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Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Page: 7741

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (BatmanMinister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (11:46): This is the fifth and final bill of a complex legislative instrument. Australian taxpayers should not have to bear the cost of regulating the offshore oil and gas activities. This bill will enable the recovery of the cost of regulation from industry, while minimising the regulatory burden on the industry.

This bill amends the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Act 2003 to allow two types of cost recovery levies: an annual titles administ­ration levy for an eligible title in force, for each year of the term of the title, to recover the new National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) costs; and an environment plan levy to recover the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) costs.

In line with the Australian government's policy, NOPSEMA and NOPTA are to be funded on a full cost recovery basis with levies raised from the offshore petroleum industry. These fees will be reviewed regularly to ensure the fees reflect the cost of regulating the petroleum industry. The initial fees to recover the establishment and expansion costs for NOPTA and NOPSEMA have already undergone a cost recovery impact statement process. A further cost recovery impact statement will be undert­aken in the second half of 2011 covering NOPTA's and NOPSEMA's operating costs after 1 January 2012. These new levies will, on balance, be less than the fees levied under the current designated authority system and will reflect the true cost of offshore regulation. These reforms reduce the unnecessary compliance burden on industry of compliance and ensure the development of our offshore resources for the benefit of all Australians.

I also say, in seeking to bring this debate to conclusion, I appreciate the contribution to this debate by a range of members in the House and, importantly, the constructive engagement I have had with the opposition over an extended period in seeking to get to this point. The petroleum industry is very important to Australia's economic future. Gas is also regarded as a clean fuel in a transition to a lower emission economy; hence, the constructive development of this industry is essential to Australia's economic and environmental future. We therefore must work collectively together to maintain our social licence to operate in this industry. The experiences of the last 18 months to two years, both in the US with Macondo in the Gulf and in Australia with Montara, have sent a serious message to each and every one of us that we have to work to improve our performance when it comes to best practice in terms of the regulatory regime applicable in this industry. It is the intent of all members of the House to achieve that objective, and I am very lucky to have the support of the House with respect to that very objective.

As is always the case with respect to the reports that I have had to consider and the preparation of the legislative instruments, I, and previously the member for Groom, as minister, rely on a very good Public Service team to do all the necessary hard work. I say to the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, particularly the team responsible which is with us in the House today, thank you for a job well done. It is a huge effort, and the Australian community will be the beneficiary of your detailed commitment to consultation in the preparation of the bills which will soon come to conclusion in consideration of the House. I also say that I will continue to work with the Western Australian government to try and reach a conclusion on what I think is an objective being pursued both by Minister Moore, in Western Australia, and me, in the Common­wealth, with the support of the member for Groom, the shadow minister, to ensure not only that, at the end of this debate, there is agreement but that we are all satisfied we have best practice when it comes to the regulation of the petroleum industry in Australia. I commend the bill to the House.