The Abbott Government's 'one-stop-shop' environmental standards, released today, weaken community consultation rights and abandon federal environmental responsibilities, say the Australian Greens.
"Not only does the Abbott Government want to wash its hands of federal environment protection but it's trying to silence the community in the process," Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson and environmental lawyer, said.
"Australians care about the environment, they want our international obligations to protect it upheld, and they deserve to be heard when they oppose damaging developments.
"But because that's not convenient for mining magnates and big business, Tony Abbott is washing his hands of environmental responsibilities and trying to reduce the community's right to speak out and protect our land, water, climate and beloved wildlife.
"The standards document released by the government today does not guarantee the same level of community consultation rights that our federal environmental law provides.
"So not only will state governments have the final say on destructive developments threatening national environmental assets, they'll be able to get away with less community consultation.
"State governments have an appalling track record on environmental protection - that's why federal environmental oversight was first brought in more than 30 years ago.
"Development approval decisions are notoriously political and at the state level they're highly influenced by royalties and donations, often at the expense of environmental assets that underpin biodiversity, agriculture and tourism.
"In reality, the track record of state governments shows they won't comply with federal environmental standards, and there is little likelihood of the federal government stepping back in when they are breached as those federal bureaucrats are planned to be sacked or redeployed to other areas.
"And with state governments furiously sacking and shrinking their environment departments, not only will they lack the will to enforce the standards, they will lack the capacity.
"Tony Abbott and his state cronies are doing all they can to please their big mining buddies at the expense of the environment and community," Senator Waters said.