Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s decision overnight to cancel the EPBC approval processes for two coal projects in central Queensland is disappointing news – but unsurprising, given that progress on both largely stalled years ago.
As Ms Plibersek herself has conceded today, there has been no interaction or progress on these applications (for Stanmore Coal Limited’s Range Coal project and MacMines Austasia’s China Stone Coal Mine project, respectively) since mid-2020. That followed decisions, in earlier years, by both proponents to largely halt work even on the scoping of the projects.
What is more telling about Ms Plibersek’s commentary about her actions is her ongoing glee in cancelling or suspending coal projects. These types of projects remain crucial to our national economy, with the capacity to create thousands of jobs across Australia and hundreds of millions of dollars of critical investment in, and royalties for, our country.
More broadly, they are crucial for Australia’s resources sector, and are typically a lifeblood for regional towns across the country.
“This is a case – again – of Ms Plibersek trying to pretend that she is making big announcements in her portfolio, when the reality is that it’s just a straightforward administrative action,” said Shadow Environment Minister, Jonno Duniam.
“Nevertheless, it is particularly disappointing that her decision represents confirmation that these two projects won’t proceed,” said Senator Duniam.
“There is an anti-jobs and anti-investment culture that is clearly now growing under the Albanese Government,” said Shadow Resources Minister, Susan McDonald.
“This Labor Government clearly has very little interest in promoting economic activity in regional areas – including through the ripping up of many infrastructure projects,” said Senator McDonald.
“The decision overnight also highlights – again – the difficulties for businesses of trying to traverse ridiculously long environmental approval processes in Australia,” said Senator Duniam.
“The timing of Ms Plibersek’s triumphal comments about ending coal projects could also barely be more ironic given the news earlier this week that the Government’s tax revenue and profligate spending is currently soaring on the back of coal exports from Australia,” said Senator McDonald.