Australia’s oil and gas industry has welcomed an announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to deliver new deregulation measures for Australian businesses.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said his government was focused on ‘busting the obstacles that slow down and even stop business investment and new job creation’.
“We want to create the space for businesses in our economy to back themselves and take our growth to the next level,” the Prime Minister said.
“Our Deregulation Agenda has a laser focus on reducing the regulatory compliance burden on business.”
“The reforms we’re delivering hone in on what we’ve been hearing directly from Australian businesses that will help them grow and employ more people.”
Most significant for the oil and gas industry is that the Prime Minister announced the development of a single digital environmental approvals process and biodiversity database.
Mr Morrison said the database would ‘help to get beneficial major projects up and running’ by transforming the approvals process, reducing approval times and bringing forward economic activity.
“Partnering with the Western Australian Government where there is a large pipeline of major projects coming forward over the next decade on the new system is a first step towards a consistent nationwide process and we will develop a biodiversity database, that can be rolled out nationally, to store and share information, which will also help speed up assessments,” he announced.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Chief Executive, Andrew McConville, said the announcement represents an important step forward to improve and modernise the environmental approvals framework, which is currently time consuming, costly and complex.
“The new deregulation measures will greatly improve the framework but more importantly, doing this partnership with the Western Australian government, means more cooperation, information sharing and alignment,” he said.
“This is crucial in reducing the duplicative regulatory burden on industry without lowering environmental protections.”
Mr McConville also said ensuring Australia remains an attractive destination for investment is crucial for delivering energy security and sustainability for domestic and export customers.
“Modernising and digitising the process means we will be able to maintain high environmental standards while improving certainty, consistency and transparency across agencies and jurisdictions,” he commented.
APPEA states that it will further engage in the design and use of the digital portal and database and in identifying further areas for improvements with the Deregulation Taskforce and within the review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act under Professor Graeme Samuel.
The other reforms announced by the Prime Minister include:
- A new online checklist – So employers know the exact steps to employing their first person. From minimum pay and conditions to tax and superannuation, and developing a new prototype ‘regtech’ platform to take employers step-by-step through the process of employing their first staff.
- Simplifying business registers – Modernising Australia’s business registers to make it easier and faster for business to interact with government, including upgrading and consolidating 32 separate business registers onto a single system. The new registry will allow businesses to view and manage their data in one location using a tell-us-once principle and lay the foundation stone for future ‘regtech’ initiatives.
- A modern export documents system – Replacing the existing paper-based system with a new online system so food exporters can get their product to market faster and more simply with more secure certification as well as establishing a new trade information service for business on how to export. Also expanding the Trusted Trader Program and Known Consignor Scheme to expedite the flow of cargo.