New mine safety legislation is currently being drafted which is
intended to replace the existing Mines Safety Inspection Act
1994 (WA), presumably at the same time that new OHS
legislation is introduced for general industry. However, it remains
unclear what form this legislation will take, and to what extent it
will resemble the model legislation.
Western Australia has lined up with New South Wales and
Queensland in determining that the model mining regulations
prepared by Safe Work Australia, which by their very nature are
inherently general, do not adequately provide for their specialist
needs and working environments. Western Australia intends to draft
further regulations, known as 'non-core regulations', to
supplement the Safe Work Australia mining regulations.
The complexity of mining legislation in Western Australia, under
which the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP)
enforces statutory obligations in respect of numerous pieces of
legislation, each with differing enforcement and penalty schemes,
may be contributing to the uncertainty.
In March 2013 the DMP issued a tender for a discussion paper to
form the basis of a DMP Penalties Policy 'that can be used to
assess the appropriate structure and level of penalties in the
future and to form a basis for future regulatory reform
projects.' The need for the discussion paper suggests that
while reform is being carefully considered, the form and content of
that legislative program is still to be determined.
Amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas
Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act)
Meanwhile, in the offshore oil and gas space, the Commonwealth
government has continued its reform agenda in the wake of the
While the offshore health and safety regime has not adopted the
model legislation, on account of its status as a major hazard
industry with specialist safety requirements, the health and safety
provisions in Schedule 3 of the OPGGS Act are aligned with the
The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage
(Compliance Measures) Act 2012 gained royal assent on 14 March
2013, including a range of measures in the principal OPGGS Act
designed to strengthen the ability of offshore regulator NOPSEMA to
secure compliance. The measures include:
The introduction of a civil penalty regime;
Increased criminal penalties, including in relation to health
and safety breaches;
Clarified and strengthened powers for NOPSEMA inspectors;
Provision for information sharing between State and Federal
government agencies; and
The withdrawal of Tasmania from the Joint Authority
Unusually, commencement of all the measures save for those
relating to the sharing of information and the withdrawal of
Tasmania from the Joint Authority arrangements has been delayed,
pending the passage of a further, separate piece of legislation:
the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Bill 2012.
In the interim, the Commonwealth government has introduced
another amending Bill, the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse
Gas (Compliance Measures No 2) Bill. This legislation would
build on the compliance measures recently enacted, including:
Adverse publicity orders;
Environmental prohibition and improvement notices; and
Continuing penalties for unremedied infringements.
The Bill would also introduce 'polluter pays'
obligations, provisions for recovering costs from third parties,
and minimum insurance requirements for operators.
The Compliance Measures No 2 Billis also largely subject to the enactment of the
Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Bill
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.
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