MEDIA STATEMENT “On the Federal Environment Department correspondence regarding development approvals for clearing of native vegetation”

15 January 2016

I am concerned that there are activist public servants inside the state and federal environment departments who are not satisfied with the policy agendas of either governments and are looking for ways to circumvent the intentions of both governments.

The letters sent recently to landholders with a valid development approvals for the clearing of native vegetation for high value agriculture provide no clear instructions regarding how to respond. There are no details about whether landholders must make an additional application or what the parameters would likely be assessed.

The lack of information suggests these public servants are attempting to intimidate landholders. It suggests these public servants are running a political agenda.

This letter could have a negative impact on investor confidence, especially in the development of Northern Australia, which is a central policy platform of the Federal Government.

Since we came to government, the Coalition has spent a lot of effort trying to strip away red tape, green tape and blue tape to encourage a stronger business environment and now a couple of public servants with their own political agenda are attempting to wind back these efforts. It’s simply not good enough.

Either this is a some sort of farce coming from a few activist public servants or this is a deliberate policy setting within the environmental departments at the state and federal level to actively resist government policy in relation to development permits.

If this is the case, the Minister needs to take a seriously dim view of this activity and chop a few heads off.

Landholders don’t know what is going on at the moment and the Environment Minister has to provide clarity as to whether landholders should ignore these letters or, failing that, explain what steps landholders need to take to ensure there is no breach of national law.

All landholders want is stability and common sense. It should not be too much to expect that governments provide it.