Member’s Statement – McGowan intervention in EPA
14 September 2023
I couldn’t let this parliamentary week come to a close without mentioning one of the most explosive political revelations this week, when the former head of WA’s Environmental Protection Authority, Dr Tom Patton, admitted publicly what everybody already suspected.
Back in 2019 Premier Mark McGowan personally pressured the EPA to withdraw updated, tougher greenhouse gas emissions guidelines.
With this one phone call, former Premier Mark McGowan not only scuttled new climate change rules that would have given the EPA greater powers to force fossil fuel companies to cut emissions in Western Australia.
But, with this one phone call he also compromised the independence of the EPA itself.
This has led this week to Greenpeace and others to call for Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to carry out an independent assessment of Woodside’s North West Shelf project in light of the claims.
Quote from Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Clean Energy Transition Jess Panegyres said
“There are now serious questions being raised about the independence of the WA EPA. In light of the perception of compromised independence and the staggering emissions from this project, we believe it must be subject to an independent Federal assessment. Decisions this big cannot be left to a body that’s former chief has alleged is subject to serious interference,”
Woodside’s North West Shelf Extension is the biggest new fossil fuel project in Australia which would see WA’s oldest and most polluting gas plant operate until 2070, contributing 4.3 billion tonnes equal to 9 years of Australia’s total emissions.
Following the transparency laws that we moved in June and debated today:
- Revolving door
- When he retired in 2021, former Treasurer Ben Wyatt walked straight into a job at Woodside.
- Similarly, Mark McGowan walked straight into a job with BHP after resigning as Premier in June this year.
- Also must reform political donations
As we face the huge transition demanded by the global climate emergency we need should be doing everything we can to safeguard the integrity of our decision-making processes, the independence of the EPA and others and makes sure that we eliminate any possibility for corporations to buy political influence.
Anything else jeopardises our very future.