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WA gov urges commonwealth to sign agreement to fast track approvals

The Western Australian government is urging the federal government to establish an Environmental Approvals Bilateral Agreement that would fast track approvals for major resources projects.

Announced by the state government on November 27, Premier Mark McGowan has written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison to request the change.

The proposed agreement, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, would reduce major project timeframes, duplication and costs, whilst maintaining the highest environmental standards.

A bilateral agreement of this nature is possible under the current Western Australian and federal legislation, and requires no additional legislative change.

If agreed to by the Prime Minister it is expected to reduce assessment processes for major projects by about six months – making it easier to do business in the state.

McGowan said that it is a vital agreement that would slash approval times for major projects and unleash WA jobs.

“The current approvals process is too slow and there is too much duplication at state and commonwealth levels.

“We need to do everything we can to speed up approvals and bring on these new jobs as a matter of urgency,” McGowan said.

“Industry has been crying out for bilateral approvals and we are responding to these calls. This plan ensures we maintain the highest environmental standards, but don’t get bogged down in bureaucracy.”

The bilateral agreement would complement the state and federal governments’ recent agreement to create a new online portal system to submit and track approval applications.

Western Australia’s Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said that with better systems, improved legislation and extra resources for our environmental agencies, the Government is serious about making it easier to do business in WA and it’s great to see our Commonwealth counterparts recognise and support our initiatives.

“WA is leading the way in innovative practice to ensure certainty for business and our safeguarding of the environment for future generations,” Dawson said.