Election promises on resources sector might be constitutionally impossible says politics professor


June 01, 2016 14:49:55

A West Australian politics professor has warned election commitments for the resources sector might not be practically possible.

Dr Martin Drum, from the University of Notre Dame, said states were responsible for their resources, putting them outside of federal jurisdiction.

“Most developmental approvals happen through state governments, through state environmental and development applications,” he said.

“There is some limited jurisdiction for the Federal Government under the Federal Environmental Act, which allows it to block specific proposals, but only if the environmental approvals come under their jurisdiction though.”

The Greens have vowed to ban any new coal mines if the party entered into a power-sharing arrangement in the new parliament.

But Dr Drum doubts the commitment would ever come to reality.

“I think it would be difficult that on a really broad level,” he said.

They’re banking on the voters not fully understanding or appreciating the differences between state and federal governments.

Dr Martin Drum, University of Notre Dame

“There’s a range of state legislation that would need to be considered, and it would probably end up in the High Court in terms of interpreting the Commonwealth jurisdiction.”

The Labor Party has pledged to expand so-called water-trigger legislation to include all unconventional gas extraction.

It’s a measure Dr Drum said would also be difficult to implement.

“It would be difficult for blanket bans on whole industries, or a whole range of activities under the Federal Environmental Act,” he said.

“They could find specific issues with individual developmental proposals, or certain types of developmental proposals, but it would be very difficult to rule out whole sectors of the economy.”












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