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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 6127

Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (18:13): I thank the minister for his answer. I will now move on to items 3 and 4 under amendment (3), which deal with the issues around the prohibition of decisions and actions under the Offshore Petroleum Act from being accredited under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. As I said in the second reading debate, we are very concerned that we do not want to see the environment minister or the environment department being sidelined during the assess­ment of the environmental implications of offshore oil and gas operations.

While I acknowledge that the amendments to the regulatory regime proposed by the government do not themselves address the role of the environment minister or say that NOPSEMA will take that role over, we are deeply concerned to ensure that there is no potential for the resources minister, at any time, to accredit NOPSEMA for this process under the act. In other words, what we are trying to do is ensure that the role of the environment minister and environment dep­artment is always paramount in terms of environmental assessment and that the decision-making power is not delegated to NOPSEMA. The minister has said that the government are not going to support our amendments, so my question to the govern­ment is: can I have their guarantee that this government—I appreciate that you cannot bind future governments, which is our concern—will not seek to make NOPSEMA a delegated or accredited authority under the EPBC Act?