Senate inquiry to look at environmental approvals

A new Senate inquiry driven by the Palmer United Party will examine activity of the Queensland state government and premier Campbell Newman, with questions to be asked about industrial development and environmental approvals.

The move has been congratulated by Lock the Gate Alliance, with national co-ordinator Phil Laird saying the inquiry would restore accountability in the state.

“This will be an incredibly important inquiry that will be able to explore the approval of coal and gas projects in Queensland and how they match with Australia's international environmental obligations,” he said.

“Our members have been increasingly concerned about a blatant lack of transparency in Qld and a set of dodgy dealings associated with mining approvals.

"On the Darling Downs, the community was devastated when the Newman Government back-flipped on a written promise to reject the New Acland coal mine after the LNP received $700,000 in political donations from the owners of the mine.

“Furthermore, just last month, brazen amendments to mining laws at three minutes to midnight stripped away the rights of landholders and community groups to challenge mining developments in court.

"What is occurring in Queensland at the moment is the deliberate decimation of both environmental law and landholder rights.”

The inquiry was established after a deal struck between Labor, Greens and PUP senators managed to override Federal Government resistance to the move.

Attorney-General George Brandis has said the motion is out of order and unlawful.

Senator Eric Abetz said the move was part of a private vendetta held by Clive Palmer against premier Campbell Newman.

"What's the concluding time for this senate inquiry? Oh, it just happens to coincide with the Queensland election,” he said.

"This inquiry makes a travesty of the Senate committee process. It will backfire badly and come to haunt Labor, the Greens and Palmer United in Queensland.”

The Greens have lent their support to the inquiry in order to assess whether Federal Government should delegate environmental approvals to the state.

Greens senator Larissa Waters said “We've clearly put the position that if the Newman Government were so awful as to warrant an inquiry into their terrible track record, clearly they should not be given more powers over the environment.”

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