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Thursday, 16 May 1991
Page: 3969


Mr ROCHER(5.37 p.m.) —I wish to refer to concerns expressed by the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association (APEA) in connection with Division 10AB of the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1991, which involves rehabilitation and restoration of mining, quarrying and petroleum sites. The issues of concern to the Association surround off-shore platforms, definition of site for Division 10AB deductions, priority for deductions under Division 10AB, eligibility of taxpayer for Division 10AB deductions and restrictions on section 51 deductibility.

The APEA is concerned that the legislation, as drafted, does not adequately cover the situation of off-shore platform decommissioning activities. It is of the opinion that it therefore does not truly reflect the announcements made in the Budget statements in August of last year. Given the special circumstances relating to off-shore operations and separate announcements made by the Government, the industry has expected that the decommissioning of off-shore platforms and similar installations would be treated separately in the mine site rehabilitation legislation. That did not come to pass.

There are a number of technically feasible options for the partial or total decommissioning of platforms and other off-shore petroleum facilities which may be legally and environmentally acceptable. It may not be necessary wholly to restore a site to its pre-mining condition, this being at the discretion of the relevant government authorities.

Some of the options for consideration include removal of equipment and any hazardous material, and leaving the platform in place for some period; partial removal, leaving at least 55 metres clear water above the remaining structure in accordance with international guidelines; in situ toppling, in which the platform is collapsed on site; and removal of the whole structure either to shore or, preferably, to a deep water dumping site. All of these options would leave some structures on or in the seabed, including pipelines, sealed and abandoned wells and the piles used to secure the platform to the seabed.

There is some concern that the definition in the principal Act-section 124bb (1)-shall apply. It states:

. . . restoration of a site . . . to, or a reasonable approximation of, the pre-mining condition of the site.

It seems that there is some justification for the wording of the Bill to be amended to provide explicitly for any form of removal or decommissioning of off-shore platforms and other fixed off-shore petroleum facilities. Such explicit separation of platform de-commissioning and general rehabilitation-related activities would be in line with the Budget policy announcement on this matter.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Les Scott) —Order! The time allocated for the remaining stages of this Bill has expired. The question is that the Bill be now read a third time.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.