Submission on the Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on the Inquiry into Environment and Infrastructure Legislation Amendment (Stop Adani) Bill 2017 (the Bill).

The MCA considers the Bill is unworkable, unnecessary and potentially counterproductive.  It will generate considerable risk for existing and future businesses, affecting investment in the minerals industry but other sectors of the economy.  Accordingly, the MCA recommends the Bill be rejected.

The MCA holds significant concerns over the title of Bill, which singles out one company (Adani) and associated developments that have already been approved under both state and Commonwealth law.  Furthermore, these approval decisions have already been subject to review by the Courts, including one Federal Court process which is ongoing. 

It is unclear whether the development of the Bill satisfies any of the COAG requirements for good regulation as the explanatory memorandum fails to address these principles. 

Given the significant impact of retrospective changes to national environmental law, we believe retrospective legislation should only be introduced where there is a compelling, evidence-based case to support its introduction.  The potential impacts on broader industry and future investment must also be carefully evaluated.

The complex and unwieldy suitable persons ‘test’ in the Bill would create considerable uncertainty for proponents.  It would be highly problematic not only for new approvals, but put at risk current operations seeking simply to extend or vary an existing EPBC Act approval. 

There are many reasons approval conditions may be varied, not all of which are significant.  Accordingly, it would be nonsensical that a mine seeking to vary a pre-existing EPBC Act approval, including minor changes, would require a potentially global review of executive officers and associated entities.  It would serve only to create significant uncertainty for these operations while unnecessarily complicating the EPBC Act operation.

The MCA contends that existing provisions in the EPBC Act already allow for the minister to account for a proponent’s environmental history where appropriate, (for example, when a mine is purchased).  

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