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Wednesday, 15 May 2013
Page: 3370


Mr GRAY (BrandSpecial Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Integrity) (10:28): I rise to sum up this debate on the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Compliance Measures No. 2) Bill 2013. In so doing, I want to pay tribute to my predecessor, the member for Batman, for the work that he did in dealing with the immediacy of Montara and then the outstanding public administration work that has given rise to this piece of legislation. It is impossible to make that statement without giving due credit and acknowledgement to the opposition and, in particular, the shadow minister, the member for Groom, for his tremendous insight and support of good industry practice, leading to good environmental regulation and a safer and better offshore working environment for Australian workers and for this extremely important growing industry.

This bill amends the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 to strengthen the offshore petroleum regulatory regime, continuing the Australian government's work to implement the lessons learned following the uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons from the Montara wellhead platform in August 2009. Recent incidents such as the tragic accident on the Stena Clyde rig in the Otway basin located in the Bass Strait which resulted in the deaths of two employees, one a 32-year-old man from the Northern Territory and the second a 60-year-old, during drilling operations in August of last year further emphasise the need for a strong, effective regulatory framework to promote and encourage the safe best practice that we have in our industry and the continuous improvements in the operations of the offshore petroleum industry.

The amendments in this bill help to achieve this goal by introducing a range of alternative compliance and enforcement tools to strengthen the ability of the regulator and the courts to enforce critical safety and environmental management requirements, including adverse publicity orders, injunctions, infringement notices and continuing offences to help protect the Australian offshore workforce and the marine environment. The bill also inserts a new polluter pays provision in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 to both impose an express statutory duty on titleholders to respond to an escape of petroleum as well as provide a legislative guarantee that all costs of responding to an escape of petroleum, including clean up, remediation of the environment and environmental monitoring, will be met in full by the polluter should they fail to fulfil their statutory duty.

A number of additional policy and technical amendments in this bill will also strengthen the operation of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006, including enabling NOPSEMA inspectors to issue environmental prohibition notices and environmental improvement notices to require titleholders to remove significant threats to the environment and to require NOPSEMA to publish environmental and occupational health and safety prohibition and improvement notices issued by inspectors so that lessons from offshore inspections can be shared across the offshore petroleum industry in support of continuous operational improvements and improved occupational health and safety and environmental outcomes. I commend this bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.