Bilateral agreement 'revised'

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney

NEVER again will a gigantic project worth billions of dollars be used as a political ping-pong ball between the Queensland and federal governments.

At least that will be the hope after ministers from both sides signed a revised bilateral agreement declaring who would do what when assessing major developments.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke have been battling since late May while the $6.4 billion GVK Hancock Coal project was stuck in limbo.

It had the green light from the state, but a new approval process may be launched by the Federal Government, ensuring costly delays to GVK's construction schedule.

Mr Burke's office believed the state had not properly assessed the proposed coal mine, while Mr Seeney backed the state's work and attacked the Federal Government for playing politics.

On Thursday, Mr Seeney, Mr Burke and State Environment Minister Andrew Powell met in Brisbane to sign the new deal.

"It was clear during the dispute over the Alpha Coal project that the new Queensland Government had fundamentally different expectations of the agreement compared to the Commonwealth," Mr Burke said after the meeting.

The Australian Government will install an officer within the Queensland Government to better ensure the process avoids any pitfalls.

Mr Seeney said the changes would bring certainty to approvals, especially around how long a go-ahead would take.

"This is a clear step forward which will enable Queensland to get on with the job and deliver the best environmental and economic outcomes for the state."

The agreed changes follow meetings between both levels of government.

Topics:  jeff seeney tony burke

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