Abbott attacks carbon pricing laws
OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has outlined plans to build a "Green Army" should the Coalition win the next election.
Mr Abbott used an address to the Australian Industry Group in Brisbane on Friday to sell his green credentials and attack Labor's carbon pricing laws, due to come into effect on July 1.
He told the function his Green Army would be a "larger and more lasting version of the former Green Corps".
"Should we win the next election, the Coalition will create and properly resource the Green Army ... and over time build it up to be 15,000 strong. It will be Australia's largest-ever environmental deployment," he said.
"It will mark the first time that Australia has approached environmental remediation with the same seriousness and level of organisation that we have long brought to bushfire preparedness and other local and regional priorities.
"This workforce will be capable of supplying the skilled, motivated and sustained attention that large-scale environmental remediation needs.
"The Green Army will be available on an ongoing basis - over and above the existing efforts of councils, farmers, volunteers and national parks personnel - to tackle the environmental tasks that most urgently need willing hands to do the job."
Mr Abbott also outlined plans for a "one-stop-shop" for environmental approvals, continuing the theme from last week's Council of Australian Governments meeting to reduce "green tape".
"Should they accept, the states and territories would administer a single approvals process including approvals under Commonwealth legislation such as the EPBC Act," he said.
"For some projects, such as major offshore developments, the states and territories may prefer to have the Commonwealth as the sole, designated assessor.
"In addition to a single assessment process, a Coalition government would seek to create a single lodgement and documentation process for environmental approvals.
"States and territories that agree to be part of this one-stop-shop process should have a significant advantage attracting investment.
"Engendering competition between the states would be a way to make Australia's federal system work for us rather than against us. "
Mr Abbott said local government would also have the option to adopt the one-stop-shop plan.
"This one-stop-shop process should also be accompanied by deadlines for decision-making with penalties if these are breached such, perhaps, as partial reimbursement of lodgement fees," he added.
Mr Abbott also used the address to repeat his often-made promise to repeal the legislation as the "first thing" he would do in government.
And he said he would not hesitate to call a double dissolution election if the Greens and Labor blocked the move in the Senate.
"Indeed, it would be my duty to do so," Mr Abbott said.
"The next Coalition government will repeal the carbon tax as quickly as possible and, because the electorate would double-punish the Labor Party for wilful obstruction, I expect that the repeal arrangements would be in place within six months.
"I won't reduce the tax, change the tax, or redesign the tax. I will repeal the tax."