The majority voted in favour of a motion to pass the bill in the House of Representatives. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill for a third time. This means the bill will now be sent to the Senate for their consideration.
There was some controversy in the House due to the speed with which the bill was passed.
What does this bill do?
Due to the speed with which the bill is moving through Parliament, there are no parliamentary library summaries available on what the bill does. We only have the explanatory memorandum, which is a Government-produced document and therefore politically biased. According to the memorandum:
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020 (the Bill) facilitates the legally robust devolution of environmental approvals to the States and Territories.
The Act already provides for devolution of environmental assessments and approvals through bilateral agreements with the States and Territories. Bilateral agreements avoid regulatory duplication by creating a single environmental assessment and approval process for nationally protected matters. The two types of bilateral agreements provided for under the Act are:
Assessment bilateral agreements - a State or Territory is accredited to assess the environmental impacts of project proposals on behalf of the Commonwealth, which is then used by the Commonwealth to decide whether or not to approve a project.
Approval bilateral agreements - a State or Territory is accredited to assess and approve or refuse to approve project proposals.
The Bill will make technical amendments to the existing provisions of the Act relating to bilateral agreements to support the efficient, effective and enduring operation of bilateral agreements.
In other words, the main aim of the bill is to give greater environmental approval powers to the states and territories rather than the federal government. Researchers and environmental groups are concerned that this will further weaken protections.