A review of Geoscience Australia by the Department of Finance and Deregulation has found that much of the agency’s work “amounts to a national prospectus for some of Australia's most lucrative natural resources.” 


The Review found that Geoscience Australia's activities complement those of other government agencies, but it called for more structured policy oversight of some activities, in particular the spatial data functions.


The Review found that the products and capabilities of Geoscience Australia (GA) support the Australian Government across a wide range of policies that address nationally significant challenges in the management and exploitation of Australia’s natural resources.  The Review also found the main activities of GA have a sound basis in serving the Australian Government’s interests in facilitating resource development.


The Review recommended improvements to strategic planning, priority setting and performance reporting to improve management of competing interests in the deployment of geoscience resources and capabilities.  The Review also recommended a review of the current process for allocating offshore acreage exploration permits – a process which GA currently supports by providing fundamental geological and geoscience information, similar to a ‘prospectus’, to potential investors in exploration permits.


Recent calculations show that Geoscience Australia's work under the Offshore Energy Security Program for the period June 2006 to June 2011 delivered a return on the Government's $75 million investment of $625 million in committed frontier exploration expenditure in acreage awarded to date, with an additional $1 billion for secondary work programs.


The full report of the Review of Geoscience Australia is available here.