Tony Burke
Tony Burke Karleila Thomsen

Burke launches attack on Qld govt

FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke has threatened to take over the Queensland environmental approvals process, suspending the state from a national bilateral agreement on the environment.

If he delivers on the threat, it could lead to the $6.4 billion Alpha project, Queensland's largest proposed coal mine, being delayed several months, if not a year.

Mr Burke launched an extraordinary attack on the Queensland Government on Tuesday following a week of uncertainty over the state's approval of the Alpha mine.

"We have had a week of ridiculous behaviour from the Newman government on environmental approvals," Mr Burke said.

The minister will write to the Queensland government on Tuesday outlining his plans to exercise a little-used part of the Environmental Protection, Biodiversity and Conservation Act to suspend the approval process.

He said staff in the Federal Environment Department would meet with the project's proponents, Indian energy conglomerate GVK, on Tuesday to start a federal approval process.

"It's important we do the work that Campbell Newman could not be bothered doing," Mr Burke said.

He hit out at what he variously described as an inadequate, shambolic and abysmal referral of an environmental approval to his office.

Mr Burke said he was willing to suspend Queensland from an agreement reached between most states for a new streamlined environmental process.

"We all know what you do on land has an impact off the coast when you take into account water run-off and the other effects of developments," he said.

"The coordinator-general's report simply did not take into account the known habitats of dugongs, dolphins, turtles and whales in the area."

Mr Newman was in parliament during Mr Burke's verbal attack.

When he was made aware of the tirade he took to the despatch box to launch a response.

"Minister Burke wants to shut the resources industry down in Queensland," the Premier said.

He accused Mr Burke of siding with radical green groups, and highlighted the support that the former Queensland premier Anna Bligh and Federal Labor government gave to the resources sector.

Mr Burke said he did not want to be party to an inadequate decision that could later be appealed in court.

"For me to have approved the applications as it stands would be nothing short of environmental vandalism," he said.

"I am not going to be part of the shambolic operation in Queensland, so I am today announcing I am willing to stop the clock on this application."


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