New Beattie government disbands Department of Mines and Energy

AMONG sweeping changes to the Queensland government post the Beattie election victory are the election of a new mines minister and the restructuring of the government bodies responsible for mining.

Staff Reporter

Previous Minister for Mines and Energy Tony McGrady, who held the mines portfolio for many years, has been transferred to the police portfolio. He is replaced by Stephen Robertson, who has been in parliament since 1992 and in cabinet for a year.

The Queensland mining industry’s main representative body, the Queensland Mining Council (QMC), welcomed the change, saying during the whole of McGrady’s second term in office he appeared at odds with CEOs in the mining industry.

“The relationship had broken down with broad sections of the industry,” said QMC chief executive Michael Pinnock.

Other issues contributing to dissatisfaction with the minister include a backlog of some 1900 exploration permit applications, which had accumulated over the past four years. Exploration spending has fallen by half in the past five years to an annual $83 million.

Other changes include the abolishment of the Department of Mines and Energy (DME) on February 22, making way for a restructured mines department in the state. The bulk of the DME’s responsibilities have been transferred to the newly created Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), formerly the Department of Natural Resources.

The first announcement of the reshuffling saw the whole of the Safety and Health Division transferred to the Department of Industrial Relations, but lobbying by various industry groups caused a rethink in government ranks. Safety and Health will now remain within Mines in the new DNRM.

Terry Hogan heads up the DNRM as director general. Reporting to Hogan are three deputy director generals for land, water and mines. The Mines division is headed by Bryan Coulter.

Pinnock said a draft petroleum safety act was on the table but the government was unsure of whether it would go to the Department of Industrial Relations or the DNRM.

The Resource Development Division, the Safety In Mines Testing And Research Station (SIMTARS) and that part of the DME responsible for providing corporate and executive support to the mines function will be transferred to the DNRM. The Electrical Safety Office goes to the Department of Industrial Relations.

The Energy Division, incorporating electricity and generation, will be transferred to the Treasury Department. The Office of Sustainable Energy will be transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency.