On 5 August 2019 the Federal Resources Minister, Matt Canavan MP announced that the Productivity Commission will conduct a 12-month review of the regulation of the resources sector. This review is in response to criticism that the red-tape created by state and federal regulations are holding back the growth of Australia's resources sector.

The Productivity Commission will look at best-practice examples of regulation that removes unnecessary costs for business, while maintaining sound oversight. It will also examine regulatory settings across the sector to highlight best-practice examples in Australia and internationally.

A key focus will be on the efficiency of environmental and mining approvals to help reduce the regulatory burden on businesses. This work will complement the statutory review of national environmental protection law – and in particular the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) – due to commence in October 2019. The aim is to ensure that resources projects are transparently and efficiently assessed while upholding robust environmental standards. The study will also analyse best practice community engagement, land access and benefit sharing practices by industry, governments and other bodies.

The review forms part of the Federal Government's broader regulatory reform agenda, which aims to tackle a range of barriers to investment in key industries and activities in order to boost efficiency, productivity and stimulate job creation. Depending on the outcome of the review, it may be the case that the regulatory frameworks of the resources sector may become more streamlined, in keeping with best-practice examples across Australia.

The Productivity Commission will consult with key interest groups and affected parties, invite public submissions and release a draft report to the public. An issues paper to guide people in preparing a submission is expected to be released this month.

This is a great opportunity for resources companies to influence how regulation is managed. We will provide further updates as they become available and encourage participants in the resources sector to make submissions as part of the review.

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