The plan announced by the federal Labor opposition for Canberra to take over environmental approvals threatens to worsen Australia’s regulatory burden, according to free market think tank Institute of Public Affairs.

“The proposal to water down the existing ‘one stop shop’ environmental approval process is effectively a Canberra takeover of project approvals, especially for larger projects,“ said IPA Senior Fellow Dr Mikayla Novak.

“There are good reasons why current federal policy seeks to accredit state planning systems within national environment law, and why the proposed change will worsen green tape.”

“The first is that Australia is a large country, with unique environmental issues faced by specific regions, and localised policy solutions to these need to be respected by Canberra,” said Dr Novak.

“The second factor is that major project developers, in agriculture, mining and other productive sectors, need swift and uncomplicated environmental approvals to get on with investment and job creation.”

“Another problem is that centralising environmental approvals will serve as an invitation for activists and lawyers to slow down the onset of major projects through frivolous yet costly litigation,” said Dr Novak.

The IPA has shown the economic cost of regulation stands at $176 billion, or 11 per cent of GDP, with environmental regulations undoubtedly accounting for a major part of this total.

“For a more agile Australian economy we need to reduce green tape costs on new ventures, rather than worsen them for the sake of an ideological mission to hand all policy control to Canberra.”