With the coordination of State Government responses to the complex challenges in resource regions needing improvement and communication between State and local government on resource sector issues ambiguous, councils often struggle to manage resource industry impacts on their communities or capture the benefits.
One big challenge is the capacity of local governments to respond to multiple, overlapping, Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) processes during the most recent resources boom. Smaller local governments had neither the internal capacity not the budget to get the support needed to adequately respond to these processes. While market conditions are currently softer, now is the time to address these issues.
The LGAQ is working with KPMG to help identify improvements in the role of local governments in resource project assessment.
KPMG has examined seven case studies, including one project from Western Australia, and also met key agencies including the Coordinator General’s Office. Its draft report contains eight key strategies covering consistency in local impact assessment governance and impact identification. It also urges a ‘fit for purpose’ resourcing model in relation to responding to EIS requirements and a decision on whether local governments are willing to help facilitate community engagement.
The LGAQ has highlighted to Minister Anthony Lynham, Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines the issues raised by KPMG’s assessment. We will continue to do so to ensure local government is not just engaged, but empowered to take action in resource community planning.