FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR NATIVE VEGETATION IN VICTORIA

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Victorian Minerals industry has traditionally been and will continue to be an important contributor to Victoria’s growth, particularly in regional and rural Victoria. For the sustainable future of the industry, the regulatory framework must be balanced between promoting investment in the State, good practice and the expectations of the community in an efficient way with minimum necessary direct control of economic agents by government authorities.

The minerals industry has and continues to be an eager participant in environmental management in the State. Partnerships with government and non-governmental organisations have lead to leading practice in environmental management. The industry is well aware that good environmental practice contributes largely to its ‘social licence to operate’.

Environmental regulations represent a substantial proportion of the regulatory burden the minerals industry is subjected to by both State and Commonwealth governments. It is therefore critical that all environmental regulations are applied in the most economically efficient manner to achieve identifiable outcomes without inhibiting innovation and improved practices by businesses.

In this increasingly difficult economic environment, the importance of attracting investment into Victoria is paramount. For investment to occur, an investor must be confident that its sovereign risk is as low as possible.

Onerous and duplicative legislation leading to very unpredictable and often unexplainable regulator determinations does nothing to provide the investor with confidence. Nor do approval processes that cost millions of dollars and cause significant delays to investment decisions. A legislative spider web with reams of red tape will result in investors looking elsewhere.

From the outset, the MCA supported the intent of the Native Vegetation Management Framework. However MCA has expressed considerable frustration over the inconsistent interpretation and implementation of it by government officials since its inception.

The key issues surrounding the Framework were its implementation and the availability of offsets. Offsets became prohibitively expense and were unable to located either on a ‘like for like’ basis or close to the permitted clearing area.

Constraints embedded in the regime resulted in less than optimal native vegetation and biodiversity outcomes or for communities or land users.

This review provides a timely opportunity for Victoria to significantly reform its approach, without reducing environmental outcomes, to make Victoria the Showcase for responsible environmental management with real outcomes for native vegetation.

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