EDITORIAL: It’s not too late to scrap loopy ‘Nature Positive’ laws

Editorial
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s U-turn on the idiotic Pilbara speed limit must only be the beginning. 
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s U-turn on the idiotic Pilbara speed limit must only be the beginning.  Credit: The Nightly

It’s hard to think of a better way Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek could have chosen to illustrate the lunacy of her so called “Nature Positive” plan to radically overhaul Australia’s complex environmental laws.

The idea to speed limit traffic along stretches of road in the vast Pilbara mining region to a crawling 40km/h probably sounded like a good one to the bureaucrats who dreamt it up 3000km away at a board table in Canberra.

After all, 40km/h is plenty fast when navigating that city’s roundabouts from the backseat of an Uber Green.

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But it’s not so suitable when you’re carrying vital mining equipment — or the minerals or metals themselves — distances of hundreds of kilometres.

The rationale behind the proposal was that lowering the speed limit would “mitigate damage to fauna”, presumably by giving drivers more time to dodge suicidal wallabies.

Less thought was given to the billions of dollars the change could have wiped from the Australian economy.

And therein lies one of the key problems with the Nature Positive plan.

When you hand over power to a handful of activist public servants whose chief preoccupation is the wellbeing of small mammals instead of the wellbeing of the economy, you are going to get some dense decisions.

As adorable as they are and as regrettable their deaths may be, the handful of marsupials who meet their maker via road train grille do not merit applying a handbrake to the nation’s resources industry.

Thankfully, in this instance Ms Plibersek has seen sense.

A spokesperson for the Nature Positive plan’s architect said a decision had been made to not to push ahead with enforcing the thought bubble.

But it’s unlikely to be the last speed bump Nature Positive puts in the way of productivity.

It’s a plan that has everyone nervous.

It’s not too late for the Albanese Government to junk this ideologically-charged and ill-advised reform and start over.

Farmers fear it will make navigating Australia’s already convoluted environmental regulations — which often conflict with State laws — even tougher.

The resources industry says it could increase regulatory burden, litigation risk and blow out project time lines even further. All this as productivity stagnates and the economy edges towards the precipice.

Even green groups have their concerns about the reform’s ministerial “call-in” mechanism.

And we haven’t even seen the draft legislation yet.

The Government has so far chosen to keep that under lock and key, instead inviting a coterie of stakeholders to closed door lock-ups, into which they aren’t allowed to bring mobile phones or laptops.

It means the public has to rely on information coming in dribs and drabs out of those meetings to give them an idea of what’s contained in this incredibly complex and wide-ranging reform.

The secrecy has only exacerbated angst.

Ms Plibersek’s U-turn on the idiotic Pilbara speed limit must only be the beginning.

It’s not too late for the Albanese Government to junk this ideologically-charged and ill-advised reform and start over.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by The Nightly Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie.

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