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Australian government will better track environmental projects and publish results publicly

The Australian government has announced it will begin clearly tracking environmental projects with quarterly results published on the Department of Environment and Energy website.

Announced on November 21, this will enable communities, environmental groups and businesses to have greater transparency over the progress of major projects as the Australian government focusses on deregulation reform.

Where the projects involve the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, they could involve waste management and resource recovery initiatives.

On November 20, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced government plans for a national digital transformation program commencing with an initial partnership with the Western Australian government. This will mean access to one online portal to submit an application through both tiers of government and access to a single database of biodiversity studies that can, in turn, be rolled out nationally.

The biodiversity database will provide better access to information such as wildlife surveys, allow faster and more comprehensive data for project assessments, and provide a baseline that can be used by government to better measure conservation outcomes.

The partnership will lay the foundation for a national system that will reduce the current three-and-a-half-year time frame taken to assess major projects and the estimated $300 million cost to the economy, while maintaining all safeguards under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The Australian government is also investing $25 million in reducing unnecessary delays within the existing assessment system, including the establishment of a major projects team to ensure assessments can be completed efficiently and thoroughly in accordance with the Act.