EDOs of Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Resources Sector Regulation, which aims to identify ‘effective regulatory approaches to the resources sector’ and highlight ‘examples of best-practice regulation across Australia and internationally’.
Our recommendations are for improving national and subnational resource regulation in ways that will encourage investment by good operators in Australia and strengthen our economy overall, while maintaining or enhancing good governance, community wellbeing and the protection of environmental values.
We support the provision of efficient, clear and consistent laws which achieve their purpose. The theme pursued in the Terms of Reference for this inquiry, that regulation in general and particularly the speed of current regulatory frameworks for the resource sector is an impediment and burdensome to business investment in the resource sector, must be put under scrutiny.
A key recommendation provided here, that we consider will aid in resolving many of the current issues with our resource regulations, is the introduction of a National independent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A new National EPA can greatly assist in effectively addressing challenges through acting as a trusted institution capable of undertaking independent assessment and enforcement, as well as providing independent advice to decision-makers on, and oversight of, national resource regulation outcomes. An independent National EPA can operate at arm’s- length from government to remove the risks of corruption or conflicts of interest and to ensure regulations are implemented efficiently, in a non-biased, non-political way. The EPA would ideally be coupled with strong amendments to our environmental laws to remove existing discretions and provide more certainty and clarity as to what is required through decision making. In order to fulfill this role and to provide more efficiency and clarity to resource regulation, the EPA must be sufficiently resourced to undertake this job.