'We will not have a Juukan Gorge incident': Minerals Council backs streamlined approvals

Juukan Gorge was the location of Aboriginal rock shelters before it was destroyed by Rio Tinto. Picture: PKKP Aboriginal Corporation
Juukan Gorge was the location of Aboriginal rock shelters before it was destroyed by Rio Tinto. Picture: PKKP Aboriginal Corporation

Environmental groups say habitat clearing and environmental destruction will become more common under proposed new streamlining of environmental approvals following a review of Australia's environment protection and biodiversity legislation by Professor Graeme Samuel.

Along with new national environmental standards, the Morrison government's proposed streamlining legislation is intended to remove duplication and conflict between state and commonwealth approval processes for developments.

The streamlining received endorsement from the peak bodies representing business and the farming, minerals and petroleum industries.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable said the streamlining could see months or years shaved off approvals processes, sparking a rebuke from Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young that the same laws also protect cultural heritage, like the Indigenous site at Juukan Gorge destroyed by Rio Tinto.

"You've got a member in Rio Tinto that behaved disgracefully, now you'll hook your organisation to ... faster approval for mines? It beggars belief. You can't even guarantee [appropriate development] under the rules that are already here," Senator Hanson-Young said.

Ms Constable said the Minerals Council "has confidence we will not have a Juukan Gorge incident in the future."

"There is rarely a point in which [environmental] processes do not get discussed, because they are a major barrier to investment occurring for this industry and a major barrier to this industry being able to progress projects in a timely manner," she told senators.

Parliament will soon vote on the legislation without seeing the new national environmental standards.

This story 'We will not have a Juukan Gorge incident': Minerals Council backs streamlined approvals first appeared on The Canberra Times.