A report released by two national environmental organisations has claimed that weak Australian environment protection laws are giving mining companies a “licence to kill.”
The report – compiled by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Environmental Defenders Office – focused on the approval of the Adani Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.
It found that conditions set by the federal government were “woefully inadequate” and will not protect the environment as claimed.
The report counters a claim by then Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt who, upon re-approving the coal project in October 2015, claimed the approval was subject to “36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history”.
“Our weak laws effectively give companies like Adani a licence to kill.”
It instead found that the conditions will not stop the destruction of critical finch habitat, safeguard culturally significant springs or protect the Great Barrier Reef from pollution damage.
The report notes that, under the current approved conditions, Adani is not required to provide an alternative, offset environment for the endangered Black-t
Throated Finch until two years after mining operations begin.
CEO of the ACF, Kelly O’Shanassy, says current laws give the environment minister too much discretion over major decisions.
“The new Minister for Environment & Energy, Josh Frydenberg, should not rely on the previous minister’s approval of the Carmichael mine and the ineffective conditions attached to it, but should re-assess it with all the evidence he now has,” she said.
The report also highlights concerns over transparency and accountability. The report recommends the government implement changes that allow for the public release of all assessment and recommendation reports when a project is approved or refused, and disallow the Minister from making specific agreements to keep management plans and monitoring documents confidential.
The report is available here.