24 June What to expect from the new Australian government? June 24, 2022 By Sally Parker Environment, General, Resources and Energy Climate Change, Net Zero Emissions, Environment, Renewable Energy 0 In May, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) achieved a majority government while the Greens and independents hold the balance of power in the Senate. This signals a new era for Australia, with voters clearly putting climate change high on the agenda for the next three years. Prior to the change in government, Australia had committed to achieving net zero by 2050 with a reduction in emissions of between 26 and 28% by 2030. The latter target has now changed to a 43% reduction by 2030 indicating a clear focus on environmental policy and renewable energy. In addition, the ALP campaigned that 80% of energy would be generated from renewable sources by 2030. While it’s still early days for the new government, there were several things that were promised during the election campaign that we can expect to see over the coming months. These include: ● A review of the Safeguard Mechanism that applies to companies that emit more than 100,000t of Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions a year and the Australian carbon credit system. The aim of these reviews are likely to gradually reduce the baselines for emitters, adding urgency to decarbonisation and improving the integrity of existing programs; ● An investment of $20 billion to modernise our energy grid. This includes enabling renewable technologies and battery production to support carbon-intensive industries. It is also likely to include a fund to invest in green metals. Industry reform is also likely to need mechanisms to enable regulatory frameworks to integrate renewables and exit coal fired generators; ● An investment of $200 million to build community batteries to enable electricity to be stored and drawn from. In addition, solar banks will be created for communities to also assist in bringing energy prices down; ● Support to develop onshore processing for critical minerals; ● A National Electric Vehicle Strategy to increase uptake of electric vehicles. This may include discounts, tax concessions and the manufacture of electric vehicle components locally; ● A review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth). This will hopefully give businesses more certainty about project approvals, processes and timeframes. It may also consider the nature of involvement that First Nations people have in the decision making process as well as the compliance and enforcement regime under the Act; ● The establishment of a national Environment Protection Agency that is responsible for compliance, assurance and environmental data and analysis; ● Additional funding to the Saving Native Species Program and the introduction of a national conservation strategy. This may also include the establishment of a National Water Commission; ● A move to new energy sources also requires additional skills and reskilling of those whose jobs are being retired. We’re likely to see investments made to upskill people for jobs in the renewables sector and certain areas of agriculture; and ● Improving resilience in the face of climate change is another important aspect of policy. This is likely to include a review of vulnerable government-owned assets and putting in place a Disaster Readiness Plan. In his speech as Prime Minister-elect, Anthony Albanese said that Australia will become a “renewable energy superpower”. Achieving this won’t be easy but we expect to see rapid developments in this space in the coming months. Related Articles Submission - DISER Consultation Paper December 2020 ‘Enhancing Australia’s decommissioning framework for offshore oil and gas activities’ COMMUNITY LEGAL RIGHTS IN MINE CLOSURE PLANNING; A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF THREE AUSTRALIAN STATES Professor Alex Gardner, University of Western Australia Law School, and Laura Hamblin, formerly research associate at the UWA Law School, 2021 Why does the Mining Act 1978 (WA) not provide secure legal rights for community consultation in relation to mining lease proposals and mine closure plans? Addressing this question presents an important theme for this comparative review of some core features of the regulatory frameworks for mine closure in three Australian States. It also raises important questions for future legal research. Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria have prominent but vastly different, and thus uniquely significant, mining industries. Western Australia’s mining industry has a long history of large and smaller scale mining of a diverse range of minerals by various methods that pose significant mine rehabilitation challenges.[i] Queensland’s mining industry is similarly large and diverse, dominated by export coal production, and planning future minerals development in a decarbonising world.[ii] Victoria has a smaller mining industry with a large historical legacy dominated by a coal mining industry for domestic electricity generation in the Latrobe Valley, which is closing as the State actively transitions to renewable power sources.[iii] These States also have significant differences in the regulation of their mining industries. What all three States do have in common is the significance of their mining industries to both the State economy and the communities who depend on or live near mining operations. Importantly, all three States are confronting large legal and regulatory challenges in managing mine rehabilitation and closure. The key to addressing these challenges is effective mine closure planning: the closure of a mine site has ripple effects that are not merely environmental and economic, but social and cultural too. The initial approval of a mine closure plan occurs before any mining has begun and, with the life cycle of a mine often spanning decades, regulatory bodies are approving hypothetical closure scenarios, potentially subject to vast changes. Regulatory bodies may then seek to enforce closure requirements enshrined in a plan that may wane in relevance as mining operations progress, the updating of which may depend on the miner. Yet remedying the regulatory system so that it creates adaptable but consistently effective mine closure outcomes for affected communities still begins at planning. Although that planning is an iterative process across the life of the mine, it is very important at the initial stage of approval. Recent legislative reforms in all three States are adding to the regulatory rigour and adaptability of mine closure planning, though there are very different legal requirements for community consultation. This article aims to explain and assess the regulatory reforms by undertaking a comparative analysis of mine closure planning across Western Australia, Queensland and Victoria, with a focus on the initial approval stage and how stakeholders and communities are brought into that process. The facilitation of continuous and comprehensive community engagement is critical to ensuring that mine closure planning accounts for environmental, economic, social, cultural and safety outcomes after mine closure, but it has not been possible to consider here the process of ongoing mine closure planning, especially for amending mine closure plans and determining satisfaction of mine closure plans leading to resource tenure relinquishment.[iv] The article begins by considering core concepts of mine closure planning and the regulatory goals that inform it. It then provides a comparative overview of each State’s mine closure planning requirements under the mineral resources, environmental and land use planning laws and draws out some of the different regulatory structures and processes for mine closure within each State. The third step in our analysis compares the ways in which those laws provide for local communities’ participation in mine closure planning, with specific attention to whether the regulatory provisions create legally enforceable rights for effective community engagement. The article concludes with a summary of the key points from the discussion of three themes in our analysis: (i) the importance of clear definitions of core concepts and key goals, (ii) mine closure planning as an essential part of a mining proposal, and (iii) the legal definition of community engagement and consultation rights. Mine closure planning and implementation is necessarily influenced by many other spheres of law including taxation law, investment law, water law, and the rights of traditional owners, to name a few. A potentially directly relevant Commonwealth law is the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), which may require environmental impact assessment of a mining proposal and closure plan and lead to approval conditions supplementing State requirements.[v] Whilst acknowledging the importance of these adjacent spheres of the regulatory frameworks for effective mine closure planning, this article does not attempt to address their impact. In particular, the rights of Traditional Custodians are a crucial part of mine closure planning that are only briefly noted here and that would benefit from future research. WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, Major Commodities Review 2022-23”. Qld Government, Department of Resources, Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, June 022. Vic Government, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy. See L Hamblin, A Gardner, Y Haigh, Mapping the Regulatory Framework of Mine Closure, May 2022, CRC TiME, for a broader exploration of the full life cycle of mine closure regulation. In Buzzacott v Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities  FCAFC 111; (2013) 214 FCR 301, , -, referring to the range of approval conditions, which included mine closure. In setting conditions under the EPBC Act, the Commonwealth Minister must consider any relevant conditions under State or Territory law: at  citing Lansen v Minister for Environment and Heritage (2008) 174 FCR 14. What to expect from Brazil’s new government On October 30, Brazil elected Luis Inaclo Lula da Silva (Lula) to be its new President. Lula will take over from President Jair Bolsonaro on 1 January 2023. During his campaign, Lula hinted at some reforms that would potentially impact the energy and mining sector, particularly in relation to his environmental and climate agenda. What to expect in 2022 Despite an unpredictable two years, the energy and resources sector has weathered tumultuous conditions and come through stronger. All signs indicate that 2022 and beyond will see strong growth in demand and exciting new developments. FORREST AND FORREST PTY LTD AND MINISTER FOR ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS  WASAT 28 Western Australia’s State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) has rejected a review, by Forrest & Forrest Pty Ltd, against the refusal of consent to impact an Aboriginal site in constructing weirs across the Ashburton River. A unanimous three-member panel published its decision in April 2023. SAT’s decision and reasoning has direct significance and use for anyone involved in processes for a s 18 consent under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 and broader relevance for the law around protection of Aboriginal heritage in Western Australia. With the WA Government announcing the reversal of recent statutory changes and a return to the 1972 legislation, SAT’s decision has increased relevance. How your organisation can benefit from government incentives now Eager to support business and protect jobs, governments at all levels have introduced measures and benefits for businesses. While there are many general benefits, like JobKeeper, that have been offered to many businesses, state governments are now offering opportunities to benefit specific industries and sectors including energy and resources. Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.