Roles and Responsibilities

Who is responsible for regulating resources projects?

Australia’s mineral and petroleum (oil and gas) resources are owned by the Australian, state or territory governments on behalf of the Australian people and are extracted by private investors. The benefits of developing these resources are returned to the community through the payment of royalties (taxes) to the state, territory or Australian governments.

Responsibility for regulating resource projects is divided between the Australian and state and territory governments.

The Australian, state and territory governments cooperate and collaborate on issues that affect the resources sector, drive economic reforms and improve business conditions as well as addressing issues that affect all Australians, like gas supply. For information about cooperation across government please see councils and working groups.

Australian Government

The Australian Government is responsible for the country’s overarching investment framework and regulating offshore resources.

It sets national policies that affect Australia’s investment environment, like what taxes apply and when, foreign investment rules, Free Trade Agreements and the use of overseas workers. These policies are designed to ensure our resources are developed safely, sustainably and in a way that benefits the community, while maintaining Australia as an attractive destination for investment.

The Australian Government’s direct roles in the resources sector include:

  • Regulating offshore oil, gas and mineral activities in Commonwealth waters (from three nautical miles from the coastline to the limit of our Exclusive Economic Zone)
  • Imposing export controls on rough (uncut) diamonds, uranium and related nuclear materials and liquefied natural gas (LNG) consistent with Australia’s national interests and international obligations
  • Assessing the environmental impacts of certain resources projects under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which operates in addition to and alongside state and territory environmental laws.
  • Enabling growth and productivity for a globally competitive resources industry, including providing grants and assistance for business through

State and territory governments

State and territory governments regulate most aspects of the resources sector within their borders, including environmental, cultural and natural heritage matters. They are responsible for the day-to-day regulation and administration of most resource projects.

State and territory governments own and administer mineral and petroleum licences over land and in coastal waters (out to three nautical miles from the coast). They also establish land use regimes, or set out the areas deemed suitable for resource activity.

State and territory governments:

  • Award minerals and petroleum exploration and development licences
  • Assess environmental and, if required, social and economic impacts of specific resources activities
  • Grant approvals for specific exploration and development activities and monitor compliance with approval conditions
  • Regulate health and safety at mine sites
  • Impose and collect royalties on the minerals and petroleum produced.

Local Governments

Local governments are established by state and the Northern Territory governments. They regulate and manage services and activities for local communities, and assess and approve land developments within their local government boundaries.


The Australian Government’s key legislation for regulating oil and gas exploration and development activities in Commonwealth waters is the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006. The Act establishes the Offshore Petroleum Joint Authorities, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Management Authority (NOPTA) and National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPSEMA).

Similarly, the Offshore Minerals Act 1994 establishes a regulatory regime for the exploration and production of minerals in Commonwealth waters.

Related Pages

More information

To find out more about the States and the Northern Territory regulatory frameworks please visit:



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