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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 4038

Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (13:20): The Greens support these non-controversial bills. We will, however, be keeping a close eye on how these regulations operate. This new system of regulation was put in place, as the explanatory memorandums outline, as discussed many times in this place and as just mentioned by Senator Conroy, following the debacle of the Montara oil spill off the coast of Western Australia. That spill continued for a number of weeks and we do not actually know how much oil entered the marine environment, and we do not know the total impact of that spill on the environment because there was no baseline monitoring. There are ongoing concerns about longer lasting effects on West Timor and on the seaweed growers and fishers from that area, with some fishers having abandoned some of the fishing grounds that they had previously used.

We know what the impact is if we do not regulate our oil and gas properly. We strongly supported the institution brought in by the previous government, NOPSEMA. We have concerns with the shifting balance of environmental regulation, which has gone too far towards NOPSEMA. However, we will continue to monitor that to see how that rolls out. There is a lot of work that needs to continue to be done to make sure that our oil and gas industry is operating to the highest standards. There have been significant improvements, and we hope that these regulations will continue to ensure that we have strong regulation around our oil and gas industry. However, we will keep an eye out to make sure that the system continues to operate as it is now, that the environment is effective, that the environment is not left out of considerations into the future and that the balance has not gone too far.