Barnett's State Agreements rushed, anti-competitive, and undemocratic

3rd December 2010 - The rushed passage through of eleven amended State Agreements in one day has cast a spotlight on the State Government’s bludgeoning of parliamentary process and its desperation for the $350 million gift associated with the passage of this legislation, Greens MLC Robin Chapple said today.

“The government called a Special Sitting of Parliament in the expectation of ramming these amendments, which total well over a thousand pages of complex detail, down the throat of the Legislative Council in a single day,” Mr. Chapple said.

 “The Government were only able to brief the Greens and the ALP a day and a half prior to the sitting.   I have been informed that National Party MLCs – the Government’s own partners – were in the same boat.”

The Iron Ore Agreement Legislation Amendment (No.2) Bill 2010 is intended to facilitate infrastructure sharing between mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP in areas covered by existing State Agreements between the State and those companies.

Mr Chapple said that whilst he supported infrastructure sharing and improving rail synergies in the Pilbara, this was just between the majors and did not address the needs of the NW Iron Ore Alliance and the emerging iron industries.

“This is an unprincipled abuse of the Parliamentary process,” Mr Chapple said. “Any item of legislation this complex and with such import for the State should reasonably be scrutinised by the relevant Standing Committee.”

“Instead we have been given one sitting day to examine one of the most important bills of the year, with the Government refusing to allow a committee review.

“This is all the more disturbing given that the Government has openly acknowledged that these amendments were written in conjunction with BHP and Rio Tinto lawyers and not just by the Department of State Development.

“There are clauses in these amendments that raise serious competition policy concerns.  I have been contacted by numerous junior miners in the North West and they are fully expecting to be frozen out of infrastructure across the region by the majors.

“These amendments presented an opportunity to enable local government to apply rates to BHP and Rio Tinto. This has been missed."

“Is there anywhere else in the democratic world where the big end of town can sit down and amend legislation as they please whilst the Government prevents detailed Parliamentary scrutiny?”

“This sounds like a story out of a banana republic, not an advanced democracy.”


For more information please contact Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263 or 9486 8255

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