News - 26 April 2021

Statement on the WA Chamber of Mines and Energy submission

Tim Beshara, Manager of Policy and Strategy, gives the following statement on the submission from the WA Chamber of Mines and Energy that they don't support Professor Samuel's National Environmental Standards:

"I don't know if I should be astonished or unsurprised at the comment from the WA Chamber of Mines and Energy in saying they don't support the Professor Samuel environmental standard because it would 'fundamentally raise the bar in regards to environmental assessment'. This is the sort of thing you might overhear in the QANTAS Chairman's Lounge said privately between two mining executives, but you'd not expect to hear them say aloud in public.  

"Professor Samuel said that new National Environmental Standards were the centrepiece of his reforms and without these and the associated systemic reforms then Australia is locking in ongoing species extinction and the decline of our iconic places. Business and the environment movement had backed this. 

"The WA Chamber of Mines and Energy are, in effect, saying that their members can't or won't operate their mines in a way that doesn't seriously impact Australia's most important environmental values.  

"And if the Australian Government was to follow the lead of this lobby group and refuse to adopt higher standards then it wouldn't just impact on Western Australia's ecosystems, but would have nationwide consequences. 

"What I see here are companies like BHP, Rio Tinto and Woodside working via their lobby group trying to veto an effort to raise national environmental standards that will have massive ramifications for koalas, for the Barrier Reef, for Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area. What is going on if these companies have the power to intervene in the fate of all of Australia's endangered species in this way? It's bad enough that they won't take steps to reduce their own impacts, but it's unconscionable if their lobbying efforts succeed in undermining the protection of species that have no relation to their businesses."  

Tim Beshara, Manager of Policy and Strategy, Wilderness Society