The Revolving Door

The revolving door between miners and government is a list of Australian politicians, ministers, senior government bureaucrats and advisors who've successfully moved into mining and energy roles - with seats on Boards or as paid advisors, lobbyists, CEOs or directors of mining companies.

The list highlights the close links between the companies that require approvals for mining projects to proceed, and the people in positions of influence who can facilitate or make favourable decisions about mining developments.

From Hired Guns to Hired Hands

Mining licences are meant to be approved after detailed Environmental Assessments (EA) have been undertaken. One problem with the EA system of all states is that they're undertaken by 'hired gun' consultants who rely largely or even entirely on the mining and gas industry for future work, and are consequently unlikely to emphasise the negative impacts of a project. In the wrong hands, with the wrong motives, EAs can become advocacy documents rather than an objective assessment of the project.

In Tasmania, MRT have acknowledged it will apply the best practice principles and resource eternal expertise.

A second problem is that the government departments responsible for assessing these EAs rarely, if ever, have adequate resources to do so properly, and are subject to industry and political pressure to get projects approved. One prominent example is the extremely controversial circumstances of the approval of the massive QCLNG and GLNG projects in Queensland, as exposed by the ABC 4 Corners program Gas Leak.

Regulatory Capture

Regulatory capture is where senior officials of government departments responsible for regulating projects become too close to industry and act more as industry advocates than objective regulators. Regulatory agencies appear to have become politicised, and their functions tend to serve the interests of the industry they oversee, instead of representing the public interest. Regulatory capture often walks hand-in-hand with undermining and winding back environmental protections that have been developed over many years to protect people and the environment they live in.

In the big picture, if we think about it, we wouldn't have polluted rivers, persistent toxins in our blood streams, species going extinct, and we certainly wouldn't be facing climate disruption and a climate emergency if environmental laws had worked.