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Wednesday, 16 October 2002
Page: 5251


Senator O'BRIEN (12:00 PM) —The opposition will not be supporting this amendment. Whilst we agree that the minor amendments to legislation that are contained in the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Amendment Bill 2002 do not go far enough, we are pleased to see that the government is committing to a more wholesale review of the legislation in, we would hope, a reasonably short period of time. The Democrat amendment is perhaps focused on political objectives rather than legislative objectives. It may have been appropriate, if that was the intent, to pursue a second reading amendment to the bill rather than an amendment to the legislation in the form of a change to the objects of the act to introduce these provisions. I struggle to understand how, in the context of the legislation, these provisions would have any meaningful effect.

I am interested to note that the minister, Senator Abetz, reminds us of the impact of the EPBC Act on the exploration and exploitation of resources in the area of this country's economic interests covered by this bill—the submerged lands area. As I recall it, the EPBC Act is a piece of legislation that was subject to extensive agreement between the Democrats and the government. As I recall it—and I have reminded Senator Bartlett of this in other debates—the chamber was allowed an average of approximately 10 seconds per amendment to deal with that bill when it came through this chamber. I wonder whether that is the sort of consideration the Democrats would expect of a thoroughgoing review of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Amendment Bill 2002 when it ultimately comes back to the chamber in the way that the government promises. The amendments in this bill are relatively minor, particularly relating to offshore petroleum exploration permits and leases, and, as I have said, we will be supporting the bill. We do not see the relevance of the amendment proposed by Senator Bartlett other than to make a political point by moving it. I guess he has done so, but we will not be supporting alteration to the legislation in that form.

Question negatived.

Bill agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.