Reviews of the Woomera Prohibited Area Rule

Closed 9 Sep 2016

Opened 9 Aug 2016


The Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) military land testing range covers 122,000 square kilometres in north-west South Australia. In 2010–11, an Australian Government review of the WPA (the Hawke Review) recommended that while the Department of Defence should remain the primary user of the area, the WPA should be opened up for resources exploration to the maximum extent possible under a coexistence access management framework. The recommendation was made in recognition that the WPA covers around 12 per cent of South Australia and is highly prospective for minerals.

The Hawke Review’s coexistence model included the establishment of discreet access zones with pre-defined exclusion periods and the introduction of a statutory permit system, to be administered by a WPA Coordination Office jointly operated by the Commonwealth and South Australia under the general oversight of a high-level WPA Advisory Board.

The Woomera Prohibited Area Rule 2014 (the Rule) came into effect on 27 August 2014. It provides for new non-Defence users to access the WPA through a permit system. The Woomera Prohibited Area Coordination Office (WPACO) within Defence manages the Rule and non-Defence access to the WPA.

Non-Defence users who had permission to access the WPA before the Rule are not affected and remain subject to the provisions of the Defence Force Regulations 1952. These existing users include Aboriginal groups with interests in the WPA; pastoralists; the operating mines subject to deeds of access; the owner or operators of the Tarcoola to Darwin railway line; and South Australian Government employees or its agents.

Why We Are Consulting

In 2016, two reviews are under way to evaluate the effectiveness of the WPA Rule, including all policies and procedures, along with a review of the WPA Advisory Board. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science is working with the Department of Defence and the South Australian Department of State Development to ensure relevant stakeholder views are reflected.

  • Post-Implementation Review (PIR).

The PIR will examine whether the co-existence framework established by the WPA Rule has adequately delivered the recommendations of the Hawke Review. We are seeking submissions from past, current and prospective non-Defence users of the WPA subject to the Rule to inform this process.

  • Interim Rule Review

The interim review will focus on elements of the Rule that have the potential to affect long-term investment certainty for the resources industry in the WPA.

  • Review of the WPA Advisory Board

We are seeking stakeholder views and feedback on their experience with the WPA Advisory Board. The Board’s role is to: monitor and report on the balance of national security and economic interests in the WPA; oversee the implementation of the co-existence policy arrangements; and foster relationships between Defence and non-Defence users of the WPA.

The Australian Government will undertake a full review of the WPA co-existence framework in 2018, as agreed by the Australian Government following the Hawke Review. This review will consider findings from all interim reviews and again seek stakeholder views.


All submissions will be considered by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the Department of Defence and the South Australian Government to support the reviews.

Submissions will be published on the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s website unless you opt for your submission to be confidential.

Any information marked as confidential will not be disclosed or published as per your preferences.

A confidentiality form to assist in specifying your preferences can be downloaded below.


  • NGOs
  • Small business
  • Peak bodies
  • Sectoral stakeholders
  • Government stakeholders


  • Resources
  • Mining
  • Minerals