To whom it may concern:
The following comments from the Institute of Public Affairs are in relation to the context of the growth of red tape in Australia and are issues to be considered in any analysis of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Bill 2020.
The mining and resources sectors are vital to the Australian economy and way of life. They provide job creation, economic opportunity, investment, and the tax revenue required for critical public and social infrastructure such as schools, roads, and hospitals.
However, red tape and overregulation threaten the vitality of the mining and resources sector and job creation, business investment, and social progress. Modelling by the Institute of Public Affairs estimated that red tape costs the Australian economy $176 billion each year in terms of forgone economic output, which is the equivalent to approximately 10% of GDP.
The mining and resources sectors have been fundamental to Australia’s prosperity and way of life and, by providing an engine for opportunity, have helped sustain Australia as one of the world’s oldest continual democracies.
Democracies require citizens who are self-governing, aspirational, and who have a stake in the success of the economy and their own futures to survive and thrive. In practice this means having access to economic opportunity and work which allowed for the formation of self-sustaining families and communities with widespread home ownership, which are vital pre-requisites to successful self-governing nations.
In 2018-19 the resources sector directly and indirectly supported 452,299 full-time jobs in Western Australia alone, or 34.1% of all employment in the state. Over the past 20 years employment growth in the mining sector has outpaced every other sector in the Australian economy by a substantial margin. Since 2000 employment in the mining sector has grown by approximately 180%, which is around 9% per year, compared with overall annual employment growth of 2.5%.
Moreover, the three sectors following the mining sector in terms of employment growth are either predominately or entirely in the public sector – health care, education, and public administration. Employment created in the mining sector, by contrast, is almost exclusively in the private sector. Indeed, employment in those sectors is in large part enabled by the success of Australia’s mining sector which provides the tax revenue and royalties required to build schools, hospitals, and roads.
Much of this regulation and red tape disproportionately effects the mining and resources sectors – the very sectors that create so many jobs and opportunities for Australians.
For example, analysis by the IPA estimated that regulations contained in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) have increased by 445% since the Act was introduced in the year 2000.
IPA modelling has also estimated that one provision in the EPBC Act alone, Section 487, has put $65 billion of investment at risk through enabling green activists groups to hold projects up in court for a cumulative total of 10,100 days, or 28 years, since the year 2000.
All Australian jurisdictions at a state, territory and Commonwealth level provide some level of statutory protection for Aboriginal cultural heritage. While the level of protection varies by jurisdiction, all provide definitions of and provisions to protect Aboriginal heritage with respect to places and objects; exceptions to protection, particularly where agreed to by Aboriginal groups and approved by the relevant minister; and avenues for appeal. A full list of Australian legislation which is specifically directed towards the protection of Aboriginal heritage is provided below:
· Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Commonwealth)
· Heritage Act 2004 (ACT) · Heritage Objects Act 1991 (ACT)
· Heritage Act 1977 (NSW)
· National Parks and Wildlife Amendment (Aboriginal Ownership) Act 1996 (NSW)
· Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1989 (Northern Territory)
· Heritage Conservation Act 1991 (Northern Territory)
· Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Queensland)
· Torres Strait Islander Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Queensland)
· Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (South Australia)
· Aboriginal Relics Act 1975 (Tasmania)
· Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 (Victoria)
· Heritage Act 1994 (Victoria)
· Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (Victoria)
· Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (Western Australia)
Furthermore, other legislation may also protect heritage places more broadly. For instance, the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 includes ‘national heritage places’ as a Matter of National Environmental Significance and therefore can be subject to protection under national environmental law.
The growth of regulation identified above has resulted in significant costs to the resources sector, and employees in the sector, with minimal tangible benefit. These duplications impose direct costs on proponents, such as the time and money spent on formatting the exact same content differently to be submitted to different departments, as well as causing significant costs by delaying projects. As explained by the Productivity Commission in its Resources Sector Regulation Draft Report, project delays “can dwarf the direct costs of regulatory obligations such as assessment documentation and studies, even though these often run into millions of dollars.”
Executive Director – Institute of Public Affairs