Today’s announcement that the Productivity Commission will conduct a 12-month review aimed at streamlining regulation in the resources sector shows the Federal Government is listening to regional communities who want the jobs and prosperity created by Australia’s world-leading minerals industry.
Australia’s minerals sector stands for investment, jobs and giving back to regional communities, based on a sensible and commonsense approach to regulation.
The minerals industry does not want to diminish environmental safeguards or standards, but a more efficient process is needed to meet regulatory objectives through removal of duplicative and unnecessary processes which do not enhance environmental outcomes.
Our nation also needs to stay ahead of fierce competition so Australian states win back their place in the top ten mining jurisdictions across the globe.
Faster approvals for mining projects and greater certainty of process will support more highly paid, highly skilled jobs across Australia.
In recent times, regional communities and our minerals companies have been frustrated by long delays for projects such as Adani Carmichael (QLD, eight years), Wallarah 2 (NSW, 16 years) and Cameco Yeelirrie (WA, five years).
The MCA looks forward to outlining how our world-leading approach to community partnerships can be supported by a more streamlined approvals process.
It is also important to ensure the benefits of development are widely shared, noting that Australian minerals companies paid $30.6 billion in company tax and royalties in 2017-18 – the equivalent of all Federal Government spending on Australian schools, universities and vocational training.
This new review should take into account the Commission’s previous work as well as research by the Commission of Audit and the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission.
It should also include the regulatory performance of Australia’s competitors – not just comparable economies – to hold state governments to account for their continued decline in competitiveness, measured through independent analysis by the Fraser Institute.
All governments should work together to end the duplication and overlap between environmental regulations and introduce risk-based approaches for assessments and approvals.
These reforms have the potential to unlock up to $170 billion of resources investment in Australia, enabling the minerals industry to play an even bigger role in supporting and strengthening regional communities.