A $25 million Morrison Government investment in congestion busting is breaking through a multi-billion-dollar backlog of environmental assessments to deliver better outcomes for the environment and for the economy.
In the December quarter this year just 19 per cent of key assessment decision points were being made on time.
By March 2020 we are making 87 per cent on time and the Department is on track to make that figure 100 per cent by June 2020, with no relaxation of any environmental safeguards under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
In December 19, there was also a backlog of 78 overdue key decisions. That backlog has already been reduced by 47 per cent and is on track to be cleared by the end of this year.
Cutting Green Tape is not about removing protection for the environment - it is about getting rid of unnecessary delays - delays that currently cost environmental groups, businesses and the economy hundreds of millions of dollars.
Our teams are finding that business confidence in a balanced assessment approach is making companies more proactive in identifying and complying with environmental safeguards under the EPBC Act, particularly in the light of the Bushfire Crisis.
Professor Graeme Samuel will prepare an interim report into his review of the EPBC Act by the middle of this year and I expect he will, in the course of the review, identify a range of measures that we can take to prevent unnecessary delays and improve environmental standards.
Where there are opportunities to make sensible changes ahead of the final EPBC review report, I will be prepared to do so.
We are getting congestion out of the system and we will continue to do so as the economy comes through the COVID-19 crisis, but we will also continue to ensure that our environment is protected and that proponents comply with environmental legislation.