Where’s the balance?

18 September 2019

More work needs to be done to ensure there is a balance between clear and effective environmental legislation and sustainable economic development in the Northern Territory.

Deputy Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro said this balance was missing, as the Gunner Labor Government moves to pass the Environment Protection Bill 2019 this Sittings.

"The CLP is unashamedly pro-development and believes the Northern Territory has limitless potential, and we must remind ourselves we are a small and developing economy," she said.

"The CLP Opposition is acutely aware of the need to protect our environment for future generations because of its importance not only to our ongoing existence, but also our unique Territory lifestyle.

"The Bill does not strike the right balance between the absolute need to develop, and the imperative of protecting our environment."

Mrs Finocchiaro said given the state of the Territory’s economy thanks to the Gunner Labor Government, there was even more reason to ensure there was a balance.

"The Territory needs jobs and opportunities that attracts people to move here and importantly, stops them from leaving," she said.

"It is hard to live here when you do not have a job, and it is impossible to enjoy living in the Territory if our lifestyle is not protected. Therein lies the desperate need for balance."

She said the Bill’s sheer size creates greater complexity and additional processes that impacts on the confidence of proponents to invest.

"For this legislation to be effective, and for the Opposition to support it, we are calling on the Gunner Labor Government to find that balance," she said.

"This Bill erodes transparency, outsources responsibility to the NT EPA in a number of areas, gives aspirational timelines only, and gives environmental officers extensive powers without limitation or the requirement that they be suitably qualified.

"Even more concerning is that regulations which support this Bill are yet to be drafted meaning stakeholders have been unable to assess and provide feedback to the Scrutiny Committee.

"Equally concerning is that the Gunner Labor Government prepared a Regulatory Impact Statement, sought feedback from stakeholders but are refusing to publish the results, so we again question what they’re hiding."