The National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (the NPA) was entered into in 2012 between the Australian Government and state governments of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia (the Parties).
The overarching objective of the NPA was to strengthen the regulation of coal seam gas and large coal mining development by ensuring that future decisions are informed by substantially improved science and independent expert advice. To achieve this objective, the NPA provided for the following outcomes:
- increased evidence supports strategic and regional scale management of coal seam gas and large coal mining developments and their impact on water resources
- strengthened scientific evidence and independent expertise informs regulatory decisions on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments that are likely to have a significant impact on water resources
- well informed communities have greater confidence in Commonwealth and state regulation of coal seam gas and large coal mining development.
To support the implementation of these reforms, the Australian Government provided the state governments with over $49 million over the period 2011–12 to 2013–14. The NPA committed the Australian Government and signatory state government regulators to seek, and take into account in a transparent manner, the IESC’s advice on the potential impacts on water resources before taking regulatory decisions on proposed coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.
While the NPA was in effect until 30 June 2014, the resulting legislative and regulatory arrangements put in place by the Australian and state governments ensure that its objective continues to be met.
The NPA included a number of performance benchmarks that were linked to the financial contributions made to each state. Achievement of these benchmarks were assessed by the former Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Reform Council. These COAG Reform Council's assessment reports are available from the Council’s archived website:
The Parties have also jointly prepared a report to satisfy the requirement identified in Clause 21 of the agreement, namely that “Parties will report....on their performance in referring applications to the IESC between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014.”
The NPA requires the Parties to commission and publish an independent review of the operation and achievements of the NPA. This review was undertaken by Mr Stephen Hunter.
The independent review finds that the actions taken by the Parties have strengthened the regulation of coal seam gas and large coal mining development by enhancing the extent to which decisions have been informed by improved science and independent expert advice. The report further recognises that additional work can be done by the Parties to more fully realise the objective of the Agreement, and provides a number of recommendations to this effect.
- Independent Review of National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (PDF - 1.41 MB) | (DOCX - 1.11 MB)
The Parties have jointly prepared a response to the review's recommendations. The Parties intend to continue to work together to ensure that the outcomes of the Agreement have enduring effect.
- Response to the findings of the Independent Review of the National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development
To inform the review, the Department of the Environment provided a submission to Mr Hunter demonstrating how actions taken by the Commonwealth, in collaboration with the signatory states to the NPA, are contributing to the achievements of the NPA’s outcomes.