NSW political parties' positions on mining at this election

March 26, 2015

The NSW Minerals Council submitted its pre-election policy manifesto to all political parties in February 2015.

Responses have now been received from the NSW Government and Opposition.

NSW Liberal/Nationals Government Response

The NSW Liberal/Nationals Government response confirms a commitment to “...a strong, robust and transparent mining sector in NSW.”

Importantly, the NSW Liberal/Nationals have also reaffirmed their commitment to significant reforms of the planning system, including the halving of assessment timeframes for major mining projects, with work already underway to achieve this objective.

The NSW Liberal/Nationals Government has also committed to an extension of the Resources for Regions program for another four years, with a guaranteed funding stream of 10% of the regional component of Restart NSW to be reserved for this purpose, and an extension of eligibility criteria.

There is also a very strong commitment to strengthening of the penalties for unauthorised access of mine sites, and changing the onus of responsibility so that owners and operators are not liable for the illegal actions of trespassers.

While the NSW Liberal/Nationals Government has committed to ongoing consultation on industry policy issues, they have not provided a commitment to limit any future industry fee and levy increases to CPI.

NSW Labor Opposition Response

Like the NSW Liberal/Nationals Government, the NSW Labor Opposition response confirms support for a strong mining industry, stating that, “Mining is crucial to the state’s economy and supports thousands of jobs, especially in regional NSW.”

On planning, Labor has failed to match the Liberal/Nationals’ commitment to halve planning assessment timeframes. Labor’s publicly stated desire to repeal the Mining SEPP is also of concern, as is a mooted Labor review of ‘Gateway’ processes.

Labor has committed to a Resources for Regions program in some form, with a welcome commitment to investigate a royalties-based funding model.

Labor has also made a very welcome commitment to ‘...no increase to mining related levies, taxes and fees to deliver Labor’s plans.”

Labor has undertaken to work on reforms of laws related to unauthorised access of mine sites but has failed to match the Liberal/Nationals’ strong commitments on this important issue.

Summary

Both the Government and Opposition have re-affirmed their strong commitment to mining in NSW.

And both have also made some very welcome commitments on the policy challenges our industry faces.

In particular, Government commitments on planning and unauthorised access are of critical importance, as is Labor’s commitment to no increases to mining-related levies, taxes and fees.

Importantly for mining communities, the Government and Opposition are both committed to a Resources for Regions program in some form, with an expanded eligibility criteria and ongoing funding source.

On the downside, Labor’s failure to match the Government’s planning commitments are a big concern, as is their mooted review of the ‘Gateway’ process.

More generally, Labor’s preference deal with the Greens at this election will also worry mining families across NSW, given the Greens’ hostility to mining and their stated desire to shut down the NSW coal industry within five years.

And while the NSW Minerals Council  doesn’t represent the gas sector, Labor’s policy on Santos’ Narrabri Gas project would increase perceptions of sovereign risk in NSW, with implications for the NSW resources sector more broadly. 


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