Problem delaying thousands of jobs

 

THOUSANDS of jobs have been delayed by blowouts in Federal Government green tape approvals by 510 per cent, with some projects held up by almost four months.

The claim is based on Opposition analysis of a scathing audit office review and comes shortly ahead of the release of a review into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act.

The analysis shows that just five per cent of decisions under the EPBC Act were made on time.

The other 95 per cent saw a blowout in approvals delays beyond the deadline from 19 days to 114.

Opposition environment spokeswoman Terri Butler said the delays hit the government’s credibility. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Opposition environment spokeswoman Terri Butler said the delays hit the government’s credibility. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

One north Queensland project faced delays of more than 1800 days.

Opposition environment spokeswoman Terri Butler said it was a major delay in jobs for projects across the state and country and hit the government's credibility in the resources sector.

But the government says the data fails to take into account the increasing politicisation and complexity of approvals.

In 2014 60 per cent of approvals were done within the statutory time frames, which vary depending on the project, but were on average just 19 days overdue when late.

But by 2018-19 this had plummeted to just five per cent of decisions done on time, and an average of 116 days overdue when late.

It had begun to improve again, rising back to 30 per cent of approvals on time in 2019-20 after the environment department received $25 million in December to clear the backlog.

Ms Butler said the drop in approvals followed massive cuts to the environment department's budget in 2014.

"Scott Morrison claims to be a JobMaker, but he's a JobDelayer," Ms Butler said.

"The Liberal National Government's cuts and mismanagement have led to

job and investment delays."

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said Labor was divided on the issue, backing miners in rural electorates and politicising major projects in the inner city.

"Labor has blocked previous Coalition attempts to reform environmental approvals and responded with nothing of substance," she said.

"Their data pays no attention to the increasing politicisation and complexity of approvals in recent years, a factor they would be all too familiar with."

Mr Morrison has indicated the government was seeking to streamline environmental approvals for major projects.

Environment Sussan Ley says Labor is divided on resources and the environment. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas
Environment Sussan Ley says Labor is divided on resources and the environment. Picture: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Ms Butler said environmental approval laws had not changed since 2013.

Ms Ley said Professor Graeme Samuel's interim review of the EPBC Act would be released very shortly. "Unlike Labor, who left the Hawke review on the shelf a decade ago, we will be looking to act," she said.

The Australian National Audit Office report, from late June, found in one of the worst delays, a decision on a north Queensland residential and tourism project was 1852 days, or five years, overdue.

The delay was due to "errors, ambiguous wording, and a different person being specified in approval and referral notices".

 

Originally published as Problem delaying thousands of jobs


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