SA Mines and Energy Journal : August - September 2013
16 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013 SA MINES & ENERGY JOURNAL FEATURE SACOME believes a solution could be for the Federal Government to utilise bodies -- perhaps Infrastructure Australia and the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) -- to provide funding arrangements where there is a market failure. "This solution has proven successful with the Federal and State governments assisting Nyrstar to arrange a funding agreement with EFIC to upgrade Nyrstar's Port Pirie smelter, " Mr Kuchel says. Mr Gray agrees there is a case for the Commonwealth to assist with infrastructure proposals. "However, development of resources projects should be based on sound commercial decisions in response to market demands, " he says. "For this reason, infrastructure development for resources projects, particularly ports and rail, is commonly funded by the private sector. " The Coalition agrees that government involvement is needed, especially in developing a deep sea port. It says it will create a funding and finance advisory unit within Infrastructure Australia and undertake an audit of all federal and state infrastructure assets to guide spending decisions. The Greens flag funding infrastructure for energy resource development projects as their priority over the uranium and fossil fuel industries, calling for $30 billion over 10 years to address this. Another major hindrance to the advancement of projects is the duplication of green tape across State and Federal governments. A study by the Australian National University found in the first 10 years since the Commonwealth's project approval laws under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, an extra $820 million had been added to the cost of approvals -- for no extra environmental protection. "At present, resources companies are exposed to a costly, drawn-out, duplicated process that has driven up development costs and delayed prospective projects, " Mr Kuchel says. SACOME is calling for bilateral agreements for assessment and approvals to be established under the EPBC Act, accrediting the State environmental assessment processes -- including the Program for Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation and Statement of Environmental Objectives -- under the Act where they satisfy its provisions. The Act is the Commonwealth legislative instrument for protecting areas of National Environmental Significance. Both Labor and the Coalition say they will continue to work with the State and Territory governments to eliminate duplications, with the Coalition going a step further in promising a "one-stop shop" to deal with approvals. "This would include creation of a single approvals process for environmental assessment and approvals under the EPBC via the State system, " Mr Macfarlane explains. The Greens believe there is "no compelling evidence" to support streamlining the process and that it is "not appropriate for the states and territories to exercise decision- making powers for approvals in relation to matters of national environmental significance" . A policy was expected to be endorsed at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in April 2013, but lack of agreement has led to the policy being temporarily shelved. "This is a missed opportunity; a single process would streamline environmental assessments and approvals, and bilateral agreements will not 'devalue' environmental protection, as State processes would need to be consistent with the EPBC Act to gain accreditation, " Mr Kuchel says. A system that has been reformed by Labor is that of Native Title, with the transference of certain functions from the National Native Title Tribunal to the Federal Court. The government, however, flagged a cease in funding to the respondent scheme at the end of 2012. "This limits the capability of SACOME and other State bodies to assist and determine Indigenous Land Use Agreements with native title claimants, resulting in a sub- standard system, " Mr Kuchel says. SACOME is calling for an increase in resources and funding to the Tribunal and Court so outstanding Native Title claims can be resolved in a timely manner, a point with which the Greens strongly agree. The Coalition agrees that "things should be as fair, as efficient and as accessible as possible for all concerned" , while Labor believes its reform was sufficient and "will contribute to the more timely resolution of claims" . The political rhetoric of promised consultation and in-principle support makes it difficult for anyone to clearly determine who is best to lead our industry beyond 2013. One thing is certain: the political parties must listen to the urgent calls of junior minerals and oil and gas players that make up the majority of the South Australian industry and commit to visionary policies to allow our resources and energy sectors to thrive. Policy Labor Coalition Greens Comments Exploration Tax Credit × ½* × *Budget constraints Infrastructure ½* *Energy infrastructure only PRRT (Contiguous licences) × ½* × *Will review if elected PRRT (Low Profit Offset) × ½* × *Will review if elected MRRT × × EPBC Act × Native Title Tribunal ½* ½* *Budget funding; already timely Climate Change × × Exploration Deductibility × × × Diesel Fuel Credit × Resources companies are exposed to a costly, drawn-out, duplicated process that has driven up development costs Marks are based on whether the responses received by parties are generally positive or negative rather than whether they meet SACOME's expectations.
June - July 2013
October - November 2013