Cover Story – Compliance Program

By on April 5, 2016

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of the CMPA reports on the progress by ERR on Improving the Regulation of the Earth Resources Sector.

There has been some progress towards implementation of the Action Plan for Earth Resources Regulation (ERR), Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) that was developed as a result of a statement of expectations from the Minister for Energy and Resources The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP on improving the regulation of the earth resources sector (see CMPA issue 84). There have been three documents released for comment:

  • Draft Client Service Standard
  • Draft ERR Compliance Strategy
  • Draft Stakeholder Engagement Strategy

Draft Client Service Standard
The Draft Client Service Standard (Standard) was developed as a result of the government’s objective to improve ERR standard of service. Obviously, this is a worthy objective. The following is an extract from the draft Standard.

“What you can expect:

  • To be engaged in a timely and meaningful way during the application process.
  • That decision making processes and assessment criteria are publically available.
  • To understand ERR’s decision making roles and responsibilities.
  • To access decision making procedures.
  • To understand the administration of the legislation and how it is applied.
  • To be treated with respect by ERR staff at all times.
  • To be engaged through a range of tools.
  • To be actively listened to.
  • Your feedback relating to an earth resources application, project or issue to be considered.
  • That your information is kept confidential and private.
  • The ERR measure and review this Standard regularly.
  • That ERR will investigate every complaint you make and advise you of the outcome.”

The following are comments made by CMPA on the draft Standard:

  • To be engaged in a “timely and meaningful way during the application process”. A definition of timely and meaningful is required. A good start would be to have an acknowledgement of receipt of documents, emails etc. within 48 hours with a maximum of a 2 week response time on the issue.
  • The figure of 95% response rate is quoted for tenement related applications within the timeframe set (28 days or 1 month). The figure should be 100% due to being a legislative requirement. Additionally, there is lack of clarity around the triggers for stopping, resetting and restarting the timeframe together with the absence of an appeal mechanism when this occurs.
  • The Standard would be greatly improved by identifying how ERR will ensure statutory time frames for referral authorities are met.

The draft Standard sets out information on the statutory timeframes for decision making on extractive industry applications which ERR administers. There is also a commitment to administering applications without statutory time frames in a timely manner. The draft Standard will be used by ERR as one of the bench marks for measuring their performance.

Draft ERR Compliance Strategy

The purpose of the draft ERR Compliance Strategy (the Strategy) is as follows:

“The purpose of the ERR Compliance Strategy (the Strategy) is to outline how ERR will encourage, monitor and enforce compliance.

It describes what ERR will do to develop a prevention culture for nuisance issues, non-compliances and incidents within industry. The Strategy also describes how ERR staff will work in a professional, modern and transparent manner to give government and stakeholders confidence in the work of the branch. By publishing the Strategy, ERR aims to provide clarity to industry, local communities and other government agencies what the ERR does and why.”

CMPA added, as well as ERR staff being “professional, modern and transparent” they should also be timely and consistent.

The table (below) from the draft Strategy lists the enforcement tools:

Table showing Draft Compliance Tools

Draft Compliance Tools

The final ERR Compliance Strategy is due to be released, shortly, where any major changes from the draft Strategy will be outlined in Sand & Stone issue 86.

Draft Stakeholder Engagement Strategy 2016-2018

The draft Stakeholder Engagement Strategy 2016-2018 (Engagement Strategy) focuses on “effective structured engagement which is proactive on matters of concern to industry, landholders, co-regulators and the community.” It was released on 16 March 2016 and comments are due by 16 May 2016. The Engagement Strategy is available at http://www.energyandresources.vic.gov.au/earth-resourcesregulation/about-us/earth-resources-regulations-stakeholderengagement-strategy.

CMPA will be making a submission and will report on it in the next issue of Sand & Stone. Members may make a submission directly to ERR or through CMPA.

 

 

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