LNG approval faces delay

GLADSTONE could wait longer before a final announcement about two liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects with the reshuffle of Federal Government ministers on the weekend.

Former Environment Minister Peter Garrett, who had announced he had sought an additional three months to complete his assessments of the Santos and BG LNG projects in Gladstone and offshore at Curtis Island, has been reallocated to children and education portfolios.

The extension of the deadline meant the assessments, which Mr Garrett received at the end of June, won't be handed down until October 11.

Gladstone Industry Leader Group chief executive officer Kurt Hiedecker said there was uncertainty surrounding the projects, which was affecting business decisions, particularly the LNG companies.

“The industry groups can't make their final decisions until such time as the Federal Government makes their decision,” he said.

Mr Hiedecker said it was causing delays in construction and commencement of other parts of the projects.

“It makes it very hard to plan when this uncertainty is in the mix,” he said.

“People are keen to go, but can't until that announcement is made. We are just holding our breath.”

The newly allocated Environment Minister Tony Burke has yet to be sworn in and receive information on the projects.

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts said the department will brief Minister Burke as soon as possible on upcoming decisions under national environment law. The due date for a final decision on the Santos and British Gas LNG proposals remains October 11.

Efforts to contact Mr Burke's office for comment went unanswered by the time The Observer went to print yesterday.

Another change in the cabinet line-up included Simon Crean having portfolios for Employment and Workplace Relations; Education; and Social Inclusion swapped for Regional Australia; Regional Development and Local Government; and the Arts.

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