Business achieves progress on ‘nature positive’ changes

The Federal Government’s decision to commit to full public consultation for most of its controversial ‘nature positive’ reforms is welcome news to businesses, CCIWA says.

This announcement comes after CCIWA highlighted the potential risks to WA’s economy in its Green Web report in late 2023, finding $318 billion worth of investment in WA alone was tied up in environmental approval delays.

The proposed changes had sparked widespread fears among businesses that the rewrite of Federal environment laws would increase green tape and potentially torpedo major projects, including new mines, farms, housing, clean energy developments, electricity transmission and public infrastructure.

However, the Government has confirmed that the next tranche of legislation to be introduced in coming weeks will not include the power for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve or reject projects as originally proposed, instead acting as an auditor to enforce Federal laws.

CCIWA Chief Economist Aaron Morey says while there are still deep concerns with the planned changes, they do show the Government is listening.

“This is a sensible shift in the approach to consultation and we are pleased to see that the Government has taken on board the concerns that CCIWA and other groups have presented to them in recent months,” he says.

“Industry has been concerned about a lack of clarity when it comes to aspects of the reforms, so the Government’s commitment to releasing an exposure draft will ensure there is adequate scope for feedback.

“We will continue to work with Government and industry to ensure Australia’s environmental laws are fit-for-purpose, delivering outcomes for the environment while also protecting our economic and social prosperity.”

Key points: Nature Positive Plan stage two

  • National EPA established with new powers and penalties to enforce Federal laws, including the ability to issue Environment Protection Orders or ‘stop-work’ orders for breaking the law and the ability to conduct audits
  • Environment Information Australia established to give businesses access to environmental data and increase transparency for the community
  • Faster approvals, supported with nearly $100 million of funds

Nature positive has greater impact on WA

Morey says the nature positive reforms have the potential to impact on WA more significantly than other states.

“WA’s large mining and agriculture sectors means the economic impact here would be significant, and that is reflected in the high level of concern expressed by industry in WA,” he says.

“These reforms are dramatic and far-reaching, so it is vital that they are delivered in a way that takes into account the economic benefits brought by major projects.”

Changes will support business: Plibersek

Federal Environment and Water Minister Tanya Plibersek says the Government is “working to support faster, clearer decisions for business”.

“That greater certainty for business will help drive investment in nation-building projects,” she says.

Laws to deliver the Nature Positive Plan will be introduced into Parliament in the coming weeks.


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