The MCA Victoria Division welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Great South Coast Draft Regional Growth Plan (the Plan).

The Great South Coast is prospective for a range of minerals including, but not limited to, gold, mineral sands and oil shale. The development of such resources would boost the region’s economy significantly through the creation of high-skill, high-wage jobs in a high-value add sector. In addition to the economic potential of resource developments within the region, Great South Coast is positioned to benefit from the ongoing and future expansion of the mineral sands mining sector in the Loddon Mallee North and Wimmera South Region with the Port of Portland a key export centre for Victorian mineral sands.

For the success of the Great South Coast regional growth plan the minerals industry is as important to local economic development as agriculture, retail or any other key industry.

It is at the local planning scheme that local council and the minerals industry intersects. Under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act (MR(SD) Act) exploration work can be undertaken without the need for a planning permit. Mining projects are however required to gain planning approval before the work plan can be approved. Planning approval can be gained through a planning permit issued by the local government authority or through an Environmental Effects Statement process completed under the direction of the Minister for Planning. Local governments also have a role in administering the native vegetation management framework on behalf of the government.

The majority of regulations impacting on exploration and mining projects are administered by the State. For some projects Commonwealth regulations also apply. Whilst we acknowledge this demarcation of responsibilities there is often very little communication and knowledge sharing across the levels of government to enable efficient, effective and timely decision making. The process of developing regional growth plans offers an opportunity for all stakeholders to come together to develop the strategies which will grow the State’s economy over the next few decades.

The Great South Coast draft regional growth plan is a comprehensive document that examines a wide range of factors which will be integral to the development and growth of the region over the next few decades.

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, as such it has an important role to play in the growth of the Great South Coast region.

The Plan outlines a good strategy for the region’s future by addressing the region’s development requirements though a wide lens, identifying that future prosperity will be delivered by a diverse economy, an increased population, the development of regional infrastructure, and through supporting a vibrant community.

The role that the minerals industry can play in Great South Coast’s growth in the coming decades has been included in the plan, although not consistently. In this draft only some sections identify that the minerals industry has a key role to play in the region’s growth alongside the region’s other key industries; while other sections omit the minerals industry. The MCA recommends that the Plan be amended to ensure that the minerals industry receives the same consistent consideration and attention as other major industries.

The MCA looks forward to engaging with the Department in further developing and implementing the Plan.

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