1. Audit context

Bushfires are a naturally occurring feature of Australia’s landscape and can significantly impact people, property and the environment.

Australia’s southern states, including Victoria, are the most bushfire-affected areas in the country.

Appendix A. Submissions and comments

We have consulted with DELWP, DJPR, EPA, GBCMA and LVMRC and we considered their views when reaching our audit conclusions. As required by the Audit Act 1994, we gave a draft copy of this report, or relevant extracts, to those agencies and asked for their submissions and comments. We also provided a copy of the report to the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Department of Treasury and Finance.

DJPR and DELWP accepted all the recommendations addressed to them. The audit did not address recommendations to EPA, GBCMA and LVMRC.

4. Regulator readiness

Conclusion

ERR’s actions—particularly over the last 18 months—have begun to address identified weaknesses in its regulatory approach and improve its management of longstanding issues with the rehabilitation of mines and quarries.

However, ERR has further work to do to ensure its policies and guidance documents and its information management system provide the necessary instruction, data and processes to support it to be an effective regulator and reduce risk to the state from unrehabilitated mine and quarry sites.

2. Rehabilitation liabilities

Conclusion

ERR has not effectively regulated rehabilitation bonds, meaning the state is financially exposed to significant costs for site rehabilitation. The amount ERR holds in bonds is likely to be at least $361 million short of the estimated cost of rehabilitating Victoria’s existing mines and quarries.

ERR cannot demonstrate that it ensures sites have been rehabilitated, as required, before returning the bond to operators. This includes ensuring that the state has no remaining liability.

1. Audit context

Victoria has a long history of mineral and quarry exploration. Since the Ballarat gold rush started in 1851, Victoria has produced over 2 400 tonnes of gold. This accounts for 32 per cent of all gold mined in Australia and almost 2 per cent globally.

Victoria is also rich in other minerals, such as coal, silver, gemstones and heavy mineral sands, and in extractive resources, including rock, gravel, limestone and clay.

Appendix A. Submissions and comments

We have consulted with DELWP and Parks Victoria, and we considered their views when reaching our audit conclusions. As required by the Audit Act 1994, we gave a draft copy of this report, or relevant extracts, to those agencies and asked for their submissions and comments.

Responsibility for the accuracy, fairness and balance of those comments rests solely with the agency head.

Responses were received as follows: