The last approval just before Christmas was for Clive Palmer’s China First project in the Galilee Basin of Queensland by Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
“[Prime Minister] Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt are rushing through environmental approvals at a rate of more than one a day,” Greens leader Christine Milne said.
“They can't hand back approval powers to the states and weaken environmental protection fast enough for their big business mates, so Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt are rushing through projects with a rubber stamp.
“Open for business is just Tony Abbott's code for dig it up, cut it down and ship it away. He doesn't care about protecting the environment.”
Australians should expect governments to closely consider environmental impacts in order to protect threatened species and special places, Milne said.
“Tony Abbott doesn't care. He wants to build massive coal mines, coal ports, gas wells and massive developments as quickly as possible,” she said.
Greens environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters said the Abbott government had snuck out two devastating decisions for the environment very late on the Friday before Christmas – the Surat gas expansion and the China First project.
“With Tony Abbott’s blessing, Clive Palmer’s mine is set to worsen climate change, use the Great Barrier Reef as a shipping highway, clear-fell the last remnant woodland in the region and push a precious endangered finch closer to extinction,” she said.
“Mr Palmer’s mine will rip up the Bimblebox nature refuge, an 8000 hectare patch of remnant native woodland, which provides scarce habitat for native wildlife, including the endangered black-throated finch.
“The condition attached to offset Bimblebox with another area is ridiculous – you can’t offset the loss of the last remaining significant woodland in the Galilee Basin.”