Cook Labor Government scrambling to fix green tape mess created under its watch

The Cook Labor Government’s so-called ‘war on green tape’ is a last-minute attempt to unwind the bureaucratic mess created under its watch.

“While any attempt to fix the overly burdensome approvals process is acknowledged, I question why this has only become a priority for this government now, a year out from the election,” WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam said.

“The backlog of approvals and inefficient regulation has occurred under this government’s watch, and it has only been after facing a backlash from industry that the Premier has finally taken notice.

“Many of these issues around a lack of resources and retention of key staff and could have been addressed much earlier if there had been proper oversight from the government.

“The Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed that about $318 billion worth of known investment projects were yet to receive environmental approvals due to the number of applications waiting to be assessed.

“This is an appalling statistic that highlights how the government has dropped the ball on this issue and is now scrambling to give the appearance of action in the lead up to the 2025 State election. I hope the implementation of the reforms is given the urgency it deserves.”

Ms Mettam also called on the Premier to outline how he intended to advocate for industry trying to navigate the constant changes being pushed through new Federal environmental laws.

“While WA Labor may be talking the talk on State environmental approvals, this is a Premier who is yet to prove he can stand up for WA to his Federal colleagues,” she said.

“We saw that last week when he rolled over and threw his support behind the Prime Minister’s damaging industrial relations law changes aimed at strengthening union power at the expense of industry.”

Shadow Environment Minister Neil Thomson said the community could not have any faith in the government’s ability to deal with the backlog on new developments given so many important
projects had been delayed.

“Many of these include critical minerals projects which are vital to place Western Australia at the forefront of the energy transformation, Mr Thomson said.

“The disregard for efficient regulation has created significant uncertainty, including for existing projects, because of delays in decision-making by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Mr Thomson said today’s announcement to introduce a new unit to assist proponents was an acknowledgement that the much-touted electronic approvals reform had not resolved the cultural and resourcing challenges in approval agencies.

“The decision to require the EPA to comply with a Statement of Intent that considers the State Government’s “priorities and policies” demonstrates how Minister Whitby and Minister McGurk have failed to drive effective delivery of agency assessments and approvals,” he said.