From the Secretariat (Issue 121)

By on April 5, 2022

MRSDA Reform


The Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (MRSDA) reform proposed by Earth Resources (Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions, Victorian Government) created much consternation and discussion at the CMPA Management Committee in February 2022.

The Management Committee is not convinced that the proposals by Earth Resources are in the best interests of CMPA Members:

• Removing the requirement of work plan statutory endorsement and instead going straight to the Local Government Authority (LGA) for a planning permit.

• Introduction of a Duty model similar to that introduced by WorkSafe and more recently by the Environment Protection Authority.

A number of meetings have been held with senior public servants in DJPR and DELWP. We are in furious agreement that the current approvals process is restricting supply of construction materials to market.

However, there are benefits to having a statutory endorsed
work plan:

• Statutory endorsement was introduced in 2012 to bolster the strength of the endorsement process previously carried out as an administrative function. The second reading speeches for the introduction of statutory endorsement all talk to this being a streamlining of the referral process and a necessary change to reduce the workload on the LGAs without watering down their powers. That is to say, the use of the government’s experts to inform the proponent before the application reaches LGA and community. In turn, this should provide the LGA and community with confidence of the technical abilities of an application or variation.  

The major change being proposed to the MRSDA is that a planning permit is applied for from the LGAs first. Earth Resources Regulation would no longer have a role in statutory endorsement. There are numerous examples
of new quarries and work plan variations unable to obtain their planning permits due to a vocal minority of objectors in the respective LGA. The changes being proposed do not address this issue.

The Management Committee remains unconvinced that leaving the approval stage with the LGAs, (even with them “bound” to consider only certain matters) the major hurdle of obtaining a Planning Permit has not been mitigated.

As such, CMPA is not supportive of the proposed reforms in their current format as it is believed that not only are they unlikely to achieve the stated goals of the reforms, but they may actually deliver poorer outcomes than the system they replace.

Whilst CMPA appreciates that there is much work to be done on the detail we have enough real world experience with the other stakeholders in the process to know that what is fundamentally the same process in a different order is unlikely to produce a better outcome. There are concerns also about the other key planks of the reforms such as the adoption of the duty based model and the abdicating of the Regulators responsibility by the ‘educating’ of Local Government Authority’s staff to assess applications will most likely result in the reduction of the relevancy or necessity of the ERR for extractives which CMPA believes is not a positive outcome for the extractive industry.

The CMPA is still open to consultation with the Minister for Resources The Hon Jaala Pulford, MP and DJPR; and will report on any developments in the next issue of Sand & Stone.

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