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Regulatory action on greenwashing

Greenwashing is an enforcement priority for regulators in Australia, including ASIC and ACCC. 

In the recent case of ASIC v LGSS Pty Ltd [2024] FCA 587 (Active Super case), ASIC was successful against the trustee of Active Super. In this case Active Super was found to have made false or misleading representations that it did not invest in certain sectors or activities. The purpose of these representations was to promote the superannuation fund’s ESG credentials. The court found that Active Super did actually invest in those sectors either directly or indirectly through its investment funds. 

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Future Gas Strategy

The Future Gas Strategy was released on 9 May. Gas continues to be important to Australia through the energy transition with natural gas currently meeting 27% of our energy needs and nearly 20% of export income. The Minister for Resources, Madeleine King, highlights in the document that gas is a transition fuel that is required until renewable alternatives are viable. She also highlights the need for greenhouse gas emissions associated with gas to decline, abated or offset. In line with this the Strategy anticipates that demand for gas may increase until alternative energy sources are available but by 2050 demand is expected to be significantly reduced. 

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The Federal Budget: A Future Made in Australia

On Tuesday May 14, Dr Chalmers delivered the Federal Budget for 2025. A central part of the budget was the Future Made in Australia initiative which committed $22.7 billion over the next decade to attract investment and propel Australia as a renewable energy superpower globally. This is aimed at accelerating investment in priority industries that include critical minerals processing, renewable hydrogen, low carbon liquid fuels, green metals (which include some commodities produced using low-carbon technologies) and the manufacturing of clean energy technologies.

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Rehabilitation of the Latrobe Valley Coal Mines: Integrating Regulation of Mine Rehabilitaion and Planning for Land and Water Use

Professor Alex Gardner, University of Western Australia Law School
Elda Poletti, Mining Law Consultant
Lauren Downes, Research Associate, University of Western Australia Law School
Laura Hamblin, Research Associate, University of Western Australia Law School

The research presented in this article was supported by CRC TiME. The content of the article is a revised version of a case study undertaken for the project “Mapping the regulatory framework of mine closure”. The support of the Australian Government through the Cooperative Research Centre Program is acknowledged. The article is current to March 2024.

This case study considers the challenges of implementing effective regulatory processes for rehabilitation of open cut coal mines in one of the world’s largest brown coal reserves, the Latrobe Valley, Victoria. The Latrobe Valley coal fired energy industry is experiencing a transition hastened by a serious coal mine fire in 2014 and climate change. The Latrobe Valley mines and their associated power stations either have closed (Hazelwood 2017) or are scheduled to close (Yallourn 2028 and Loy Yang 2035) with final rehabilitation to follow. The case study demonstrates the leading role of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (Vic) in mine rehabilitation regulation. The MRSD Act was significantly reformed in 2019 to introduce important mine rehabilitation reforms and integrate mine rehabilitation regulation with land use and water use planning, all operating in the context of the Climate Change Act 2017 (Vic). The principal integrative instrument is the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy (2020, amended in October 2023). We suggest further research to improve the regulatory outcomes.


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High Court decision on the right to mine

The High Court recently handed down its decision in Harvey v Minister for Primary Industries and Resources [2024] HCA 1. The case considered the meaning of mining activities under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). 

The case involved an application for a mineral lease that Mount Isa Mines applied for in 2013 under the Mineral Titles Act 2010 (NT). The application was to process sediment from a channel to a dredge spoil emplacement area but did not involve any production of minerals. The applicant gave notice under section 24MD(6A) of the Native Title Act but the native title holders argued the notice should have been under section 24MD(6B) instead.