A one-stop-shop for environmental approval for major construction projects in Australia would be created under a plan the Coalition says would see both the carbon tax and the resource rent tax scrapped and would slash $1 billion from business regulation costs annually.

Announcing the plan on Monday, the Coalition says it will also set aside specific parliamentary days to focus solely on legislation regarding red tape and green tape reduction and would tie the remuneration of senior public servants to reductions in business administration costs and procedures relating to approval processes and other compliance costs.

In a statement, the Coalition says too many construction projects are being weighed down in unnecessary regulation.

Citing Minerals Council of Australia figures, it says average approval times for new thermal coal projects sit at 3.1 years – almost double the international average (1.8 years).

Last week, Mauls Creek (NSW) project owner Whitehaven Coal said the entire approval process for its $767 million development had taken three years and cost ‘tens of millions of dollars’.

Key elements of the plan include:

  • Repealing the carbon tax and the Minerals Resource Rent Tax
  • Establishing a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals for major projects
  • Linking remuneration of public servants to proven reductions in red tape and green tape
  • Undertaking an audit of all environmental legislation and regulation at state and federal level
  • Setting aside two parliamentary days each year to deal specifically with red-tape and green tape regulation
  • Reporting to Parliament annually on red and green tape reduction
  • Creating dedicated units within each department to focus on red and green tape reduction.

Building industry groups welcomed the policy, saying a raft of new legislation introduced over recent years had added a significant compliance burden on the sector.

“The building and construction industry is one of the most intensely regulated industries in Australia, with legislation and red tape applied at all three levels of Government” Master Builders Australia Chief Executive Wilhelm Harnisch says.

“Time spent dealing with red tape and duplicative compliance processes diverts precious resources from the industry and stops it from doing what it does best – creating jobs, driving the economy and building homes, hospitals, schools roads and other vital community infrastructure.”

Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Officer Innes Wilox says new requirements for a Regulatory Impact Statement and a cost-benefit analysis prior to the introduction of new regulation would be a step welcomed across the country.