Submission to Resources Sector Regulation Productivity Commission

31 October 2019

If corruption occurs in the Australian mining sector, the potential costs to the sector are significant.

Therefore, it is necessary that the mining approvals processes across Australia have mechanisms in place in order to prevent corruption from occurring and ensure that the Australian mining sector is productive and trusted.

Whilst Australia is a mature mining jurisdiction, our research found that several corruption risks exist within the mining approvals processes of WA and Qld.

Of particular note, I draw your attention to the following corruption risks that the research identified:

  • In both WA and Qld, there is a high risk that there is inadequate due diligence on applicants’ integrity (such as past unlawful conduct and compliance) and the applicants’ beneficial owners. More details about this corruption risk can be found in the full report, specifically: o For WA pages 20-21
    • For Qld Mining Leases page 28, and Coordinated Projects page 30
    • As a cross cutting issue across both WA and Qld pages 50-52
  • For Coordinated Projects in Qld, there is a risk that there is no verification of the accuracy of environmental impact statements. More details about this risk can be found in the full report on pages 33-35; and
  • For Coordinated Projects in Qld, there are concerns about the independence and discretionary power of the Coordinator General, creating a risk of external influence in the Coordinator General’s recommendations, evaluations and imposition of conditions. More detail about this risk can be found in the full report on pages 31-33.

In addition, the research noted the following risks:

  • Inconsistent transparency in agreement-making, particularly with State Agreements in WA and between native title parties and mining companies;
  • Inadequate protection of whistleblowers in the broader State and Commonwealth regulatory framework for mining approvals;
  • State capture and cumulative risks including inadequate regulation of political donations and lobbyists, the movement of staff between government and industry (revolving doors), and the culture of mateship that can enable inappropriate influence to occur and is a corruption vulnerability; and
  • High risk that those negotiating with a mining company on behalf of a Native Title Party will not represent community members’ interests.