And those recommendations only established a new office in the Perth CBD, and a new cross-departmental working group.

The Premier might think it makes great headlines, but it’s not the kind of stuff that gets dirt moving quickly.

WA deserves a better future.

One filled with endless opportunities for growth, backed by the strongest industries in the nation.

We must act now to tear down the barriers preventing billions of dollars of projects going ahead, because if we miss this opportunity who knows when, if ever, the chance will come again.

Peter Dutton’s recent commitment to halving environmental approval time frames, and to handing decision making power back to the States is welcome news for WA. But it will mean little with Labor tying up projects in excessive green tape.

With my Federal Liberal colleagues, the WA Liberals will position our State to benefit from the growth in demand for critical minerals and the energy transition.

This will be a priority from day one for my Government.

That’s why I was pleased to announce yesterday that we will streamline the environmental approvals process to get the State Government out of the way, and let industry do what it does best: innovate for the future and create jobs, while ensuring we maintain world-class standards to protect our environment Unlike Roger Cook, I am committed to making the tough decisions.

My Government will be relentless in creating a business environment which enables WA to benefit from the critical minerals boom and preserve our rich natural environment.

A Liberal State government will amend the Environmental Protection Act. We will introduce strict conditions on the use of stop-the-clock provisions.

We will enable parallel approvals to reduce unnecessary delays.

We will remove appeals on decisions not to assess a proposal and define who can appeal, so we can manage and exclude unnecessary, repetitive and vexatious appeals.

This will stop projects being tied up in litigation after it has already been approved by the EPA.

We will move most appeals to the State Administrative Tribunal.

This will ensure the appeals convenor can focus on matters of the greatest economic significance to the State while letting the State Administrative Tribunal deal with administrative matters, which it is designed to do.

A Liberal government will abolish Labor’s social surrounds policy and replace it with a statement of compliance.

This will provide proponents the opportunity to demonstrate they already meet regulatory requirements in areas like Aboriginal heritage, local government, other planning laws and — importantly — climate policies covered by Federal legislation.

It will eliminate the duplication which has frustrated industry and will ensure the EPA is focused on its core business of environmental protection.

We will stop funding the Environmental Defenders Office. It is ludicrous that taxpayers’ money is propping up activists trying to stop the development of our resources sector.

We will empower the Economic Regulation Authority — WA’s own productivity commission — which has languished under Labor, increasing transparency around government policy and decision making with independent economic reviews.

This Liberal plan will drive innovation, economic prosperity and environmental stewardship, while laying the groundwork for a vibrant and sustainable future for our State and its residents.

Earlier this year, I announced a government I lead will lift the ban on uranium mining.

The world is in transition and WA has an enormous opportunity to contribute to the global uranium market, particularly amid changes to the geopolitical landscape.

Embracing uranium mining in WA aligns with our commitment to a sustainable and low-carbon future, helping other countries meet their global emissions targets.

Similarly, our approach to energy can’t be driven by ideology. It must be sustainable and pragmatic, so we can meet the energy demands of our growing population and industry while meeting our 2050 emissions targets.

Renewables and storage are the future of energy generation, and WA cannot afford an “either, or” approach.

We need a “both, and” approach to energy policy.

We are undoubtedly at a crossroads here in WA and the pathways we lay out now will define our future for generations to come.

A Liberal government will create an environment in which long term investment decisions can be made, underpinned by reliable, affordable energy.

We will streamline the approvals process, so government can get out of the way and let industry do what industry does best: innovate for the future and create jobs.

We will continue to see challenges as opportunities to unlock new markets and forge prosperity for future generations of West Australians.

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