Members of Resources Law Network provided a submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry into Resources Sector Regulation. The submission identified issues regarding best-practice arrangements and urged a broadening scope of study.

The full Resources Law Network submission (by John Southalan and Joe Fardin) can be downloaded here. In summary, the submission:

  • identified best-practice issues for the Commission to examine in its inquiry;
  • encouraged the Commission to explicitly identify how non-financial aspects feature in its inquiry and analysis, which should include the principles of ecologically sustainable development;
  • recommended broadening the scope of study – which would be within the Treasurer’s terms of reference and, more importantly, align with the Commission’s contribution to better ‘policies in the long-term interest of the Australian community’ and also government approaches of regulatory impact assessment;
  • urged the inclusion of renewable energy within the Commission’s assessment of ‘resources’, given that renewables have some substitutability for coal and therefore make the Commission’s focus on the latter, if quarantined from the broader context, a skewed analysis focussing on the status quo;
  • explained why the ‘life cycle of a resources project’, and government regulation of that, begins prior to exploration; and
  • emphasised that public involvement should not be envisaged as community acceptance and involvement within a pre-determined resources project – instead, community engagement must be part of planning and decision-making from the beginning, as evident from contemporary practice by resources companies and also international standards.