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Industry applauds PM’s fast tracking of approvals for new projects

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison

An industry body that represents mineral producers has congratulated the Federal Government’s plan to reduce the time it takes for a new project to be fully approved for construction.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) welcomed a variety of practical measures Scott Morrison introduced to help improve regulatory coordination and consistency while assessing or approving major projects in Western Australia.

“Regulatory complexity and duplication, including overlapping state and federal processes, delay minerals projects and reduce global competitiveness without improving environmental protection,” MCA CEO Tania Constable said in a public statement.

Plan to go national

The prime minister wants to establish a single digital environmental approvals process and biodiversity database. This is promised to help reduce approval times and bring forward economic activity. There is potential for the portal to be rolled out nationally to store and share information that could help speed up assessments. BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group are helping to develop the database.

“It takes approximately 3.5 years for a complex major project to navigate the state and commonwealth environmental assessment process,” Morrison said in a public statement. “This timeframe could be reduced by between six and 18 months through the better use of technology … allow[ing] project proponents to submit a single application via a single online portal, track its progress and access a database of biodiversity studies relevant to their project.”

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Deregulation prioritised

The Deregulation Taskforce is also working on ways to adopt technological or ‘regtech’ solutions that make it easier for business to affordably navigate and comply with regulatory requirements.

“The taskforce will continue to identify more reforms to help business,” Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ben Morton said in a public statement. “There is more work to do and the Deregulation Taskforce will report back in the New Year on further opportunities to reduce the regulatory burden focused on regulatory and legislative design and reduction.”

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