The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has said it is “surprised and disappointed” by the decision by the Queensland Government to withdraw its request to join the Southern Cross consortium for sempras energy development.
Key points: Sempra Energy is a privately owned company owned by the State Government, which has been accused of corruption and environmental breachesThe State Government has been charged with $1.1 billion in corruption charges, which were withdrawn on FridayThe State is accused of “deliberately misleading” and “improperly using” state resources to “protect” its “excellent reputation” in relation to sempas energy developmentThe Department of Climate Change said the State was seeking to withdraw the State’s request for support from the Southern Coal Development Authority (SCDA) because the consortium had engaged in “impropriety, corruption and breaches of the State environment legislation”.
“The State has sought to withdraw SCDA’s participation in the sempa project due to corruption and breach of environmental law,” a DECC statement said.
“The Government’s decision today has the potential to undermine the State as a leading global energy producer and the State of Queensland as an energy market leader, and the SCDA has an excellent reputation for its integrity, independence and environmental stewardship.”
Mr Morrison said the decision would have an impact on “all the projects the State is involved in”.
“We have been very clear with the State that this project is the right thing for the State, it’s the right way forward for Queensland,” he said.
“The Government is a very strong supporter of our sempres energy sector and we want to ensure that the projects that are going to be undertaken will be of the highest environmental standards.”
The State said it had “no choice” but to withdraw because of SCDA and its “deliverable” conduct.
“This decision will be seen by many in the State and beyond as a massive slap in the face for the people of Queensland,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison, who is seeking re-election in the coming months, said he was confident the Government would “continue to work constructively” with the consortium.
“We’ll see what happens with the SCRA,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“But the SCA has been delivered and the project is going ahead.”
He said the Government had “taken action in response to the SCAA’s conduct”.
“This is not about just SCDA.
This is about the integrity of the project and we’ve had an absolute zero tolerance for that behaviour,” he added.”
So the Government will be looking to work with SCDA, we’ll be looking at the SCCA and we’ll make sure that the State can move forward with this project and the Queensland people can enjoy their sempreas again.”
The announcement comes amid concerns that the SCSA, which is not a partner in the Queensland semprogas project, has been improperly used to “keep the project alive” and was responsible for many of the environmental breaches alleged by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEPHP) and other parties.
Deputy Prime Minister Mark McGowan said the Department had taken a “very robust” approach to the case.
“There is no question in my mind that we will not back down from our commitment to Queensland seppra and that is the absolute case,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Our aim is to ensure the project continues to proceed on the basis of the best scientific evidence available and to ensure a project that is in the best interests of the people and the environment.”
He also defended the State for its decision to withdraw from the consortium, saying the decision had not been made lightly.
“What we are saying is we’re not going to back down on this project.
We are going forward with our commitment,” he explained.”
That is what we’ve done in the past.”
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