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IPA report: environmental laws increase 80-fold since 1971

The Weekend Australian today reported on the IPA’s recent report into the growth of federal environmental laws since 1971:

In 1971, when the McMahon Liberal government introduced the first commonwealth environment laws under the new Department of Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, they ­covered just 57 pages of legislation and regulation.

Last year, federal environmental laws stretched to 4,669 pages… after peaking at 5,004 pages in 2014 just after the Coalition ousted the Rudd-Gillard Labor government.

According to an analysis by the conservative Institute of Public Affairs, the size of the environmental bureaucracy had grown “persistently larger” since 1971.

The growth in federal environmental law dampens investment beyond the vexatious use of court challenges that have separately been estimated to have cost $1.2bn in investment in recent years. The IPA’s assessment of commonwealth environmental regulation finds “the burden of environmental laws has grown considerably, contributing to the significant red tape problem”.

The institute has calculated that red tape, not just so-called green lawfare that activists employ to delay and frustrate large developments, is costing the economy $176bn a year in foregone output.

“The burden of red tape is ­incurred across all industries and ­results in a range of economic costs,” the report says. “Environmental law is a significant part of this regulatory framework. Environmental red tape and regulation in particular has grown significantly in recent decades.”

The IPA argues that the commonwealth should devolve its environmental laws to the states to prevent duplication and red tape, while avoiding “a one size fits all” solution that suits activists ­opposed to development…

Simon Breheny, director of the free-market IPA think tank, told The Weekend Australian the “massive growth in federal environmental law places a significant burden on the economy”… He called for the federal government to “look at ways to address Australia’s red-tape problem”.

The study highlighted the plight of the Adani Carmichael mine project in central Queensland, which has been targeted by activists trying to stop the Galilee basin opening to coal mining.

The Adani central mining project application has been running for seven years and faced more than 10 court challenges. It includes a 22,000-page environmental impact statement.

In the Pilbara in Western Australia, the Roy Hill iron ore mine had to obtain 4000 separate licences, approvals and permits just for the pre-construction phase. The Productivity Commission reported in 2013 that one project had to meet 1500 government-imposed primary conditions and 8000 sub-conditions…

The Turnbull government vowed to review environmental laws to prevent activist groups’ legal challenges to development projects ranging from dams and roads to coalmines. It said challenges under section 487 of the Environment Act, which allows anyone with a “special interest in the environment” the right to challenge, were becoming more “vexatious and frivolous”. Of 32 legal challenges under the act that went to court, developers spent a cumulative 7,500 days — or 20 years — in court even though 28 of the environmental cases were defeated and three required only minor technical changes to go ahead.

Read more here ($). And you can read the IPA’s report, The Growth of Federal Environmental Laws: 1971 to 2016, here.

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Federal debt to explode to $600bn within three years

From The Australian today:

Australia’s gross public debt is on track to rise from $474bn as of last month to more than $600bn within the next three years — even including the government’s reform measures — which will amount to around $23,500 a person. Such calculations include swaths of the Australian population who will shoulder little of the debt repayment.

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There are 5.5 million Australians aged under 18 who can’t yet vote, and 3.3 million aged over 65, who can, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics population estimates. The debt burden per capita and per Australian under 18 has exploded since the financial crisis from $2600 and $11,100, respectively, to $20,300 and $90,300.

Read the full article here ($)

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Rinehart: Abbott must emulate Thatcher

Gina Rinehart wrote an important piece, published in Australian Resources & Investment, last week addressing the huge difficulties Australia faces to emerge from a cycle of budget deficits and growing debt:

Australia likewise has a lot to learn from Europe and our European migrants. Why did they come here? Why did they pick Australia? And how did many of their countries end up in such a mess? We must learn how big overspending governments, and giant consequent debts, started to dampen or control their future — and most importantly, how we can avoid the same fate. Continue Reading →

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A plan for the ABC

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Many IPA members have had suggestions about the future of the ABC. Here’s a valuable contribution from IPA member Stephen Blacketer from South Australia:

Well, I’ve finally done it. After being refused access to speak on air on the ABC I got angry enough to put finger to keyboard and write down my plan for reform of the ABC. The ABC uses its vast communications network and influence to steer political, cultural and economic debate to the left of politics. It certainly does not respect the charter that it should operate under. Continue Reading →

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Special offer to join the IPA

If you’re not already an IPA member, you might like to take advantage of a special offer we are running until Friday 15 March.

If you sign up as a member, you will not only receive your choice of a free book, but a bonus free book published by the IPA – Professor Gregory Melleuish’s Is the West Special?

The IPA relies on our members and supporters to fund all of our work – including FreedomWatch. We don’t get any government funding. We have to raise every dollar we spend each year fighting for freedom through membership fees and voluntary donations.

As an IPA member you won’t just be supporting our work, you’ll also receive a number of exclusive membership benefits. IPA members receive four editions each year of the award-winning IPA Review. They receive all our books and publications free. And they get early notice and special discounts to all of our events, including exclusive members-only events.

To sign up visit http://join.ipa.org.au/special-offer/ and enter the code “membership”.

Don’t forget to act before 15 March and get your bonus free book.

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Dreyfus challenged on free speech

This morning new Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus was interviewed on ABC 774 Melbourne by host Jon Faine. Here is a transcript of their discussion on free speech:

JON FAINE:  Mr Dreyfus, good morning to you. Congratulations.

MARK DREYFUS:  Good to be with you, John.

JON FAINE:  Free speech is one of the first issues you’re going to have to deal with. Did Nicola Roxon make a mess of the free speech reforms?

MARK DREYFUS:  Not at all. She’s put out a consultation draft and I think that’s really important to keep that up front. We put together, John, the five acts that together make up our anti-discrimination law and they’ve been built up over some four decades. You get a number of inconsistencies when you’ve got different acts, legislated at different times and I think it’s a worthwhile aim to try and put them together in a simpler form. That’s the purpose of it.

JON FAINE:  Yes but it’s triggered a massive campaign by media organisations and for instance, the IPA, already claiming a victory, saying Nicola Roxon’s departure is a win for the IPA.

MARK DREYFUS:  [Laughs] Well I suppose they like to make themselves as important as they possibly can. But they need to understand…

JON FAINE:  [Interrupts] But they’re right. They’ve been campaigning over this and it looks like – well are you going to change the draft?

Continue Reading →

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Brandis slams Roxon’s law

The Australian today published a a very encouraging article ($) by Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis on the draft anti-discrimination laws. These are the key paragraphs:

It appears the Senate committee examining the bill will next Monday be presented by the Attorney-General’s Department with “options” that include the removal of clause 19(2), which would have outlawed conduct that caused offence or insult.

However, those who have seen the bill for what it is – an outrageous attack on our most fundamental freedoms – shouldn’t be opening the champagne yet.

No decision has been made to abandon the provision, notwithstanding the strength of the community reaction against it.

Besides, there is a lot more wrong with the bill that the government has shown no sign of giving up on.

The entire history of the Gillard government’s attempt to use anti-discrimination law as a Trojan horse to impose a far-reaching regime of political correctness, which would reach into almost every corner of Australian life, has been marked by deviousness and outright dishonesty.

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