Australia

Labor questions 'shonky' WA uranium mine deal

Labor is slamming plans for a uranium mine in Western Australia. Source: Supplied

Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten wants to know why Environment Minister Melissa Price approved a controversial WA uranium mine, labelling it a "shonky deal".

Labor leader Bill Shorten says the government has to explain its "shonky" approval for a controversial uranium mine in Western Australia, which occurred the day before the federal election was called.

Canadian-owned Yeelirrie uranium mine, about 500km north of Kalgoorlie, was given the tick of approval by Environment Minister Melissa Price on 10 April, according to an Environment Department document.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison triggered the 18 May election on 11 April.

"This is yet again looking like another shonky deal by this government," Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.

Environment Minister Melissa Price in parliament.
Melissa Price.
AAP

"Pretty big decision. A lot of money at stake. Made in the dead of night, the day before the election's called.

"There are questions for this government to answer."

The Conservation Council of WA and traditional owners are in the midst of a legal fight over the mine after taking their battle to the Court of Appeal last month.

State approval was given just weeks before the WA election in 2017.

The federal government had previously indicated it wouldn't make a decision until the WA appeal was complete.

Spokesman for Environment and Water Tony Burke
Labor's Tony Burke questions timing of approval for controversial WA uranium mine.
AAP

Labor's environment spokesman Tony Burke says no detail is known about the approval and is accusing Ms Price of being in hiding.

"I want to find out what on earth has happened," he told ABC radio.

"You need to know whether the conditions that have been put in place are fair, you need to know whether the environmental assessment has been dealt with rigorously."

Senior government minister Mathias Cormann has claimed the approval was given on 5 March but additional administration meant it wasn't finalised until this month.

"This is business as usual," he told Sky News, adding the mine faced 32 strict environmental conditions.

But Greens senator Jordon Steele-John is calling on Labor to tear up the "absolutely disgraceful" approval if it wins government.

"We cannot have a situation where this mine goes ahead," he told Sky News.

The Minerals Council of Australia has welcomed the approval, saying the project will create jobs in WA and claiming it will help the transition to a lower carbon economy.

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