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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 248

Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (11:02): I indicate that the government will also not be supporting Senator Hanson-Young's amendments. I also find her suggestions objectionable and contemptible. To say that individual senators before a committee are influenced by those sorts of things, you would think you would have some evidence, Senator Hanson-Young, apart from just these slurs and suggestions you put out there. Let's be clear what Senator Hanson-Young is suggesting.

Senator Hanson-Young: You wouldn't want anyone to know, would you?

Senator Moore: It's public.

The TEMPORARY CHAIR ( Senator Back ): Order!

Senator CANAVAN: She is suggesting not only that some donations affect individual senators, but she is going on to make the allegation that we will develop a resource, the Great Australian Bight, because of some donation to a political party, when she well knows that those decisions on developing the Great Australian Bight are made by an independent regulator, by independent public servants with expertise in these areas. So she is also slurring those public servants, who are reputable individuals who do their job, day in, day out, and do not deserve the slurs from individual senators that Senator Hanson-Young is subjecting them to. Surely it is enough, Senator Hanson-Young, as Senator Moore said eloquently, for all of us to debate these issues on the substance and the merits, which we can do with those officials. We can debate with those officials and disagree with them, but I think it is contemptible to impugn motives to public servants who are just doing their job and cannot be in here to defend themselves on those allegations in that way. So I utterly reject those suggestions from Senator Hanson-Young.

As Senator Moore said, we could side track here and go into a whole debate about how many donations the Greens get from different individuals and different organisations and do the same thing, but that would be a complete distraction, because the issues before us here are quite simple, quite technical and do not relate to the Great Australian Bight, which Senator Hanson-Young's amendment does. That brings me to your amendment, Senator Hanson-Young, and we reject that for similar reasons. We reject that because we have an independent regulator here that is established to look at these things. They should be allowed to do their job. I love how the Greens, when a certain umpire calls a decision in their favour, use the authority of that particular organisation to buttress their claims and say, 'Such-and-such has said this, so therefore you can't do that.' But when an independent umpire says something different to what the Greens expect or want, they will disagree with it. You cannot have it both ways. We have a very robust environmental regulatory framework in this country. It will seriously look at all of the matters that Senator Hanson-Young has put forward, and it was doing that. As Senator Hanson-Young knows, BP are not progressing with their environmental plan. But the regulator will, for future companies involved in the Great Australian Bight, look at these things seriously.

As I said in response to Senator Xenophon, the Australian government would very much like to develop the resources in the Great Australian Bight. They have potential to be game-changing for our nation to secure our nation's energy needs. It is what we need. We do not produce a lot of oil in this country—as you know, Senator Hanson-Young—and it is an issue for us to respond to. The Great Australian Bight has the prospect—just the prospect—that it could help solve those issues. So those developments are very exciting for our country and should be exciting for South Australian senators because they are a major resource for your state and could be a game changer for it—it certainly needs something to develop its economy. But that is in the future. We need to step through those environmental plans properly, which we will do. We have a very robust framework in this country with a very good record on both safety and environmental matters. We stand behind that framework, and we certainly defend the integrity of those public servants that operate it for us.