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Rules streamlined to boost COVID-19 economic recovery

The State Government has turbocharged its Streamline WA regulatory reforms to aid economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reforms build on the sweeping changes to planning and environmental protection laws that recently passed State Parliament.

The Government will spend $2.25 million over the next two years to expand the Small Business Friendly Approvals Project to an additional 20 local governments. 

This follows successful pilot programs with the Cities of Canning and Stirling in 2019 undertaken by the Small Business Development Corporation.

The pilots delivered 61 recommendations to reduce approval timeframes, improve services and reduce costs for small businesses, making it easier for new businesses to open or existing businesses seeking to expand.

In addition, legislation will be introduced to amend four laws to simplify approval decisions for mining, tourism and other developments. 

Approvals processes will be improved across the Swan Canning Riverpark. Duplication will be removed from licencing and permit approval procedures and mapping processes will be streamlined to provide clarity and certainty for tourism operators.

A single approval instrument will be introduced to approve mining activities across multiple tenements. A new process for low impact exploration and prospecting activities will allow for automated approvals, subject to acceptance of standardised conditions.  

In response to industry feedback, duplication in environment reporting will be removed for mining projects, with one annual environment report required instead of the current requirement of up to three reports under three separate Acts.

Reporting frequency will be also reduced to biennial after three years for projects with satisfactory reporting. Reports will be published online to improve transparency and increase public confidence.

Key approvals agencies will roll into an online ‘one-stop shop’ for approvals through the wa.gov.au website from January 1, 2021 with more to follow from March 1, 2021.

The site will provide plain language guidance material for businesses and is user tested to ensure they are easy to follow.

Agencies will also be required to publish online performance data on approvals to ensure acceptable timelines are being met and to set targets for improvement where necessary.