Newman calls for power to approve coal projects

THE Galilee Basin is at the centre of another emerging stoush between Queensland and the incoming Federal Government, as state premier Campbell Newman demands the power to approve multi-billion-dollar coal projects.

The Alpha coal project from GVK Hancock was the subject of a long-running skirmish between the Queensland and former federal governments before being approved late last year.

Premier Newman is now pushing Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott to allow states to give the go-ahead on major developments.

Earlier this week, Mr Newman told ABC Radio his first conversation with Mr Abbott was telling him to "get out of the way" of Galilee approvals.

"(Galilee projects) will see thousands of jobs created over the next few years, and billions of dollars of investment in the state," Mr Newman said.

Coalition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the new government was committed to a "one-stop shop" approach for the states.

Labor and the Greens oppose the plan, warning that relaxing approvals could deliver widespread environmental damage.

Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the mines would destroy Queensland's environment and vowed to fight any legislation that would give Premier Newman the final say.

It is so far unclear whether proposed changes would allow state control even when water is at risk, rules backed by then-Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce.

Large mining or gas projects that risk water supplies activate a "water trigger" that automatically required they are considered by the Commonwealth.

This would apply to all seven multi-billion-dollar coal mines plotted for the basin.

Together, they have the capacity to pump out a total of 280 million tonnes of coal per year.

Whether this water trigger would also be given to the states to control is currently unclear.

The Commonwealth would always retain the power to call-in any approval process if it saw fit.

Both state and federal governments claim any approval would only be given under strict environmental conditions.



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