Article by Matthew Killoran courtesy of the Courier Mail
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 ahead of the release of a review into the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The analysis shows that just 5 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 days. 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 said that the data failed to take into account the increasing politicisation and complexity of the 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 , the figure had plummeted to just 5 per cent of decisions made 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 $25m 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 Job-Delayer ,” Ms Butler said.
“The Liberal National government’s cuts and mismanagement have led to job and investment delays.”
Environment Minister Sussan Ley accused Labor of being divided on the issue, backing miners in rural electorates while 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.”
The Prime Minister has indicated that his government is seeking to streamline environmental approvals for major projects.
Ms Ley said that 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.