Important enough to stand alone
The new Department for Energy and Mining.
South Australia is now home to the Department for Energy and Mining. Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, told an official launch he aspired for the agency to be the best government department in Australia, one that earns a reputation for delivery on stakeholder expectations and partners with industry to make an ever-growing contribution to the South Australian economy.
Headed by Dr Paul Heithersay PhD, BSc (Hons), PSM, the new department (see figure below) has been tasked with reducing energy costs to create more jobs and grow exports. The department will also work to improve energy reliability and reduce emissions from generation. The department will ensure mineral and energy companies can responsibly access and develop the state’s mineral and petroleum resources.
The former Department of Mines and Energy had a long history in South Australia, a remnant of which was retained in the name of this publication, MESA Journal. The Geological Survey of South Australia began as the Geological Office of the South Australia Colony in 1882. For most of its 136-year history, the Geological Survey resided within the department responsible for mines, although its ambit extends beyond the search for minerals for commercial extraction to collecting, managing and delivering knowledge of our state’s geology.
In 1997, the Department of Mines and Energy was merged with Primary Industries. In the 21 years since that decision, resources were first grouped with agriculture, then combined in a broad industry portfolio within the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE). Skills and training were added to create a Department of State Development (DSD) before resources and energy were spun off to the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) in 2017.
Energy trod a different path. From 1946 until the 1990s, generation, transmission and distribution was the responsibility of the Electricity Trust of South Australia. In the 1990s, ETSA’s generation, transmission and distribution elements were disaggregated and privatised in 2000. Sagasco, the state’s upstream, distribution and retail business, was sold to Boral, which merged the distribution businesses into ASX-listed Envestra. Origin Energy acquired the upstream and retail interests.
Post-privatisation, South Australia’s energy division focused on managing the state’s participation in the National Energy Market and regulating electrical, plumbing and gas fitting services through the Office of the Technical Regulator. Many years with the Department of Transport, Infrastructure and Energy ended with the division’s transfer to DMITRE, DSD and then DPC. In the latest changes, the Low Carbon Economy Unit and Energy Plan Implementation Team have been incorporated into the Energy and Mining portfolio.
The new department is already providing input into the National Energy Guarantee discussion, the Commonwealth review of Woomera Prohibited Area access arrangements and the Resources 2030 Task Force. Work on updating the Mining Act 1971 continues with a Bill due in Parliament this year.
A new name means a new website and a new logo. Much of the department has relocated to a central office in Waymouth Street, Adelaide, and phone numbers were recently updated to Skype for Business. Access to SARIG, the South Australian Resources Information Gateway, the general inquiries phone number and GPO Box remain unchanged.
Department for Energy and Mining
Level 4, 11 Waymouth Street, Adelaide SA
GPO Box 320, Adelaide SA 5001
Phone +61 8 8463 3000
– Owen Brown, August 2018