Statement from NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee
The NSW Minerals Council cautiously welcomes the NSW Government’s response to the review of the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) conducted by the NSW Productivity Commissioner.
If properly implemented, the recommended changes have the potential to improve the planning process and deliver shorter project assessment timeframes.
The review was an opportunity to address widespread and fundamental concerns about the negative impact of IPC processes and outcomes on the NSW economy, and on regional communities across the state. While more reform may be needed in the future, the recommended changes are a positive step.
While the NSW Minerals Council did not seek the abolition of the IPC we did call for changes to the IPC’s role within the planning assessment process. The review report makes clear that the role of the IPC should not be to set government policy or conduct its own assessment process, as it has previously sought to do.
The report clarifies that the NSW Government is responsible for setting the rules and policies that project applications are to be assessed against. This should have always been the case and it must now happen.
The report recommends that the Department of Planning be primarily responsible for assessing project applications against the NSW Government’s rules and policies. This is welcome and long overdue.
Limiting the IPC to a determination role, based on the Department's assessment against NSW Government's rules and policies is also an important change. If properly implemented, this will be a significant improvement on previous arrangements, as will the proposed protocol for seeking policy clarity.
Formally making the IPC responsible for delivering on the NSW Government’s agreed objectives and performance measures should also provide greater accountability on the operation of the IPC.
The two-stage IPC hearing process has become complicated and unwieldy, creating confusion and leading to longer assessment timeframes. The change to a single hearing is positive and has the potential to streamline the process and reduce timeframes.
While the increase in the threshold and content requirements for objections is welcome, the proposed changes are unlikely to be enough to prevent the ongoing ‘gaming’ of the system by activists.
On behalf of our industry, as well as 40,000 NSW miners and their families, our regional mining communities and the thousands of businesses that supply our industry across NSW, the NSW Minerals Council will closely monitor the implementation and impact of these proposed changes.
It is critical that these changes are implemented quickly and effectively to deliver the jobs and investment that our economy needs, and that the people of regional NSW depend upon.