Victorian Planning System Ministerial Advisory Committee review

Executive Summary

The Victorian Minerals industry has the potential to continue to be an important contributor to Victoria's growth, particularly in regional and rural Victoria.

Over recent years the State has lost market share in minerals activity to other states and is no longer seen as prospective or an attractive place to invest. However, the substantial contribution of the mining sector to Melbourne‟s economy is indisputable.

For the sustainable future of the industry, the policy and regulatory framework must be balanced between promoting investment in the State, good practice and the expectations of the community in an efficient way with a minimum but appropriate level of direct control of economic agents by government authorities.

Planning and environmental regulations represent a substantial proportion (in terms of approvals) of minerals industry regulation, both State and Commonwealth regulations. It is therefore critical that all regulations are applied in the most economically efficient manner to achieve identifiable outcomes without inhibiting innovation and improved practices by businesses.

In this increasingly society where complex social, environmental and financial matters coalesce, the importance of attracting investments into Victoria that meet the principles of sustainable development 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 inexplicable regulator outcomes 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.

Access to land for exploration is a key issue for the prosperity of the industry. The MCA recognises that land can be used for different purposes at the same time (multiple) and for different purposes after a land use has finished (sequential). Multiple and sequential land use is fundamental to achieving simultaneously the State‟s economic and conservation objectives and is consistent with the principles of sustainable development as operationalised for the Australian minerals industry in Enduring Value.

Victoria faces a range of issues when compared to the other mainland jurisdictions of Australia. Two in particular - a relatively small land mass, with the 2nd largest population of the country; this same land being well endowed with economically recoverable mineral resources.

The planning controls that are of most importance to the minerals industry are those that mandate land use and in particular control or restrict access to land for exploration and control or restrict mining project approvals.

Controlled or restricted access to Crown land for exploration is a significant barrier for the minerals industry. For Victoria‟s economic and social prosperity, these critical areas need to be managed to ensure the continued viability of mineral resources operations in a responsible way.

The MCA seeks regulatory reform to establish an effective regulatory system for planning. We identify that as well as legislation design, greater resources to ensure regulator institutional capacity is urgently needed.

We seek a one-stop-shop for the approval of projects requiring multi-agency approvals and we seek declaration of projects of State significance for expedited progress through the planning approvals system.

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