Abbott crows about Libs' environmental credentials

Tony Abbott will today commit a Coalition government to streamlining approvals for environmentally sensitive projects, in a speech that pitches the Opposition Leader having a lifelong interest in preserving the environment.

''We're all environmentalists now,'' he says in what is being promoted as a landmark speech.

''The challenge is to support smart ways to protect the environment, not dumb ones.''

He will emphasise that his signature policies for the next election remain ''direct action'' to reduce carbon emissions and a proposed ''green army'' for the environment.

Mr Abbott will build on steps taken at last week's COAG meeting to reduce duplication and delays in approving projects.

That meeting gave the federal government final approvals for developments in World Heritage areas and ''high-risk'' projects.


Business leaders and premiers had been demanding cuts to green tape.

Mr Abbott will promise to simplify the approvals process.

''As [the Business Council of Australia has] recommended, the Coalition will offer state and territory governments the opportunity to act as a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals,'' he says.

''Should they accept, the states and territories would administer a single approvals process including approvals under Commonwealth legislation such as the EPBC Act.

''For some projects, such as major offshore developments, the states and territories may prefer to have the Commonwealth as the sole, designated assessor.

''States and territories that agreed to be part of this one-stop-shop process should have a significant advantage attracting investment.

''This one-stop-shop approvals process should also be accompanied by deadlines for decision-making with penalties if these are breached, such perhaps, as partial reimbursement of lodgement fees.

''Environmental standards should be clear, assessment processes should be swift, and decisions should be unambiguous.

''Approvals have to be final, subject to an equally clear and consistent formal review mechanism.

''They can't be at the mercy of last-minute lobbying by campaigners lest Australia start to lose the investment, the jobs and the wealth upon which lasting and sustainable environmental outcomes depend.''

Mr Abbott will promote the Coalition's green credentials, pointing to past decisions by Coalition governments to create Kakadu National Park and end whaling in Australia.

He accuses the Labor government of focusing on the carbon tax to the exclusion of other environmental issues.

''The Coalition intends to get the balance right. As well as taking direct action to reduce emissions, the Coalition will directly deal with issues like invasive species, habitat protection, and soil and water conservation,'' he says.

Mr Abbott also talks about playing as a child in Lane Cove National Park, sleeping under the stars, canoeing trips and surfing.