The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) has serious concerns the Northern Territory Government is being unduly influenced by industry in the current regulatory reform process, by today announcing changes to how environmental decisions are to be reviewed.
After public pressure from industry in recent days, the NT Government has indicated they will remove open standing for judicial review and remove merits review from the recently released Draft Environment Protection Bill.
This is despite a previous commitment to introduce open standing and judicial review as recommended in the final report from the Scientific Inquiry Into Hydraulic Fracturing. Open standing is considered best practice environmental law, and helps provide a more transparent, accountable government and a stronger democratic process.
‘Whilst ALEC is supportive of the NT Government’s environmental regulatory reform process, and believe the Draft Environment Protection Bill is otherwise a strong piece of legislation, we are seriously concerned by today’s announcement. The NT Government is buckling under pressure from industry to remove the rights of people to challenge illegal and inappropriate decisions that could have significant environmental impacts’ said Jimmy Cocking CEO of the Arid Lands Environment Centre.
“Over the weekend we have seen an opinion piece in the Northern Territory News quoting gas lobbyist and ex-Chief Minister Paul Henderson calling for the weakening of the proposed environmental laws in regards to standing and review of decisions.”
“This was followed by an interview with the Chamber of Commerce CEO on commercial television calling for the government to limit the rights of people and organisations to comment on projects.”
“This morning, acting Minister for the Environment, Lauren Moss released a media statement stating that they had listened to industry (and the community) and were removing merits review for environmental assessments.”
"This is an example of the disproportionate influence special interest lobbyists have over the political process in the Northern Territory. They are holding the environment and public health to ransom in order to further their own economic agenda.”
"The public consultation period is not even finished. The NT Government needs to stand strong and deliver a set of environmental laws that does not place the interests of industry over that of our environment and climate.”
“The Arid Lands Environment Centre is working directly on the environmental regulatory reform process and we are making submissions and comments on many local, Territory and national issues. We urge Territorians to get involved in the NT regulatory reform process, otherwise it will be industry lobbyists who are dictating our future,” said Jimmy Cocking.
The Draft Environment protection Bill can be found at https://denr.nt.gov.au/environment-information/environmental-regulatory-reform/consultation-on-new-environment-protection-legislation