Aaron Morey: Commonwealth green tape is putting productivity in a tangle

The Cook Government’s announcement this week on environmental approval reforms reflects the power of economic leadership. Faced with a growing body of evidence that our environmental approvals regime is harming our capacity to grow and diversify our economy, it took incisive steps to mitigate any potential damage and strengthen WA’s reputation as a place to invest. It’s now time for Canberra to follow suit.

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COOK’S NEW LAWS DECLARE WAR ON ‘GREEN TAPE’

Environmental approvals for significant projects will be dramatically sped up through a raft of major changes as Premier Roger Cook declares “our system isn’t working” and green tape is strangling WA’s aspirations to become a “clean energy powerhouse”. Proposed legislative amendments will hand the Environment Minister new powers to force faster assessments for proposals of “State significance” while external consultants will be employed to help clear existing backlogs. The Environmental Protection Authority will be required to comply with a Statement of Intent that takes into account the State Government’s “priorities and policies” and the regulator’s board will be bolstered to include members with industry experience.

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GAS CRUCIAL TO AUSTRALIA FOR DECADES TO COME, MODELLING REVEALS

Australia will likely need gas for electricity, industry and exports for decades to come and politicians have been warned not to shut down technology options too early, new modelling reveals.“Preparing for only one pathway leaves Australia extremely vulnerable to developments that are outside Australia’s control,” the report says. “Should any energy pathway or technology face challenges in its deployment, it will be critical to have alternative energy sources in the mix to maintain energy security and affordability and to keep emissions reductions efforts on track.”

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IR LAWS ‘HARM NATION’

Mining giant BHP says Labor’s new industrial relations laws could cost it up to up to $1.3bn each year and make Australia “more expensive and less competitive.” BHP joins other companies in attacking the changes, specifically the move to toughen labour hire laws to ensure contractors are paid the same as regular employees.

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PRESSURE GROWS ON WA TAXES

Overhauling WA’s onerous payroll tax regime would pump $1.35 billion into the State’s economy and create nearly 4000 jobs, laying the platform for a new wave of investment while preventing fast-expanding companies from relocating to the east coast. That is according to independent research commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA, which will be used to reignite calls for the “tax on jobs” to be slashed in the next State Budget. Under the model favoured by the chamber, WA’s payroll tax threshold would be raised from its current $1 million to $1.3m, carving out more smaller businesses completely.

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Emmanuel Macron says Australia should lift its nuclear ban as Albanese government shuns 2050 nuclear pledge

“When more than 20 countries, including some of our closest allies, signed a pledge today at COP28 in Dubai calling for a tripling of zero-emissions nuclear energy, our government was nowhere to be seen,” the Opposition Leader said. “US Climate Envoy John Kerry said ‘ … you can’t get to net zero in 2050 without some nuclear’. If Australia is serious about reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 while keeping the lights on and getting prices down, we can’t afford to take any option off the table.”

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Projects regulated to death

As the minister overseeing the process, he has been unable to effect any real change in seven years, so there’s little confidence that change will happen quickly. According to the CCIWA, there are about $381 billion of investment projects in the pipeline that are yet to receive environmental approval that could create an estimated 106,000 jobs. Of those the CCIWA surveyed, 40 per cent were at risk of abandoning their project due to longer-than expected approval times. As outlined in the WA CCI’s Green Web report, businesses have described working with the State Environmental Protection Authority as “laborious and frustrating” with “ever-changing guidelines and shifting goal posts”. Currently, the normal expectation for a mine to come online is eight to 10 years, double traditional expectations of four to five years.

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Gina’s Christmas wish

Australia’s richest person has called on the federal government to give the nation a “Christmas bonus” in the form of a petrol excise tax cut to deal with spiralling costs, as “woke agendas” threaten Aussie living standards. “Every few dollars counts for people in tough times,” Mrs Rinehart told The Daily Telegraph. “With the stroke of a pen, the government could deliver minor short-term relief to millions by cutting the petrol tax for households.

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Gina’s call for xmas fuel relief

Australians should receive a “much-needed” Christmas bonus from the Federal Government, in the form of another fuel excise cut for December, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart believes. Speaking out after hearing about the impact of cost-of-living rises from West Australians at the National Agriculture and Related Industries Day, Mrs Rinehart said halving the 44.2¢ a litre excise would provide relief. Former prime minister Scott Morrison’s government halved the fuel excise to 22.1¢ a litre in March last year, offering six months of cost-of-living relief to drivers.

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