The Minerals Council of Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide a submission to the Senate Committee Review of the EPBC Amendment Bill 2013.

As you are aware, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) represents over 85% of minerals production in Australia. The MCA’s strategic objective is to advocate public policy and operational practice for a world class industry that is safe, profitable, innovative, environmentally responsible and attuned to community needs and expectations. This submission is also endorsed by the Queensland Resources Council1, South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy, Chamber of Minerals and Energy, Western Australia and MCA – Victorian and Northern Territory Divisions.

MCA members have a long-standing commitment to sustainable development and the effective management of Australia’s water resources. Although the minerals industry is a comparatively small user of waters, currently utilising 4% of consumptive use of water2 nationally, the economic return provided from that use is significant at the national, regional and local level.

In this submission, the MCA does not seek in any way to diminish the importance of effective protection of the environment, but rather promotes improvements to the efficiency and co-ordination of legislation and planning regimes within and between jurisdictions to achieve an overall better environmental outcome, including the sustainable use of Australia’s water resources.

The minerals industry has seen a considerable increase in regulation over the past several years, much of which has been duplicative of other processes, reactive and poorly defined in terms of objectives and outcomes. This despite clear evidence from the Hawke Review of the EPBC Act that additional layers of regulatory process and assessment do not necessarily translate into improved outcomes.

The MCA considers the proposed EPBC amendment to be unnecessary and unworkable. It is duplicative and disproportionate in light of existing initiatives at both the Commonwealth and State/Territory levels, (including the National Partnership Agreement) and the significant national water reform process under the National Water Initiative.

The MCA considers that greater certainty around the sustainable use of Australia’s water resources can be provided through initiatives to deliver a more strategic approach to water resource and land use planning and a more appropriate role for the Commonwealth would be in facilitating and supporting these initiatives in a non-reactive manner, and in collaboration with industry.

The MCA is disappointed by the expeditious nature of the proposed amendment, in light of the slow progress on the broader suite of EPBC reforms.