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Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2016

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2016

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

GREAT AUSTRALIAN BIGHT ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION BILL 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Hanson-Young)



GREAT AUSTRALIAN BIGHT ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION BILL 2016

 

OUTLINE

 

The Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2016 seeks to protect the Great Australian Bight from environmental damage resulting from mining activities.

 

The Great Australian Bight (the Bight) is situated off the coastline of South and Western Australia. The Bight is home to a large array of Marine life and endangered species, including great white sharks, humpback, blue and southern right whales. The waters provide an essential marine nursery for the endangered Australian sea lion colonies to raise pups and southern right whales to give birth to and wean their calves. It also supports Australia’s largest commercial fishery.

 

Multinational oil and gas company BP is intending to commence high-risk deep sea oil drilling in the Bight off the coast of South Australia. Other fossil fuel companies including Santos and Chevron have also expressed interest in drilling in the Bight pending the approval of BP’s application.

 

Deepwater drilling poses a serious and significant risk to the Bight, its marine life and fishing industries. In 2010 BP’s 'Deepwater Horizon' oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico lasted for 87 days and resulted in the leakage of around 4.9 million barrels of oil. One of the worst environmental disasters in American history, the spill destroyed marine and wetland ecosystems and devastated once vibrant fishing and tourism industries. Even without a spill, the loud and disruptive blasts from seismic exploration and drilling into the sea floor in conjunction with increased shipping will deter Australian sea lions and southern right whales from birthing in the area and will increase animal strike, pollution, biosecurity hazards and underwater noise.

 

This Bill prohibits mining activities in the Great Australian Bight marine area including the prospecting for the exploration of minerals or any other geological material.

 

The Bight is a nationally significant environmental treasure and it needs to be protected so that local industries are able to flourish and future generations are able to enjoy this magnificent part of Australia.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Clause 1: Short Title

1.           Clause 1 is a formal provision specifying the short title of the Bill.

Clause 2: Commencement

2.           This clause provides that the Bill will commence the day after it receives the Royal Assent.



 

Clause 3: Object

3.           This clause identifies that the object of this Bill is to protect the following from damage resulting from mining activities:

(a)     the Great Australian Bight environment (in particular marine life);

(b)    industries in the Great Australian Bight region (in particular the fishing industry).

Clause 4 - Application

4.                   This Bill applies in relation to the Great Australian Bight marine area and has effect despite any other Commonwealth law including any of the following Acts:

(a)     the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;

(b)    the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 .

5.                   To avoid doubt, an authorisation, permit, title or other instrument that permits conduct that is inconsistent with the operation of this Bill is taken to have no effect to the extent of the inconsistency.

6.                   A provision of this Bill that has effect in relation to a place that is within the outer limits of the exclusive economic zone of Australia (whether the place is in the zone or in Australia), or that is on or in the continental shelf of Australia, applies in relation to all persons (including persons who are not Australian citizens).

Clause 5 - Definitions

7.                   This clause provides definitions for new terms Great Australian Bight marine area and mining operation .

Clause 6 - Ban on mining activities in the Great Australian Bight marine area

8.                   This clause states that a person commits an offence if:

(a)     the person engages in conduct; and

(b)    the conduct is a mining operation; and

(c)     the conduct is engaged in the Great Australian Bight marine area; and

(d)    the conduct is not for the purpose of research of investigations relevant to the conservation or protection of the Great Australian Bight marine area.

9.                   This clause imposes a penalty of Imprisonment for 2 years or 1,000 penalty units, or both.

10.               This clause applies despite any other law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.

Clause 7 - Compensation for acquisition of property

11.               This clause provides that the operation of this Bill would result in an acquisition of property (within the meaning of paragraph 51(xxxi) of the Constitution) from a person otherwise than on just terms (within the meaning of that paragraph), the Commonwealth is liable to pay a reasonable amount of compensation to the person.

12.               This clause also states that if the Commonwealth and the person do not agree on the amount of the compensation, the person may institute proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia for the recovery from the Commonwealth of such reasonable amount of compensation as the court determines.

 

 



 

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2016

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

The Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2016 seeks to protect the Great Australian Bight from environmental damage resulting from mining activities.

 

The Great Australian Bight (the Bight) is situated off the coastline of South and Western Australia. The Bight is home to a large array of Marine life and endangered species, including great white sharks, humpback, blue and southern right whales. The waters provide an essential marine nursery for the endangered Australian sea lion colonies to raise pups and southern right whales to give birth to and wean their calves. It also supports Australia’s largest commercial fishery.

 

Multinational oil and gas company BP is intending to commence high-risk deep sea oil drilling in the Bight off the coast of South Australia. Deepwater drilling poses a serious and significant risk to the Bight, its marine life and fishing industries, including irreversible damage from an oil spill. The loud and disruptive blasts from seismic exploration and drilling into the sea floor in conjunction with increased shipping will deter Australian sea lions and southern right whales from birthing in the area. The Bill prohibits mining activities in the Great Australian Bight marine area including the prospecting for exploration of minerals or any other geological material.

 

 

Human rights implications

This Bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms.

 

Conclusion

This Bill is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

Senator Hanson-Young