Tougher pollution laws put forward in wake of Palmer Queensland Nickel saga – by Joshua Robertson (The Guardian – March 15, 2016)

Clive Palmer could be forced to shoulder the $100m cost of cleaning up his Queensland Nickel operation under proposed state laws that would expand the chain of corporate responsibility for pollution.

The Palaszczuk government has introduced a bill that would let environmental authorities pursue parent companies, executives or ultimate owners for the cost of rehabilitating industrial sites after the operator collapsed.

The environment minister, Steven Miles, in a speech to parliament on Tuesday, made clear the draft laws – which would apply retrospectively – were prompted by the “unacceptable prospect of the taxpayer being left to clean up after the owner of the Yabulu Nickel refinery”.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society campaign director, Imogen Zethoven, said the bill was “the strongest environmental reform applying to the mining industry in the last 20 years”.

“The mining industry is shedding jobs, and is struggling to turn a profit. There is a high risk that without this new law being passed, Queensland taxpayers will have to pay for massive clean up bills,” she said.

Zethoven called on the LNP opposition and crossbenchers, who hold the balance of power, to support the laws, which “put the environment and the Great Barrier Reef before the mining industry”.

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