Cover Story – Interaction with Ministers

By on January 18, 2016

DR ELIZABETH GIBSON, General Manager of the CMPA provides a summary of issues concerning the future of quarrying in Victoria.

Letters to the State Government 

A number of issues have recently arisen that gives grave concern to the Secretariat about the future of quarrying in Victoria. From the reform of the Earth Resources Regulator, to being inadvertently caught up in the potential recommendations from the 2nd Hazelwood mine fire inquiry.


Catchment Management Authority and quarrying on a flood plain A Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has taken a philosophical dislike to quarrying of sand and gravel on flood plains. The CMA in question conducted a risk assessment of quarrying on flood plains that was sent to the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR). This led to the Earth Resources Regulator (ERR), DEDJTR’s blanket acceptance of the report and the subsequent issuing of Section 110 Notices requiring the work authority holder to take action or stop work under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act (MRSDA). Approximately ten quarries were named in the report. The report is alarmist and flawed in a number of areas but repeated calls for a review of the report by an independent expert for ERR have been ignored.  This issue was discussed at the last CMPA Management Committee meeting where a decision was made to write to the Minister for Energy and Resources, The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio and the Minister for Environment Climate Change and Water, The Hon Lisa Neville highlighting the concerns with the report.

As such, letters were written to the Ministers and sent on 14 September 2015 that detailed some of the flaws with the report, such as, to not carry out quarrying within 100 metres of a flood plain, nor below the depth of the river and to conduct modelling for a 1 in 1000 year rain event. The letters were marked urgent, however, no response from either Minister has yet been received at the time of writing this piece. Repeated calls have been made to the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water’s office but the Secretariat has been told to wait for a few more weeks!

There is no sense of urgency within the bureaucracy that deals with Ministers’ correspondence despite the fact that peoples livelihoods are at risk. In many cases generations of effort are lost at the stroke of a pen.

A subsequent draft report on the rehabilitation of the quarries that was written by the CMA talks in terms of rehabilitation required of the order of up to $15 million for an individual site. This is clearly impractical and unsustainable. If the report/draft reports are accepted and applied to all sand and gravel quarries on flood plains in Victoria there will be a severe shortage of construction material which will negatively impact the economy.

Meeting with Minister for Energy and Resources –  The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio

The CMPA (Garry Cranny, Chairperson; Ron Kerr, Honorary CEO; and Dr Elizabeth Gibson, General Manager) was pleased to meet with the Minister for Energy and Resources, The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio and her advisor Sara Williams on 1 October 2015. The Minister stated that she would like to see a modernised Regulator that is responsive to industry and the community and mentioned the Auditor General’s 2012 Report on “Effectiveness of Compliance Activities in DPI”. She was also of the view that the Regulator needs to be trusted and is determined in achieving this objective. A review into reforming the Regulator is currently underway.

The CMPA mentioned the “Supply and Demand of Extractive Resources” Project as a worthwhile undertaking.

Issues raised by the CMPA

  • The lack of acceptance or recognition by the local planning authority of endorsed work plans and whether the planning permit should be obtained first. Planning Practice Notes are being developed within DEDJTR but have yet to be issued. 
  • Separation of mines from quarries in the legislation.
  • The disconnect between Government aspirations for State growth and support/capacity for the extractive industries to match current and future State growth forecasts.
  • The introduction of the risk based work plan and lack of a regulatory impact statement being conducted despite acknowledgement by policy officers that the cost of undertaking a risk based work plan was expected to increase.


The Minister will give due consideration to the issue of separation of Mines from Quarries in the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act.

In conclusion, the meeting was found to be informative and productive and the CMPA looks forward to the Minister’s consideration of the issues raised and to continuing to work collaboratively with the Minister.

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