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Parliamentary Questions

Question On Notice No. 2196 asked in the Legislative Council on 6 June 2019 by Hon Robin Scott

Question Directed to the: Minister for Regional Development representing the Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Industrial Relations
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

(1) I refer to a letter, dated 9 April 2019, titled, "Removing Legal Barriers to Efficient Environmental Regulation", signed by Karen Caple, Acting Executive Director, Resources and Environmental Compliance Division from the Department of Mines Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS), and ask, can the Minister explain how low impact activities can be managed by standard practices?
(2) If no to (1), why not?
(3) Can the Minister list the specific "standard practices" which can be used to manage the programs of work?
(4) If no to (3), why not?
(5) Can the Minister explain why DMIRS has not written by email and/or by hard copy to consult with all tenement holders in the State of Western Australia for those people whom are not members of Association of Mining and Exploration Companies, Chamber of Minerals and Energy or Amalgamated Prospectors and Leaseholders Association about these proposed changes to legislation?
(6) Can the Minister explain and define what DMIRS regards as the "highest risks and monitoring compliance" in the mining sector?
(7) If no to (6), why not?
(8) Can the Minister explain why Small Mining Operations templates and definitions are specifically not being included in the low impact notification framework, to greatly assist full-time prospectors and mining companies operating in the industry?
(9) If no to (8), why not?
(10) Can the Minister explain why the current Mining Act 1978 and Mining Regulations 1981 does not provide for transparency, procedural fairness in assessments and decision making?
(11) If no to (10), why not?
(12) Can the Minister explain why DMIRS maintains it needs a "narrow" definition of the environment as opposed to a wider definition of the environment, to ensure the department does not duplicate the work of other regulators?
(13) If no to (12), why not?

Answered on 7 August 2019

(1) Legislative amendments, such as the proposed Mining Legislation Amendment Bill, would be required to define a low impact activity based on the type of activity and the location that it occurs in. The general principles are that these activities would not require a site specific risk assessment or the design of specific risk interventions, and therefore any impacts could be acceptably managed by imposing standard conditions for those activity types.

(2) Not applicable

(3) No

(4) Should the Low Impact Notification concept be established through legislative amendments to replace assessments in certain circumstances, DMIRS will consult with industry and stakeholders on the standard conditions that would apply to those activities before they are established in regulations.

(5) DMIRS will undertake consultation at the exposure draft stage. There is no exposure draft to consult on at present. Tenement holders are encouraged to register with the DMIRS electronic newsletters to remain informed of proposed changes to legislation.

(6) ‘Highest risks’ refers to the location and type of activities being undertaken and the risks those activities pose to the environment. ‘Monitoring compliance’ is the role of the Department in monitoring the performance of the industry against their obligations.

(7) Not applicable

(8) The proposed concept of a Low Impact Notification framework would require legislative amendment and is still under development. Specific activities would be prescribed in regulations and would be subject to public consultation.

(9) Not applicable

(10) DMIRS provides transparency and procedural fairness in all its assessments and decision making on environmental applications through administrative procedures, as the Mining Act 1978 and Mining Regulations 1981 do not provide procedural rules. Legislative amendments would be required to enshrine these procedures in statute.

(11) Not applicable 

(12) DMIRS’ legislation operates under the primacy of the overarching Environmental Protection Act 1986 which has a broader definition of environment to capture all relevant significant matters of value to the Western Australian community that may be affected by development proposals. Some matters are deemed to be of significant value that Parliament has established additional legislative protection and regulatory agencies to manage those matters, for example heritage. If amendments to the Mining Act 1978 define the term “environment”, it is entirely appropriate for this to be specific to the use of the term within that statute, and not duplicate the existing protections under other statutes.

(13) Not applicable