The federal government says it is close to signing its first agreement with a state government to implement its "one-stop-shop" policy for environmental approvals.
The approach promises to maintain environmental standards while cutting red tape and streamlining approval processes for businesses.
The government hopes to sign a memorandum of understanding with each of the "willing states" wanting to work cooperatively towards a simplified process.
Work already has begun with the states in drafting the first memorandum and the government hopes the first one will be signed shortly by the prime minister and respective premier, however, specific details were not provided.
The government has offered to send staff to the states to assist with the implementation of the new approvals regime.
The Australian Greens said handing environmental approval powers to the states would put ‘‘negligent state cronies’’ in charge of protecting national icons like the Great Barrier Reef.
Greens environment spokesperson Larissa Waters said under state and territory law, only one set of documents were required for environmental assessments for both the state and federal level.
‘‘The duplication argument that Mr Abbott and his big business buddies are pushing as justification for his environmental vandalism is a complete furphy,’’ Senator Waters said in a statement.
She said the proposal would actually be bad for business, because it would create varying standards across the country that could not be enforced at a federal level.