QLD closing costly loopholes
The Queensland Government has passed laws to avoid having to pick up the tab when big firms fail.
The Government will be able to pursue parent companies or executive officers for environmental cleanup costs under the new state laws.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said it would mean that taxpayers no longer have to fork out for multi-million-dollar clean-up bills when dodgy businesses close or enter into liquidation.
Before the new laws passed, regulators only dealt with the actual holder of environmental authority, but they can now go further.
“Ideally I would see this new legislation sit unused, collecting dust on a shelf somewhere,” Mr Miles said.
“But given the reckless behaviour of some companies, the Queensland Government will not hesitate to make polluters pay if it becomes necessary."
Queensland taxpayers are currently facing a $93-million bill for the tailings dams and environmental damage left at Clive Palmer's Yabulu refinery near Townsville.
Member for Hinchinbrook Andrew Cripps, whose electorate contains the refinery, says he is horrified that taxpayers could have to pay for the mess.
“It will be placed at risk if the hazardous materials that are currently stored on that site are not managed properly or that site is not rehabilitated comprehensively,” he said.
“That site contains hazardous materials that have been accumulating potentially since the nickel refinery commenced operations in 1974.”
Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the legislation would mean nothing for most miners.
“It's aimed at those who seek to avoid their responsibilities,” he said.
“It's not aimed at the majority of mining companies that take responsibility.”