The Minerals Council is ramping up its policy pitch for the mining industry ahead of the federal election, promoting its environmental credentials and calling for reform of environmental regulations.
An industry advertisement video promoting the mined land rehabilitation, shot at the New Acland coal mine on the Darling Downs, was launched today along with a policy document.
The Minerals Council also released its pre-election policy platform, The Next Frontier: Australian Mining Policy Priorities.
It makes a case to “remove the duplicative water trigger” for coal seam gas and large coal projects, which it said costs industry $47 million a year.
The water trigger is a federal law that requires miners to prepare a special report on the impacts to water resources from large coal and onshore gas projects, which is assessed by the Commonwealth’s expert scientific panel.
Industry has argued the water trigger is unnecessary and the impacts are assessed under Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Increasing international competition has put more pressure on the cost of business in Australia, the Minerals Council said.
It said mining is a major economic driver for Australia’s economy. In 2016-17 the industry paid $12.1 billion in company tax, $11.2b in royalties and $1.1b in payroll taxes.
It has called for a reduction to company taxes and to duplication between state and federal environmental regulations necessarily slows down and increases the cost of project development.
“Our members need streamlined laws which protect our environment while removing duplication and red tape,” the Minerals Council said.
The Minerals Council also wants to introduce risk-based assessments which could decreased regulatory burden for mining development.
Another priority is reform to prevent “frivolous and vexatious legal challenges to approved projects” by anti-mining activists, otherwise known as ‘lawfare’.
“Appeal mechanisms are important but are being misused by activists to deliberately halt or delay projects, with new projects now taking on average three times as long to develop,” the Minerals Council said.
“While largely unsuccessful, the cost to proponents and people in the regions is significant with no environmental benefit.”
Late last year at Labor’s National Conference the party committed to create new overarching environment legislation and institute a federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The policy proposal came from the Labor’s left-wing Environment Action Network but the party’s environment spokesman Tony Burke said the reform would not increase the amount of regulation on industry.
“We aren’t creating new layers of regulation, we are fixing a broken system, streamlining law and delivering true protections,” Mr Burke said.
The Minerals Council also wants government to adopt new regulations to resolve disputes with landholders.
The Multiple Land Use Framework, which was developed by the Sinclair Knight Merz consultancy group, was endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments in 2013.
The Minerals Council will also seek a commitment to maintain the Fuel Tax Credits scheme, which has also a been a priority for agriculture.
Fuel tax credits is a rebate to businesses for diesel use that occurs on private roads.
The rebate refunds fuel tax excise, which is charged on all fuel sales and contributes to public road infrastructure.
The Minerals Council supports Australia’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement, to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.