Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed regulators to improve approval timeframes and reduce regulatory costs instead of ‘making things worse’.
“This in a region where iron ore mining has been taking place for decades and is relatively low risk,” Morrison, in a speech at the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.
“Take the WA mining industry for example. In 1996, the late Sir Arvi Parbo took the Kambalda nickel mine near Kalgoorlie from discovery to operation in 18 months.
“By contrast, the Roy Hill iron ore mine took around 10 years to complete around 4000 approvals. Delays to the project meant delays to over 5000 construction jobs and 2000 ongoing jobs.”
Morrison promised to renew the focus of regulatory reform, but from a ‘different angle.’
Using the analogy of Trump Administration’s style in cutting red tape, he demanded the government to take the perspective of a business in opening a mine, for example, rather than ‘setting targets’ for departments or government agencies.
This wave of reform could unlock up to $170 billion of resources investment in Australia, according to the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).
Morrison also slammed the Western Australian Environment Protection Authority (WA EPA) for creating uncertainty over emissions requirements for the resources sector.
“Removing what governments identify as excessive or outdated regulation is one thing. Whether we are really focusing on the barriers that matter to business in getting investments and projects off the ground is another,” he said.
Morrison said his government’s initiative for ‘cutting red tape’ had generated $5.8 billion in savings in 2013.
Complex and duplicative assessment and approvals have generated unnecessary delays, adding years to projects getting off the ground, according to MCA chief executive Tania Constable.
“Today’s reform announcements by the Prime Minister provide a new opportunity to restore community and investor trust by streamlining environmental processes that allows for the sustainable use of Australia’s natural resources,” she says.
Morrison has also appointed Ben Morton as Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister to tackle the full suite of barriers to investment and ultimately create more jobs.