The business community has risen up against “green tape”, asking Julia Gillard and the premiers to scrap “futile” green energy schemes and warning environmental regulations are jeopardising $900 billion in resources and infrastructure projects.
The Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) yesterday called on the Prime Minister and state leaders to reduce regulation.
In a rare show of unity, the business groups issued a paper ahead of tomorrow’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Business Advisory Forum which outlines how COAG can lift national competitiveness and productivity, with green tape a key issue.
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The forum will be attended by the Prime Minister and state leaders alongside business heads including BHP Billiton’s Marius Kloppers, Rio Tinto’s David Peever, Telstra’s David Thodey, Wesfarmers’ Richard Goyder and Pacific Brands chairman James MacKenzie.
The trio of business groups said the Government should scrap the double handling of environmental assessments on projects between the commonwealth and the states, fast-track approvals for major projects by quarantining some areas for resources exploration and exempt light industrial and residential developments from costly assessment processes.
The paper gives an example of one company which reported that complying with the Energy Efficiency Opportunities Act required 660 employee hours with $480,000 of consultancy fees.
The business groups claim over 240 federal and state policies administered through different agencies relate to energy efficiency and climate change.
Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), told SmartCompany green tape is a significant issue for businesses.
“There are excessive delays in environmental approvals and there are higher costs in relation to energy schemes,” says Anderson.
“The carbon tax is not good for business, but if we are going to have a carbon tax we should eliminate all of the other costly green energy schemes which have already added to Australia having uncompetitive energy costs and soaring electricity prices.
Anderson points to a report by the Energy Users Association which was published two weeks ago and claims in 12 months Australia will have the highest energy costs of the developed world.
“We have trashed our historic competitive advantage over low cost energy and we are adding to that problem by maintaining green energy programs at a state government level at the same time as a federal carbon tax is being introduced,” says Anderson.
“It is imperative that governments both federal and state recognise that excessive energy costs caused by well-intended but futile green energy schemes will erode industry competitiveness.”
“The business organisations have an opportunity at the first COAG business forum tomorrow to put a clear statement to the federal and state leaders of our nation that they need to work cohesively to reduce the cost of business regulation, especially where it is unable to achieve its objective.”
“The renewable energy scheme and other costly state schemes now need to be subsumed by the overarching federal government carbon price if that is to occur.”