Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Meeting with the Queensland Government

Media release
7 June 2012

The meeting with Deputy Premier Seeney and Minister Powell today was productive and is hopefully the first step in resolving the differences which have unfolded between the Commonwealth and Queensland over the past fortnight.

It was agreed that now a Commonwealth process has commenced to deal with the outstanding matters relating to the Alpha Coal project, this will continue to its completion.

There were different views as to how the process of the last week matches up with the current bilateral agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland.

These differences had already been made clear in public over recent days.

There was a common view that the best outcome for the future is to have a streamlined process which is able to fully meet the requirements of Queensland and Commonwealth legislation.

There will be discussion in the coming days between jurisdictions to determine how the current bilateral would need to be amended to create greater certainty for the environment and business.

A fully streamlined process occurs when reports from Queensland deal with all matters of national environmental significance that are required for a Commonwealth decision to be made.

If they do not, we are left with a duplicated process.

It is intended that this process will conclude within the 10 day period which was initiated through my letter to the Queensland Government on Tuesday.

There must be no reduction in environmental standards.

That point was a foundation for all discussions which took place today and sets the context for delivering the objectives of a streamlined process.

For whatever reasons the current bilateral has not delivered the twin aims of high environmental standards and a streamlined process for business. The work in coming days aims to resolve this.