SUBJECT/S: Environmental laws, Adani/Carmichael
FAIRFAX ‘BREAKING POLITICS’
WEDNESDAY, 19 AUGUST 2015
CHRIS HAMMER: Michelle Rowland, the government has indicated it wants to move against what it calls the vigilante litigation on environment grounds, on big projects like coal mines. What do you make of this?
MICHELLE ROWLAND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURALISM; SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS: I don’t understand how using existing good law on the statute books could be described in that way. And let’s remember that this is law that was introduced by the then-Minister under the Howard Government. It operated well in that time. There’s a very small number of applications that are made under this section. This is clearly a smokescreen for the government to try and talk about something other than the division and dysfunction that they are already going through.
HAMMER: So you see the motivation behind this move of the government as purely political then, not actually trying to address a specific problem?
ROWLAND: Well there’s nothing based in evidence. We even had a review of public interest provisions of this nature some time ago. I haven’t seen any evidence to demonstrate from anything in those findings that this provision should be substantially amended or repealed. Now the government is arguing it on the basis of the Adani/Carmichael issue. Well the facts are that this was a situation where their own minister bungled the whole process. So what’s going to happen next time one of their other ministers bungles the whole process, are they going to say they need to change the law in that area? This is completely dysfunctional and doesn’t have any bearing in evidence based policy making.
HAMMER: The Australian newspaper this morning has the headline ‘PM wedges Shorten on coal jobs’. Do you see that as the motivation from the government?
ROWLAND: It’s interesting because if the intent here from the government is to wedge, let’s remember the last time they tried to do a wedge. It was on the issue of revoking citizenship. They tried to wedge Labor, they ended up wedging themselves and doing it very publicly and very messily in the process. And we’re seeing that repeating itself. Philip Ruddock was around in that time, he has been outspoken on this matter too and I think he’s absolutely right. So trying to wedge Labor here, they’ve already started wedging themselves.
HAMMER: But is Labor happy then to take on this challenge, to advocate for the existing environmental laws to be portrayed by the government to be on the side of the environmentalist as opposed to workers?
ROWLAND: I don’t think that the facts bear out that this is a matter of environmentalists versus workers. This is a matter of applying good law as it stands today and this is simply another example of this government making it up as they go along. I can just see it, they would have said ‘oh we’re going to talk about jobs today. We’re in trouble in Queensland, we’ve got to have some Queenslanders ask some questions.’ This is not even policy making on the run, there’s no script. This government is in improv night, it’s one long improv night when it was supposed to be good government.
HAMMER: Okay, Michelle Rowland. Thanks for your time.
ROWLAND: My pleasure.