Australia: Queensland’s ambitious Resources Legislative Reform – the Proposed "Common Resources Act"


The Queensland resources sector is set to face one of the largest legislative reforms in its history.

Driven by the streamlining approvals project and an election undertaking to reduce red tape by 20%, the Queensland Government has proposed to reform its legislative framework for the resources sector by consolidating five resources Acts into one, the 'Common Resources Act'.

In consultations with industry and key stakeholders, including a briefing to Norton Rose clients on 16 April, the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (Department) has proposed a staged reform process to take place over the next few years. This update discusses the legislative reforms proposed by the Queensland Government and some of the preliminary concerns raised by the industry. While there is cautious support from industry for the reform, it is conditional upon the Government adhering to the following key principles:

  1. there must be no diminution of existing rights;
  2. the fundamental principles of the existing legislation should be maintained; and
  3. the reform should be consistent, transparent and encourage investment.


In November 2012, the Queensland Government released a discussion paper entitled Modernising Queensland's resource tenure legislation (Industry Discussion Paper), which outlines: the Queensland Government's vision of modernising resources tenure legislation by 2016 to replace the five separate legislative frameworks and subordinate regulations; and the Queensland Government's proposal to incrementally and collaboratively deliver legislative reform over the next three to four years.

The Acts to be consolidated include the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld),the Petroleum Act 1923 (Qld), the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (Qld), the Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2009 (Qld), and the Geothermal Energy Act 2010 (Qld)(Resources Acts).

The key drivers of the reform are the Queensland Government's Streamlining Approvals Project: Mining and Petroleum Tenure Approval Process released in November 2009 and the Newman Government's electoral pledge to reduce red tape by 20%.

The host of recent legislative amendments as a result of the Mines Legislation (Streamlining) Amendment Act 2012 (Qld) (Streamlining Act) and the Environmental Protection (Greentape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2012 (Qld) are designed to implement part of the Streamlining Approvals Project. In particular, the Streamlining Act provided the legislative framework for an online service delivery model. The Streamlining Act also provided amendments to establish common structure, terminology and assessment processes for resource activities required under the Resources Acts.

In this regard the Streamlining Act sets the foundation for a Common Resources Act; however the Queensland Government has stated that there is still a need for wider and more ambitious reform that will:

  • remove the complexity from the existing legislation to create process certainty;
  • drive the modernisation of Queensland's resources tenure administration, facilitating enhanced and faster online service delivery;
  • examine ways to reduce the administrative and regulatory burden on industry across all resource sectors, including compliance costs and processing times; and
  • increase Queensland's attractiveness as an investment destination.

Legislative reform proposal

The Department is proposing a staged legislative reform package over several years. It is anticipated that each stage will take approximately one year to complete and involve a rolling process of consultation, bill development and engagement for the next stage.

Stage one

It is envisioned the principal mechanism to achieve this reform would be the creation of an Act into which harmonised legislation would be transferred over several years (the "Common Provisions Act").It is intended at the end of stage three the Common Provisions Act will be renamed the Common Resources Act.

During stage one, all existing common elements from the existing legislation would be transferred to a shell Common Provisions Act. The Common Provisions Act would:

  • develop common objectives;
  • define a common relationship with the existing legislation;
  • transfer the existing definitions of minerals and petroleum;
  • establish the Crown's property in minerals and petroleum; and
  • establish a common royalties section, dealings, land access, security, registers, common native title provisions and a common dictionary and endnotes section.

Stage two

All 'post-grant' related provisions would be reviewed with the aim of achieving commonality and transferring them to the Common Provisions Act. For example, the following provisions have been proposed to be consolidated:

  • compensation;
  • negotiation and dispute resolution;
  • non-compliance;
  • overlapping tenures;
  • reporting;
  • records and samples;
  • measurement; and
  • reviews and appeals.

Stage three / Stage four

While originally proposed to be two separate phases, the government has recently suggested that the last two phases would be combined into one stage in order to achieve implementation by 2016.

In the original "stage three", a common set of tenure types would be established in the Common Sections Act (including the harmonisation of grant and renewal provisions), with transitional provisions for the automatic conversion of existing tenures to the new types. This would address the fact that currently petroleum and gas, as well as coal, are released through the controlled release of land (tenders), while exploration permits of minerals are provided by over-the-counter applications. In the original "stage four" the remaining resource-specific provisions of the existing legislation would be dealt with, either by new resource-specific sections created in the Common Sections Act or by resource-specific regulations.

In addition, the remaining shells of the existing legislation would be collapsed and the Common Sections Act would be renamed. Recent commentary by the government has also suggested that the Petroleum Act 1923 would not be repealed in order to protect the rights of pre-1996 ATP holders who have rights to the grant of a petroleum lease upon satisfaction of certain criteria.

Outcomes of consultation

Following the initial proposal, industry and stakeholder feedback from the Industry Discussion Paper indicates broad, but cautious support for the Queensland Government's vision and legislative reform proposal, largely conditional on the Common Resources Act retaining the three fundamental principles of reform:

  • phased and engaged reform to deliver consistency and transparency, encourage investment and align with 'best practice regulation';
  • retention of the underlying fundamental principles of the existing legislation, (for example, state ownership of resources, extracted by entities in return for rent and royalty and based on a system of land tenures and permits); and
  • no diminution of existing rights unless agreed by industry.

Some key comments and concerns regarding the risk associated with consolidating diverse legislative rights across the existing legislation into a single Common Resources Act include:

  • there is no universal acceptance of the concept that a single Act is the sole means of achieving simplification and consistency (a key example is the greater flexibility under the Mineral Resources Act 1989 (Qld) compared with the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (Qld));
  • reduction in legislative page count should not be an indication of success (risk of certainty being sacrificed for brevity);
  • the potential complexity of transitional arrangements;
  • there is a risk that harmonisation may lead to diminution of existing rights;
  • the importance of ensuring the protection of existing entitlements under existing legislation (for example, rights to produce water as a by-product of gas production for the petroleum industry);
  • the need for clarity and transparency from the Queensland Government about the impact of legislative change/transitional provisions on existing projects;
  • the Queensland Government must ensure existing exemptions in other legislation are clearly drafted in the Common Resources Act, including exemptions from the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld), Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld) and the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 (Qld);
  • the Queensland Government should consider the adoption of a principle-based approach to the Common Resources Act, as opposed to a heavily prescriptive approach; and
  • the need for continued incremental amendments to address known and current issues.

As a result, the Queensland Government has identified the following as priority considerations:

  • taking a customer/tenure holder centric approach to policy development;
  • developing principle based vs. prescriptive legislation;
  • making the business process suit the business;
  • adhering to the underlying fundamental principles of the existing legislation and avoiding 'regulatory creep';
  • taking a cautionary approach with transitional arrangements;
  • keeping stakeholders informed and engaged;
  • creating a framework that can accommodate new and emerging resource industries; and
  • considering Native Title implications.

Next steps

Given the size and scale of the proposed reforms, most resources stakeholders in Queensland are likely to be affected by the proposal.

The Queensland Government has proposed to establish a joint industry and government reference panel (the 'Joint Reference Group') to develop the phased program of reform for each stage of the reform process, and interested parties should make themselves known.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Amelia Gaulton
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.