Reason 10 why the Cth should not devolve environmental approval powers to the States: it represents an attack on democracy

Here it is – number 10 in our blog series ‘10 Reasons why responsibility for national environmental laws ought not be transferred to the States’

Process is not everything, but it matters.  By what process did we get to the point where the Commonwealth is proposing to back away from its responsibilities under national environmental law?  If the process is in some way questionable then we ought at least treat the outcomes with scepticism.

The process is in fact in my view highly suspect.  In fact I’ve gone as far as to say that its undemocratic, basically because what is happening here is that an exclusive group of business representatives (the Business Advisory Forum) have been given (and continue to be given) extraordinarily privileged access to the Council of Australian Governments, one of the key policy insitutions in our messy federal system. 

It was a result of the first meeting of the Business Advisory Forum that CoAG agreed that we should handover national environmental responsibilities to States.  Consultation with environment NGOs?  Nil.  Involvement of ordinary citizens in such an important decision?  Nil.

I’ve written a more detailed analysis which you can find on New Matilda.

*Read the latest – the Prime Minister is reconsidering her plans to delegate Commonwealth environmental approvals powers to the States.

Read more about the COAG attacks on environmental laws.

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