The Earth Resources Department of the Victorian government are currently reviewing their 'Stakeholder Engagement Strategy". The strategy outlines how they will improve engagement with us in relation to resources extraction projects, including coal, gas and minerals.
Their draft is now available for public comment, and we think this is a fantastic time to let them know where they have been falling short, and how you need them to improve.
Please check here for details on making a submission.
The document and the questions are quite complicated, so just answer them honestly and as you understand them and they are relevant to you. They focus on the principles and commitments they've outlined to improve, but we think the most important thing to get across is What has your experience been with the department?
Our suggestion is:
Focus on Question 2 and the following questions:
"Do you think our principles and commitments match your expectations as a stakeholder"
Has the department been "proactive responsible and helpful" in your experience?
Have they been "clear, predictable and transparent"?
Have they been "accountable"?
Have they been "inclusive, equitable and respectful"?
If not, how can they improve on these things?
Friends of the Earth will also be emphasising the importance of:
- Timely, accurate and meaningful information must be given to all stakeholders, including community members and landholders directly affected by mining proposals. This should include not only comprehensive notification of exploration licenses or work plans, but also easily accessible information about the environmental, health and other risks of projects. It is important that this occur in the early stages of a proposal – including when a mining company is seeking an Exploration License.
Improved capacity for community decision making
- The most important stakeholder for any project is the community, because the community will need to live with the negative impacts of that proposal. Weight should be given to a community position or concerns regarding earth resources projects. How can this be legislated? How should the government respond where community polling has shown that there is no social licence for the project to proceed? As of May 2016, more than 70 Victorian communities have declared themselves coal and/or gasfield free after carrying out door knocking. Although these declarations have no legal power, they are strong community statements that specific proposals do not have social license to operate.
Risk based assessment should include a whole of community impact assessment addressing:
- Economic impacts - what would be the net economic benefit or impact? How has that been determined? How could the project impact the existing economy negatively?
- Social impacts
- Possible individual or public health impacts
- Comprehensive assessment of environmental impacts, including use of the precautionary principle
Fossil Fuel developments should no longer be approved, because of:
- Demonstrated comprehensive community opposition
- Environmental impacts, including impacts on water and air pollution
- Climate change impacts. At least 75% of known fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground if humanity is to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Writing a submission
The easiest way to make a submission is to write your comments directly into the comments form available here.
Just send a simple letter, and introduce who you are and where you’re based. Explain the issues you want to cover in the submission and send to:
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
Earth Resources Information Centre - Stakeholder Engagement Strategy Comments
GPO Box 4509
Melbourne VIC 3001
Submissions must be received before midnight, Monday 16 May 2016 to be considered.
Good luck, and feel free to call the department om 1300 366 356 or Chloe on 0432 328 107 if you have questions.