Friday, February 4, 2011

It Is Not Appropriate For The WA State Government To Undertake The Environmental Impact Assessments Where They Are The Proponent.






February 2008, the Australian Government Environment Minister signed an agreement with the Western Australian State Government to undertake a Strategic Assessment of the impacts of actions under a plan for the Browse Basin common-user liquefied natural gas (LNG) precinct (now referred to as multi- user) and associated activities.

Some people are aware that this Strategic Assessment Report is currently open for public comment and will be only assessed by the Federal Environment Minister under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Of great significance to this undertaking is the Senate Inquiry (August 2008 - The Standing Committee on Environment, Communications and the Arts, The operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act).

This was established to investigate the operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and gauge how well Australia has responded to key environmental threats including ongoing land-clearing, invasive species and climate change.

Concerns were raised in this Senate Inquiry about the operation of bilateral agreements in circumstances where the proponent was closely linked with the State or Territory Government where there was a perceived bias or conflict of interest. In other words, it’s not appropriate for State Governments to undertake Environmental Impact Assessments where it is the proponent of the relevant project.

This Report goes on to say that [Section 4.8]

there are no guarantees of adequate assessment of, for example, threatened species and native vegetation, local heritage, Aboriginal cultural heritage, greenhouse gas emissions. It is inappropriate to accredit a process that potentially excludes comprehensive assessment of such matters.

In Section 23.41 the Coalition Senators’ Additional Comments to the Senate Inquiry’s Report included reference to bilateral agreements and welcomed Recommendation 6 stating that:

… The risk of State governments operating in the simultaneous roles of proponent and assessor as outlined in 4.10 of the majority report does have the potential to undermine public confidence in the system established by this Act.

However, this Strategic Assessment Process has been more than an undermining of confidence in the system. For the township of Broome and the Dampier Peninsula communities it’s been a devastating and divisive process that has had its own set of debilitating social impacts. This Strategic Assessment Process has been very carefully camouflaged with implementation more like a series of strategic manoeuvres that advantageously sought to maintain high levels of tension within building mistrust within the community.

Our wider community (families, friends, work colleagues and social groups) have been subjected to divide and conquer tactics, sponsorship bribes and dazzled by the sheer arrogant audacity of the Strategic Assessment Process. This process has failed as it has not achieved community endorsement; instead we are now being subjected to heavy-handed tactics.

As the proponent for the proposed world’s largest LNG refineries is the current WA State Government regime, where is the probity, legitimacy or authenticity in this process or it's Report's findings? Where is the justification for increasing debilitating social, environmental and economic impacts into a community that simply just does not want the LNG gas refineries to happen?

WA State Government Regime are:

·the proponents of this project,

·had the final determinations the boundaries of both the project physical location and the scope of the Strategic Assessment,

have undertaken measures to compulsorily acquire the land,

·re the lead assessors of all submissions/reports

·approvers of the approvals

·are using tax payers funds for the development of what primarily will be a private multinational company enterprise,

·have selectively only consulted with all their own affiliated departments in preparation of the Strategic Assessment,

·are remiss in failing to undertake any economic modeling or business feasibility justification for this project

·have circumnavigated, alienated and dismissed the communities of the Dampier Peninsula and their Shire Council as major stakeholders throughout the assessment process,

All of this has resulted in a total lack of community confidence in the process and all integrity has dwindled out of the Assessment findings into predetermined fabrications of the State Government regime in support their multi corporate co-conspirators.

Given the findings of the Senate Inquiry how can the Federal Government sit back and watch this happen considering the issues at stake.

So, as a community, where does that leave us?

16 comments:

  1. It's not hard to see by drawing all your posts together how the WA,Fed Governments and Woodside are using the loopholes in the various acts to their strategic advantage.
    I'd call Compulsory Acquisition a significant proposal.
    Being as they are relying on the weakness and not the strength of these acts,it seems reasonable to assume a good lawyer could have a win with this.
    Seems Barnett,Voelte and Ferguson have some thin ice to skate over.
    And I don't see anti gas hub people backing down.In fact quite the reverse.A lot more now than there ever was.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wouldn't Compulsory Acquisition be a "strategic proposal"?

    You are right about the loopholes, though. I think the legal principle that has led the EDO to take on the case has been that of whether or not a "significant proposal" can be "constructed" on the facts and not simply packaged up and announced as a "significant proposal".

    As for the appropriateness of the state being proponent and assessor - the issue is "what is the alternative?"

    Surely nobody is advocating privatisation of the Environmental Assessment process.

    I suppose the question would be whether the EPA is a "toothless tiger"

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well the problem is what does it mean under the act?
    Significant:with purpose and importance.
    Strategic:Strategy is a choice of options.
    The Senate Inquiry,mentioned by Redhand,was worried that the process was controlled by the same people.
    The EPA needs to be independent as the judges need to be independent in the legal system.
    But as we know it is not.
    So I guess it is up to a good lawyer to make the relevant parts of the act stand up in a court of law.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Any approval over 50 million goes straight to Barnett himself for approval.

    State Environment Act has had so many amendments, alongside the Aboriginal Heritage Act over the last year that’s its really scary. Most of the appeals processes have been terminated.

    How do you think Woodside got their Section 91? They removed the clause “that the Sate Minister would have to consult with Interested Parties”.

    The EPA, put up some great arguments for Barrow Island and amazing objections against the Gorgon Project.

    Barrrow Island ticked all the boxes several times over under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

    But, the Multies got their way.

    Now looks what’s happenings, there is no water and they are only in the early construction stage and already they are stealing from Broome’s bore – fields, to keep the dust down.

    Advocating for our Universities to undertake such studies!.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cheney really led the way on this.
    Ferguson with BP and PTTEP.
    Barnett and Voelte.
    Marmion.
    Wongs reply to Ludlum.
    All straight from the Halliburton playbook.
    Gorgon is suffering delays apparently because no one knew how time consuming the quarantine laws would be.Amongst other things.
    These mega projects are all being rushed through with little or no care for many of the basics.Broome beware.The writing is on the wall 5 miles high.The report that the EPA had told our Shire "to get back in it's corner",and the fact that they did,certainly proves they are not in any way up to the task of sorting these problems out.
    And Louise told them"this is 14 trains we are talking about here".
    They are worse than useless.
    The carbon capture scandal.
    The water scandals.
    Everything is coming apart at the seams.
    But they push on at all costs.
    Waldamany,if they ever get their hands on it,could be the greatest stuff up in the history of stuff ups.
    Barnett has problems with Oakajee Port,which he also wants to rush through.
    He has a hell of a lot on his plate with his major Perth projects.Less time to spend on his out of sight ones.
    What a house of cards it is.
    Imagine the SW drought breaking as it has over east.Rebuilding SW infrastructure would take over from all other.
    Sometimes I dread the 25 sqklm clearing of Waldamany,because I can see a tropical low settle over the area and millions of tons of exposed pindan washed out over the reefs.
    They are all playing with fire,and we all look like getting burnt.
    Looked up Geoff Hay and found the UWA club.His name link didn't work,don't know why.So I don't know if it's him.But it all tied up with Woodside and Kellogg Brown and Root,and the importance of getting the best and brightest to work for them.
    Keep all the right people in all the right places.
    Sadly the result of this is always a disaster.No one outside the box.
    And as we know all too well,they only wake up when it's too late.
    Usually after multiple loss of life.
    Politics.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Significant proposal" is defined in s37B(1)of the Environmental protection Act as

    "a proposal likely, if implemented, to have a significant effect on the environment"

    What does it mean that any project over $50mil has to be approved by the Premier?

    Also, regarding the EPBC Act - that is Federal Legislation. The Environmental Assessments are under the State government. How is the Federal Law coming into play in this?

    ReplyDelete
  7. A strategic proposal is a future proposal that will likely become significant.
    Howard says this has morphed to:
    A significant proposal is a proposal likely,if implemented,to have a significant effect on the environment,preventing the issue of clearing permits.
    From memory the more than 50 million dollar project referral was bought in by Barnett when he first won government to speed the approval process for these big projects.
    As for the EPBC,Redhand has pointed to the views of the Senate committee.Garrett was always at pains to explain his job under this act,and certainly highlighted the weaknesses contained in there.
    Once again we can look at Barrow Island.If they got away with that,then it is possible for them,the multies,to get away with anything.
    Perhaps Louise is right,the only thing standing between them and Waldamany are the "old ladies and babies."

    ReplyDelete
  8. I still don't get it.

    The $50 Mil project referral that has to be approved by the Premier.

    Is this any private company that has a $50m project or does it refer to spending of tax dollars.

    What has to be approved?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think the term is "fast tracked".
    There were problems with projects getting bogged down in red tape.
    Barnetts solution to this was to have every project over 50mil sent directly to his desk.He would then ensure that all the paper work was given priority,so the big ones got up asap.
    You would have to say it is coming unstuck big time as the infrastructure paper work isn't receiving the same enthusiastic
    reception.
    In fact I wouldn't mind betting we are heading into the mother of all bottlenecks on this issue.
    It could also be said it has resulted in a too much too soon situation,where skilled labour,materials,quality control,duty of care etc etc will be ongoing problems.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Okay, the idea is taking shape. You're saying that there is a "fast track process" for projects over $50m.

    That alone does not really mean anything, though.

    What sort of projects are we talking about and what is the process that is, presumably, being fast tracked?

    There is a big building - looks like thirty stories high - going up on the site of the old Westralia Square near the Perth Bus Station. That would be at least a $50m project. Would this have been part of this fast track?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Until some more facts emerge on this premier fasttrack thing - perhaps it should stay in the box labelled "someone said something about something"

    can anyone help?

    That guy from Kath and Kim, maybe?

    ReplyDelete
  12. What was the report about the EPA and the Broome Shire?

    ReplyDelete
  13. SORRY should have said DSD and Broome Shire:Broome Advertiser,Thursday February 3,2011.
    Page 4,"Motion:amend standing orders".
    "President Graeme Campbell mentioned that he and councillors had recently asked for more information such as this ,meeting with directors from thr DSD ,who told them to get"back in your corner".
    Question was"if council was aware of the danger of gases which may drift across the Shire from the proposed LNG gas plant".
    Good read on page 2:Queries over water supply for gas plant.
    RE the bloke from Kath and Kim,might be he can find some reference to it,I tried and failed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. That's interesting.

    Redhand reported a couple of months back that the Shire President had conceded that they were not at the negotiating table re Compulsory Acquisition.

    It would be interesting to know who is exactly at the table on this CA business.

    The chances are that there are three different "negotiating tables" because different parcels of land are being acquired under differing legislation, according to a source at the Native Title Tribunal.

    The Kimberley Land Council are saying that Traditional owners only get negotiating rights over one of the parcels of land.

    Section 66B objection decision this Tuesday.

    Keep posting re Shire Council.

    ReplyDelete