Legal Perspectives from EDO Tasmania
20 August 2014 : Blaming appeals for Venture delays misleading
On 19 August 2014, Venture Minerals advised the ASX that it was suspending operations at its Riley Creek mine, citing dropping commodity prices and ongoing legal costs. In response, the Minister for Resources, amongst others, has been quick to repeat their intention to “crack down” on third party appeals.
Federal member for Braddon, Brett Whiteley, is quoted as saying:
people like Save the Tarkine just will not take the umpire’s decision. It’s a disgrace.
Courts and Tribunals exist to act as an independent ‘umpire’ on resource management decisions, free of political pressures that can influence approval decisions by government agencies. Access to such an umpire by all stakeholders (including industry) improves the rigour of planning and environmental approval processes.
The current planning system was created by the Liberal Groom government in the 1990s, and expressly encourages public involvement in decisions about the way natural resources are used. Despite relatively broad standing provisions, the Planning Institute says Tasmania boasts amongst the fastest average approval times for planning applications in the country.
There is no evidence that third party appeals are the cause of undue delays in our planning system. Politically motivated attacks on appeal rights deflect from the need to engage in genuine, practical efforts to improve the planning process for all Tasmanians. The work of the Planning Reform Taskforce provides an opportunity for a more strategic approach to addressing this.
For commentary on significant economic factors actually influencing mining decisions, read this article.