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Green groups perplexed after WA ministers spruik commendation by right-wing think tank

“More recently, the Fraser Institute’s annual survey of mining companies identified WA as the number one place in the world for mining and mineral exploration,” the statement read.

“This is why WA is ideally placed to work with the Commonwealth and lead the nation to deliver this once-in-a-generation reform.”

Wilderness Society WA campaign manager Patrick Gardner thought the mention of the Fraser Institute survey was curious.

“It is a concern that some credence about environmental approvals has been taken by the WA government, based on research from a pro-tobacco, pro-gun libertarian thinktank from Canada,” he said.

“There should be far more attention given to the scientifically-back evidence that our protected species and protected areas of wilderness are under escalating threat.”

Conservation Council of WA spokeswoman Maggie Wood said it was an unusual endorsement to celebrate.

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“This is an organisation that supports tax cuts for the super-rich and giant corporations on one hand, while opposing wage rises for the lowest-paid workers,” she said.

“From their perspective, Western Australia is a great place for mining companies – but what does that say about our native title system, our workplace rights, and our environmental regulations?”

Mr McGowan and the Labor party romped to power in 2017 partly on the back of their environmental credentials and commitment to stop the controversial Roe 8 project.

Mr Dawson declined to comment on why the Fraser Institute’s survey results were included in the government’s statement.

Environmental groups have previously raised concerns about the lack of detail around the bilateral agreement and have warned the state off taking on too much of the “broken” federal system.

“A ‘one-stop-shop’ may sound appealing, but the interim review of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act released in July identified major inadequacies in the Federal system. Western Australia’s approvals process is far from perfect, but it does provide some additional protection,” Ms Wood said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Dawson said discussions regarding the bilateral agreement had started and any draft agreement would need to go out for public comment and be tabled in both houses of Federal Parliament.

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