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- Start of Business
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Briggs, Jamie, MP, Bowen, Chris, MP)
(Sidebottom, Sid, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
(Morrison, Scott, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Thomson, Craig, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Forrest, John, MP, Abbott, Tony, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Danby, Michael, MP, Combet, Greg, MP)
(Katter, Bob, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
(Leigh, Andrew, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Abbott, Tony, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
(Fitzgibbon, Joel, MP, Smith, Stephen, MP)
(Stone, Dr Sharman, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
(Vamvakinou, Maria, MP, Macklin, Jenny, MP)
(Ley, Sussan, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
(Thomson, Kelvin, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
(Cobb, John, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
(Brodtmann, Gai, MP, Garrett, Peter, MP)
Home Insulation Program
(Hunt, Gregory, MP, Combet, Greg, MP)
Violence against Women
(Parke, Melissa, MP, Ellis, Kate, MP)
National Education Standards
(Pyne, Chris, MP, Garrett, Peter, MP)
Donations to Political Parties
(Melham, Daryl, MP, Gray, Gary, MP)
- Asylum Seekers
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- DEPARTMENT OF PARLIAMENTARY SERVICES
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- PARLIAMENTARY RETIRING ALLOWANCES TRUST
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
- STANDING ORDERS
- NATIONAL HEALTH AMENDMENT (PHARMACEUTICAL BENEFITS SCHEME) BILL 2010
CIVIL DISPUTE RESOLUTION BILL 2010
FOOD STANDARDS AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND AMENDMENT BILL 2010
TRADEX SCHEME AMENDMENT BILL 2010
OFFSHORE PETROLEUM AND GREENHOUSE GAS STORAGE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (MISCELLANEOUS MEASURES) BILL 2010
OFFSHORE PETROLEUM AND GREENHOUSE GAS STORAGE (SAFETY LEVIES) AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- OFFSHORE PETROLEUM AND GREENHOUSE GAS STORAGE (SAFETY LEVIES) AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- SUPERANNUATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPTION AND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- AIRPORTS AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- Adult Education
- Murray Electorate: Echuca Hospital
- Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources
- Murray-Darling Basin
- Fadden Electorate: School Choirs
- Kingston Electorate: McLaren Vale Regional Awards
Ms Sally Chatfield
- Page Electorate
- Ryan Electorate: Building the Education Revolution Program
- Redcliffe Relay for Life
- Start of Business
- Swan Electorate: Roads
- International Development Assistance
- Fadden Electorate: Health Services
- Corio Electorate: Historic Churches
- Indi Electorate: Telecommunications
- Bradfield Electorate: Coeliac Society
- Fraser Electorate: Ride to Work Day
- Macquarie Electorate: Lachlan Macquarie
- Robertson Electorate: Davistown Putt Putt Regatta
- PROTECTION OF THE SEA LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- INTERNATIONAL TAX AGREEMENTS AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 2) 2010
NATIONAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON LAW ENFORCEMENT BILL 2010
- PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON LAW ENFORCEMENT BILL 2010
- OZONE PROTECTION AND SYNTHETIC GREENHOUSE GAS MANAGEMENT AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- PRIMARY INDUSTRIES (EXCISE) LEVIES AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- ST MARY OF THE CROSS
- DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Mr BALDWIN (7:09 PM) —I rise to address the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2010 together with the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Safety Levies) Amendment Bill 2010. These bills will make changes to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Safety Levies) Act 2003 to establish transitional arrangements. These will run from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2012 and will allow for the Commonwealth to collect safety case levies in designated coastal waters. These bills will also allow a safety case to be enacted for a facility that has a pipeline in designated coastal waters and will allow the states and Northern Territory to enact provisions in their respective legislations to reflect these national changes.
These bills are especially pertinent to my constituents in the electorate of Paterson. Currently Advent Energy is preparing to start exploratory drilling for natural gas off the coast of New South Wales. That includes drilling just 10 kilometres off the coastline and into my electorate at Port Stephens from next month. According to the geophysical site survey, Advent Energy will test four locations, each with an area of about nine square kilometres. Location 1 is at 32 degrees 55 minutes latitude, 152 degrees 22 minutes longitude. Location 2 is at 33 degrees eight minutes latitude, 152 degrees five minutes longitude. Location 3 is at 33 degrees nine minutes latitude, 151 degrees 54 minutes longitude. Location 4 is at 33 degrees 25 minutes latitude, 151 degrees 42 minutes longitude. If successful, the exploration could lead to a sizeable offshore gas extraction project within the next decade. Reserves are currently valued at approximately $50 billion. Advent Energy has secured its exploration permit under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006, one of the very acts that this bill seeks to amend.
In particular, as I have mentioned, one of the functions of this amendment will be to help ensure that the safety authority can collect levies to fund its safety operations. The authority plays an important role in enforcing Australia’s safety laws and ensuring that private companies comply with all the relevant legislation. I was able to witness this role firsthand during my personal experience with the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority a year from its inception on 1 January 2005 because I was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources from 2006 to 2007, with responsibility for NOPSA. Utilising the higher safety standards needs to be absolutely paramount during future gas drilling and pipeline projects.
After all, much of Australia’s way of life is built around the beauty and health of our beaches, oceans and marine life. Industries such as tourism also rely heavily on the quality of our coastline. It is therefore central to the greater national economy. Indeed, one of the things I love most about living in the electorate of Paterson is being able to go to the beach, have a swim, do some fishing. I truly believe that we have some of the best coastal spots in the whole world and that is why it is vital we protect our coast. Importantly, this is a matter for all levels of government, as the act is administered by both federal and New South Wales government authorities. Local councils also play a large role in coastal management and will therefore be impacted by legislation relating to our seas.
Unfortunately, gas pipelines do pose some environmental threats. Those threats involved in Advent Energy’s proposal off Newcastle have been detailed in a confidential report to the New South Wales government. However, despite the fact that this is the first project of its kind off New South Wales, the state Labor government has refused to make the details public. I am a firm believer in consultation and making decisions with all of the information available. Proper research and science, combined with advice from local people who know their local area, are the only way to truly make a decision in the best public interest. It is for this reason that I would urge the New South Wales government to immediately release the confidential report to my constituents.
In the meantime I look to the information which has become publicly available. An article in the Newcastle Herald by Damon Cronshaw published on 11 October reads:
A confidential report on an exploratory gas drilling project off the coast of Newcastle has revealed the proposal’s potential environmental risks, including the possibility of oil spills.
The NSW Government refused to release the report, saying it did not have to be made public under Commonwealth law.
But the Newcastle Herald has obtained a copy, which details the plan’s potential risks to the environment and the possibility of an oil spill.
The article goes on to list a number of environmental risks and potential effects of Advent Energy’s projects. Those include an oil spill that will last for up to 11 weeks; a whale collision which would threaten workers’ lives; physiological damage to the sensitive marine fauna from underwater noise; chemical, oil and diesel spills which would have a toxic effect on marine organisms; and discharges 15 to 20 degrees above ambient sea temperature, which would dramatically impact on marine life .Obviously, these issues are deeply concerning to my constituents in Paterson. As a former dive operator and keen offshore fisherman myself, I am also committed to the importance of marine protection and biodiversity.
The Executive Director of Advent Energy, David Breeze, was quoted in the Newcastle Herald in the aforementioned article as saying that the company was ‘very confident the risks are being adequately addressed’. This may very well be the case; however, without seeing the report my community is unable to make an informed decision. I myself have not been invited to any consultation sessions despite being in the immediately affected area. However, I am in the process of seeking an invitation to any further community consultation forums.
I found it important today to note my concerns with offshore gas drilling projects and the lack of transparency currently being executed by the New South Wales and Australian Labor governments. However, it is important for me to also note that I am not opposed outright to gas drilling. This is because, if executed correctly, natural gas projects present a number of opportunities both in New South Wales and across the nation as a whole.
The use of gas as an energy source certainly has potential to benefit our environment and I support the moves to broaden Australia’s energy sources. Certainly, the Australian community has become much more aware of its contribution to greenhouse gases and is keen to limit the impact on the environment. You have only to take a look at the take-up of solar power, recycling programs and gas hot water systems to see that people are keen to do what they can to be more environmentally friendly.
Of course, the coalition and the Gillard Labor government are deeply divided about the best way to limit Australia’s carbon emissions. The coalition has advocated an incentives based approach which educates people and rewards them for reducing carbon emissions. The Gillard Labor government, on the other hand, seems to think that the big new tax will somehow get the Australian public to look after their environment. So, while our methods deeply vary, we are united in the opinion that we have been blessed with an amazing part of the world and we should be taking care of it in the best way we can.
It is therefore important when assessing the future of natural gas to consider its advantages. For example, natural gas produces approximately 65 per cent fewer emissions than brown or black coal. On top of that, it also has fewer contaminants than coal or oil. Thus, natural gas has the potential to play an important role in the future energy needs of New South Wales, which currently relies most heavily on coal-fired power stations. The Keneally state Labor government has itself called on private companies to invest more in gas projects and has approved plans for two new gas-fired power stations.
Clearly, Australia’s governments are moving towards the use of natural gas, but that is not the issue. The issue here today is the safety of the gas projects and ensuring the safety authority has the tools it needs to protect our seas—the ocean floor, shore line and marine life. I am convinced that the only way to achieve it is to make sure that the process is open and transparent.
As the member for Paterson, it is my job to represent the views of my constituents. However, unless my constituents have all of the tools to form their own opinions and conclusions, I simply cannot do so. That is why I am here today echoing their calls for more information on offshore drilling and the safety processes in general. One letter I received from a constituent detailed a meeting held by the community in Boat Harbour on this issue. It was attended by more than 100 people. The main concern at the meeting was the lack of consultation by state and federal Labor governments regarding the offshore drilling legislation.
In the last couple of months I have also spoken with a number of people regarding the future of offshore drilling and safety measures involved. As a part of these talks, many of my constituents have mentioned the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill, which occurred earlier this year. It has now become known as the biggest offshore oil spill in US history. Of course, this event was extraordinary. It devastated marine and bird life and resulted in large quantities of water being completely overtaken by oil. It has cost billions of dollars and the long-term effects will not be known for some time to come. Its impacts have been widely reported in news items across the globe.
Still being so fresh in people’s minds, and with offshore drilling such a new concept for many residents in New South Wales, there is a definite feeling within my electorate of Paterson that we too could be faced with a similar reality if safety is not paramount in future drilling projects. Similar fears were detailed in a report by the Newcastle Herald on 13 October, listing four scenarios that could cause an oil spill as part of Advent Energy’s exploratory drilling using the Ocean Patriot drilling rig. These four scenarios are a refuelling incident, collision, subsea blow-out, and subsea rupture. The Port Stephens Examiner also detailed local concerns in an article by Nikki Taylor published on 13 October. I quote:
Port Stephens Council is to have an input on the NSW government-sanctioned committee to oversee exploratory drilling off the coast.
With drilling expected to get underway off the coast of Boat Harbour next month, there has been a growing concern from environmental groups and affected councils. The drilling project, conducted by Asset Energy, could lead to a significant offshore gas extraction project valued at $50 billion.
Concerns have been raised that drilling could have a negative impact on migratory and threatened species including marine turtles, whales, sharks, fish and birds.
As well, one of the reports raises fears about a potential threat from oil spills.
Earlier this year both Wyong and Gosford councils raised concerns with Gosford strongly objecting to the plans because there have been no social, economic or environmental assessments carried out. Port Stephens general manager Peter Gesling said the council had only in the past few weeks been asked to become a part of the consultative committee.
“The council has no authority over this project, we can however offer our view to the state government who will consider them along with other community and industry concerns,” he said.
Nelson Bay-based environmental group Econetwork has confirmed its opposition to the venture.
“We expressed to the minister in August 2008 that we were appalled by the audacity of the application,” group secretary Darrell Dawson said.
Without more information on the likelihood of these events and the contingency plans created by Advent Energy, we simply do not have the tools to allay such fears to the level demanded and deserved by our community. We also open ourselves up to a scare campaign which could undermine the very safety activities currently being promoted by the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Safety Levies) Amendment Bill.
I support moves to increase the success and activities of NOPSA, which is sure to play an increasing role in the natural gas industry. Continued funding for the safety authority therefore needs to be protected through appropriate levies. However, just as the federal government has placed its focus on compliance activities, Prime Minister Gillard must also ensure that public education does not lag behind. Offshore gas projects look certain to increase in number and the community deserves to know what that means for our coast and what it means for the future of power supply in the country. As I said, I am not opposed to this project; I am actually opposed to the lack of information being provided to the community. It is incumbent upon Advent Energy and the state and federal governments, which substantially will be rewarded from this project, to embark on a process of public consultation and education. Failure to do so will only build deeper and stronger community resentment of this project, a project which is likely to create hundreds of jobs in my community and bring an enormous amount of investment into Australia.