Morrison distracts from cuts to big project approvals department

21 November 2019

The Morrison Government’s announcement that environmental law applications will be able to be submitted online is an admission that the Government’s cuts and mismanagement are at the heart of delayed environmental approvals.
The Liberals are now in their seventh year of Government and it has only just dawned on them that the internet exists. Welcome to 1997.
The Morrison Government has reportedly cut funding to the department responsible for assessing environmental approval applications by almost 40% since coming to office.
Labor will be happy to consider administrative improvements to make the process quicker.
But if the Prime Minister wants to make a real difference he should also look at the damage and delays that his Government’s cuts have inflicted on projects and jobs.
The total number of decisions made by the department has gone backwards, but the number of late, delayed decisions has significantly increased. In 2018-19, decisions made later than statutory timeframes reached a high of 40% of all decisions, up from 15% when they came to office.
The Morrison Government must face up to industry concerns about the real cause of the problem – high workloads contributing to ever-increasing delays - and make sure the department has the resources it needs to get decisions made quickly.
Improving administrative processes and making sure departments have the resources they need is just a basic, everyday task of Government. It’s a measure of how hopeless this Government is that they feel the need to make a big fanfare out of creating an online form.
What the Morrison Government must not be allowed to do is to create a crisis through cuts and mismanagement, then use that as a pretext for weakening environmental protections.
Australians want more jobs sooner and strong environmental protections, and they want the Government to get its act together on this process.
The Government needs to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Australia can have strong environmental protections and at the same time create jobs and get projects underway.

This loose-with-the-truth Prime Minister clearly has no plan for our country and is is asleep at the wheel of the department responsible for approving projects