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Thursday, 4 September 2008
Page: 4515


Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) (10:08 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

OFFSHORE PETROLEUM AMENDMENT (DATUM) BILL 2008

Given the important, but technical nature of the amendment, I am pleased to introduce this bill into Parliament.

This bill makes a minor technical amendment to the datum provisions included in the current Offshore Petroleum Act 2006 (OPA). There have been no policy changes.

I would now like to explain the rationale to Senators for the amendment contained in this bill.

Senators may recall the amendments made to the datum specified in the OPA as part of the Offshore Petroleum (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2008 in response to the Government’s Australia Spatial Data Infrastructure Program. This involved the move from the Australian Geodetic Datum, known as AGD66, to the Geocentric Datum of Australia, known as GDA94. The amendments in the Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2008 commenced on 1 July 2008.

This bill will correct an error resulting from a technical oversight in the Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2008 which inadvertently replaced all references to the AGD66 with the GDA94. Although the advent of global positioning systems justifies the adoption of an international ‘geocentric’ (earth centred) datum, the OPA still needs to refer to the AGD66 for the purposes of determining the position of graticular sections or blocks and refer to GDA94 for certain other purposes including describing coordinates of a point in a title.

If graticular sections or blocks are determined by reference to GDA94 as currently required by the OPA, the grid used to determine the position of the titles will move approximately 200 metres in a north-easterly direction from a grid that refers to AGD66. This outcome was not the policy intention of the Offshore Petroleum (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2008, and would cause concern and uncertainty for industry if not corrected. This bill will correct the technical error

This bill sets out provisions to make a technical correction to ensure that AGD66 and GDA94 are used as originally intended. The amendments in the bill are proposed to be retrospective from 1 July 2008 to benefit industry by removing uncertainty about title boundaries for petroleum titles, ensuring alignment between existing and future titles, and facilitating the award of new exploration permits and release of new exploration acreage. There are no adverse effects on industry.

I commend the bill to the honourable Senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator Carr) adjourned.

Ordered that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for a later hour.