The Queensland government has warned a squabble with Canberra over environmental approval for the $6.4 billion Alpha coal mine project could continue indefinitely.
The federal government on Tuesday suspended the approval process for the project with Environment Minister Tony Burke furiously accusing the state government of creating a shambolic process.
The first coal mine in the resources-rich Galilee Basin already has the approval of the state’s coordinator-general, but not the Commonwealth’s tick.
Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said Mr Burke was trying to “back peddle” on a COAG deal to streamline environmental processes by not meeting a 30-day approval deadline on other projects.
“We just want to see this project treated fairly,” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.
“What we’ve got here is a delay that could go on indefinitely.”
Mr Seeney accused Mr Burke of acting irresponsibly.
He defended the Queensland environmental approval process, saying it did look at the project’s impact on marine life.
But it was a minor part of the project, which is 500km from the coast.
Mr Seeney said the approval process had examined how a new rail loop line at the Abbot Point port would affect marine life.
“The much bigger issues relate to issues that are a long, long way inland,” he said.