Better regulation of the resources sector across Australia would support future investment and build community trust.
The Productivity Commission’s final report examining resources sector regulation identifies 48 leading practices that would lower costs for industry and deliver environmental and social outcomes of importance to the community.
“The community needs to have confidence in regulation and how it is enforced. As well as identifying many opportunities for streamlining and simplification we also found a need for more rigour in areas, such as protection of Indigenous heritage,” Commissioner Lisa Gropp said.
While regulatory systems in all jurisdictions have elements of leading practice, considerable scope for improvement remains, and there is much that governments can learn from each other.
Governments should focus on getting the basics right, such as setting clear regulatory objectives and establishing institutional and resourcing arrangements if they are to achieve sustained improvement in their regulatory systems.
These foundations authorise and enable regulators to do their jobs well and hold them accountable. They can be put in place reasonably quickly and, by facilitating investment, would help support the COVID-19 economic recovery.
The report lists several priority areas for reform including using a risk-based approach to regulation so that effort is focussed on areas of most significance to the community.
Duplication of regulatory processes is a major issue for project proponents and can cause significant delays. The report identifies opportunities for more co-operation, better coordination between regulators and more effective use of data to reduce timelines.
The report also highlights the importance of effective engagement with local communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Engagement with communities ensures that concerns about issues including environmental and heritage impacts are properly addressed and programs that aim to share benefits are effective and align with communities’ needs.
“Building trust is critical and meaningful community engagement should begin early in a project and continue throughout,” Commissioner Gropp said.
The full report can be found at www.pc.gov.au/resources