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Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Page: 7269


Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) (9:58 PM) —Senator, I have actually answered most of those. Either I have not made myself clear or there is some other reason why those answers have not been sufficient for you, but I think I have actually answered all of those. If you wish for a briefing, we will arrange it, but I am not sure I can assist you any further in the chamber tonight. Again, I make the point. You asked if the minister will undertake an audit. I specifically responded to that and said that it was a condition of the approval under the EPBC Act that an independent audit be undertaken. It is not the minister who undertakes that. This is the case in relation to EPBC Act conditions regularly. Senator Siewert would know, because she has asked me a few questions about various aspects of approvals. Conditions are, on occasion, imposed under that act. It is not the minister who goes out and complies with them. In general, it is the proponent who goes out and is required to comply with them. It is then assessed whether they have, in fact, done so.

In relation to the breaching issue, on my advice, if conditions are imposed, a subsequent failure postapproval not to comply with the condition would be in breach of those conditions and relevant action could then be taken pursuant to the remedies under the act. Given that this is a regulatory provision, I am reluctant to have a discussion in this chamber that is about a specific project and what happens if it is breached. I think it is proper in this place and in a briefing to have, if it is required, a general discussion about what failure to meet conditions could mean regarding enforcement or other remedies under the act. I suggest to you that we are getting into the question: ‘If this person failed this condition, what would Minister Garrett then do?’ In the context of the sort of regulatory provisions we are talking about, I am not sure that that is particularly helpful.

Question put:

That the amendments (Senator Nash and Senator Siewert’s) be agreed to.