“Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas says the rising cost of major projects is keeping him awake at night” Herald Sun article
MY POLICY INITIATIVE
This Latrobe Quarry Licence Policy Initiative seeks commitment to improve the current State Government process surrounding licensing applications and approvals, to ensure our local quarry industry is secure for the long-term, and businesses can plan for their future.
In the Morwell electorate, we have a thriving quarry industry, with many successful organisations and stable employers such Maryvale Sands, Matthews Quarries, Latrobe Valley Blue Metal and Latrobe Valley Sands. This industry employs over 200 local people, and could double their operations and their staff overnight, if they could secure new and updated licences they have applied for in months previous – they already have the customer demand for this material.
These local businesses are not only critical to our local economy: but that of our State. The Construction Materials Processors Association (CMPA) recently stated, “In excess of 60% of construction material supply throughout regional and outer metropolitan Victoria is from small to medium entities” but our SME’s are struggling to expand with current constraints and delays. They do not have the guarantee of supply of the raw materials they need to grow, due to the complex and lengthy approval process from the State Government.
In addition, the Governments’ own department have been non-compliant in meeting statutory timeframes with some applications, and have faced subsequent legal issues at VCAT. We need to prioritise our local regional Victorian industry, and provide our own businesses the competitive edge to achieve the great things they are destined to do, in our economy. Without better Government support and intervention, material will have to be imported from other States, costs will rise and jobs will be lost.
I am proposing a Latrobe Quarry Licence Policy Initiative, that seeks to create a streamlined, locally based approval process for applications for resource extraction by the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR). It would create a more streamlined communications process between this department, Council’s and the other regulatory agencies involved, to reduce red and green tape delays.
It appears that delays and non-decisions occur because various Departments operate in silos, and a lack of expertise and industry experience in addition to regular staff turnover has led to a diabolical and frustrating approvals processes. State Government department and agencies in consort with all other relevant authorities, must be required to work together on a local basis to achieve decisions and outcomes in a reasonable timeframe.
This would ensure the contact required with local authorities could be made more efficiently and access to the sites involved, more practical. In addition, there is basically no penalty that applies to Departments that breech their own statutory timeframes. One solution might be that the applicant be reimbursed by the Department for the considerable costs they incur when submitting an application, if the Department can’t meet its own statutory obligations.
The Latrobe Valley must be allowed the opportunity to advance and expand, and overcome its recent setbacks and challenges in the wake of Hazelwood, CHH and Target closures. With the introduction of the Latrobe Quarry Licence Policy, I am standing with local businesses, quarry owners and their workforce, who deserve to see their futures secure and lose these crippling barriers to genuine progress.