Key indicators of our success as a regulator are that: regulated entities know and comply with the rules; individuals and businesses have the confidence to operate in WA; better regulatory outcomes at a lower cost to the community; and public confidence is high in our areas of responsibility. Our role as regulator has resulted in the following significant achievements for 2017–18:
Thirty individual amendments were made to the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991. The type of work (notifiable work), which must be notified to the network operators was reviewed and new processes for notification of electrical work on transportable structures have also been introduced.
Most of the amendments aimed to either clarify some of the requirements in the regulations or to reduce the administrative burden on industry.
The proposed amendments will increase penalties for businesses, which commit safety offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984 (OSH Act) and the Mines Safety and Inspection Act 1994 (MSI Act). The amendments passed the Legislative Assembly on 8 November 2017 and are awaiting consideration by the Legislative Council.
The new penalties will be consistent with the national model Work Health and Safety Act and ensure penalties better reflect the importance of a safe workplace, with a further increase for inflation since 2010.
A Ministerial Advisory Panel (MAP) was established in July 2017 to develop modern safety and health laws for Western Australia, incorporating mines, petroleum and general workplace safety into one Act based on the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws. The WHS Act will be supported by separate regulations aligned to each industry segment. The MAP completed its task and their recommendations were released for public comment by the Minister on 30 June 2018.
Mining operations commenced in May 2018 at the McLarty site, which will help the Southwest region meet its future building and construction needs. This was made possible, for the first time in the State’s history, through the application of section 19 under the Mining Act 1978 (the Mining Act). In 2010, the State Government identified the need to address the rapidly decreasing access to building sand and gazetted a 32 kilometre-long sand rich Myalup State Forest under section 19 of the Mining Act. The Carbone Brothers of Brunswick Junction was awarded this mining lease through a competitive assessment and commenced working in the sand pit and marketing the sand locally.
Government was provided with an overview of Western Australia's gas resources and outlook for domestic gas supply, developed in collaboration with the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation. Adequacy assessment and reporting of the gas supply, via the Domgas Alliance, will occur on an annual basis.
An agreement was completed between the Australian Gas Infrastructure Group and the Minister for Mines and Petroleum, allowing the Tubridgi Underground Gas Storage Facility to commence its operations. Injection and subsequent recovery of gas is occurring in accordance with a Gas Measurement Plan.
Key indicators of our success as a service provider are that: we know and monitor our costs and keep them moderate; customers have fewer touchpoints when doing business with us; customers and staff find it easier to do business; and customers are satisfied with their treatment. Our role as service provider has resulted in the following significant achievements for 2017–18:
In 2016–17, the department rolled out eNotice, an online ICT application for the electronic submission of notices. The new application was well received by industry, and winning the most effective government solution award at the WA Information Technology and Telecommunications Alliance (WAITTA) at the 26th Annual WAITTA INCITE Awards.
By significantly reducing the manual effort required for completing, delivering, validating and managing paper notices, eNotice promised annual productivity improvements of at least $1million across industry.
During 2017–18, there were 246,695 Notices were issued using eNotice, resulting in estimated savings of at least $1.025 million for electrical contractors and gas fitters. Additional savings were also made from the significant reduction of paper notices and associated processing costs by the network operators.
As at 30 June 2018, 90 per cent of Notices sent to Western Power (electricity) and 79 per cent to ATCO (gas) are received from eNotice. In addition, the department receives 88 per cent of its notices for electricity and 79 per cent of notices for gas from eNotice.
Staying consistent with a Service Priority Review recommendation, the department reduced the number of whole-of-government labour relations policies and directives by 30 per cent. Those that remain will be rewritten to be principles-based, where possible, rather than prescriptive.
Key indicators of our success as a policy maker are that: business, community and industry behaviour supports policy intent; disruptors are identified early enough for pre-emptive policy action; intelligence is regularly shared and used for public benefit; and new ideas on how to address regulatory challenges are on the policy agenda. Our role as policy maker resulted in the following significant achievements for 2017–18:
The department provided extensive research and executive support to the Ministerial Review of the State Industrial Relations System between September 2017 and June 2018. This included the co-ordination of significant stakeholder input through submissions and roundtable meetings to assist the Review in developing recommendations for the reform of the State industrial relations system.
The department assisted in settling 20 industrial agreements covering almost 80,000 public sector employees within Wages Policy parameters without the need for arbitration. Agreement in principle has been secured for a further seven industrial agreements covering approximately 5,600 employees.
A Policy Statement for the Management of Accrued Leave in the Public Sector was issued in March 2018. It requires public sector employers to implement leave management strategies, which support employees in taking their accrued leave entitlements and assists in managing the State’s leave liability. The department continues to help public sector employers understand their industrial relations obligations and develop strategies that foster a workplace culture of employees taking regular leave.
Addressing issues of security of payments for subcontractors is a key policy priority for the State Government. In February 2018, an Industry Advisory Group was formed to facilitate industry consultation on legislative reforms, to improve payment protections for subcontractors and suppliers. Chaired jointly by barrister Mr John Fiocco and East Metropolitan Region MLC Matthew Swinbourn, membership comprises a wide range of industry and government stakeholders. Findings will be presented to the Minister towards the end of 2018.
The department also implemented a range of education and other initiatives to better inform and assist subcontractors in exercising their rights under the Construction Contracts Act 2004.
The Petroleum 2020 legislative reform initiative seeks to modernise and streamline the State’s petroleum and geothermal legislation to better reflect developments in the petroleum and geothermal industries. The primary focus of the project is to amalgamate the three main Petroleum Acts into a single Petroleum Act to cover Western Australia’s petroleum and geothermal operations. With the national focus on energy security, the department is investigating strategies that will secure gas supply for our State. It aims to improve efficiencies and identify opportunities to reduce regulatory burden while meeting community expectations for rigorous and transparent regulation. In 2018, following the restructure of the department, a new Petroleum 2020 Steering Committee and Working Group was established. This group is finalising the revised Discussion Paper which is intended to be released for stakeholder circulation.
On 4 December 2017, the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Hydraulic Fracturing) Regulations were gazetted. The Regulations implemented a legislated ban on fracking in the South West, Peel and Perth regions and imposed a moratorium across the rest of the State. The State-wide moratorium will be maintained pending the Government’s consideration of the scientific findings of the Independent Scientific Panel Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in Western Australia. The Department understands that the Independent Inquiry is scheduled to provide its findings and recommendations to the State Environment Minister by the end of 2018.
The department is the lead agency in the approval of closure and decommissioning plans, and has identified the need for clear industry guidance relating to its requirements for the decommissioning of oil and gas fields and facilities. The department is currently developing a discussion paper on petroleum decommissioning and liability which is anticipated to be ready for external agency and stakeholder consultation by September 2018. The department is working closely with Commonwealth petroleum regulators and industry in this process. It is intended that a final petroleum decommissioning and liability discussion paper will guide future legislative and regulatory reform in this area.
Drafting of the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Amendment Bill 2018 (the Bill) commenced during 2017–18. The Bill will implement the recommendations from the statutory review of the Residential Parks (Long-stay Tenants) Act 2006. The amendments will ensure certainty of contract and fair dealings between the parties to long-stay agreements. Consultation with key stakeholders also occurred during drafting to ensure that the proposed amendments operate as intended. It is anticipated that the Bill will be introduced during the Spring Parliamentary session 2018.