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Thursday, 25 August 2011
Page: 5559


Senator PRATT (Western Australia) (13:57): The Offshore Petroleum and Green­house Gas Storage Amendment (National Regulator) Bill 2011 and related bills are very important for our nation and especially for the state of Western Australia. They are important for our environment and very important to the safety of people working in the oil and gas industry. They are also very important for our energy security.

We know that the Montara incident in the Timor Sea and the incident in the Gulf of Mexico dramatically focused attention—and rightly so—on and highlighted our commu­nity's expectations about the accountabilities of our offshore petroleum industry. Investi­gations into those incidents have found that those disasters should have been preventable. Sadly, the reports on the incidents pointed to a culture of complacency in both industry and regulators. I also look very much to the impact of the Varanus Island gas explosion and, in particular, its dramatic impact on the economy of Western Australia and the state's energy security. Those impacts demonstrate the absolutely vital need for this legislation.

Governments, regulators and industry here in Australia and abroad are implementing lessons from these events. Importantly, this is a partnership of industry—directors, man­agers and workers—and regulators, govern­ment ministers and officials. We must focus on continuous improvement in this space. We know that the oil and gas industry is very significant to Western Australia, but it is only worth doing if we can do it safely. We need safety for the sake of our people and safety for the sake of our environment. For this industry to maintain its social licence to operate, it must operate to the very highest possible standards. We simply must protect human health and safety. We must protect our marine environment. We must ensure that Australia's offshore petroleum industry is both the best and the safest in the world. We need to do this to make sure that this industry is able to continue to contribute to Australia's ongoing energy security and economic prosperity.

The PRESIDENT: Order! It being 2 pm, we will proceed to questions without notice.