Support for sensible policy making on mining from major parties

February 18, 2015

Spokesmen on mining for the NSW Government and the Labor Opposition are committing to sensible policy making on planning and environmental management in the next term of government.
With the NSW state election just weeks away, Minister for Resources and Energy, Anthony Roberts, and Shadow Minister, Steve Whan, have both stated their support for a strong mining industry in NSW and the jobs and investment it brings.
Speaking at the Hunter Business Chamber’s Mining Lunch in Newcastle, Minister Roberts said the government would continue to focus on providing business with more certainty.
“You can’t have jobs without investment. And you can’t have investment… unless you’ve got good policy and regulation around that investment. And most importantly, certainty,” he said.   
“It is critical that we start to bring back to business a level of certainty. One of the things that I’ll be continuing to drive will be returning certainty to business… to drive industry and jobs.”
Planning is one area where there has been significant changes, with a raft of additional new rules and regulations and duplication in some areas over the past 3 years. It now takes more than 1,000 days for a mining project to be assessed by government, up from around 500 days just 3 years ago.
Hunter Business Chamber CEO, Kristen Keegan, told the 250 guests at the function that problems in the planning system didn’t just hurt big business, but that they flowed through the economy hurting the thousands of businesses that supply our mines up and down the Hunter Valley.
The NSW Government has committed to reducing the assessment timeframes for assessing mining projects by half. Mr Whan agreed that this is an area where there can be a bi-partisan approach.
“There will obviously be differences between the Labor Party and the government on planning. There are things that you can get reasonably good philosophically support on,” he said. 
“Our democracy is based on a contest of ideas but there are areas where you can work together and I think it would be great if this was one of those areas. 
“I think governments are elected to make decisions, but it is clear for now that the PAC [Planning Assessment Commission] will be making decisions. The PAC’s processes need to be changed to reflect the changes to it - now a decision making body.”
Mr Whan also announced that the NSW Labor Opposition did not believe it was necessary to cover coal train wagons and would instead refer the matter to the Chief Scientist for review if they are elected in March. 

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