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Wednesday, 16 October 2002
Page: 5251

Senator BARTLETT (Leader of the Australian Democrats) (11:59 AM) —As indicated in my speech in the second reading debate, I move Democrat amendment (1) on sheet 2629:

(1) After Clause 2, page 1, (after line 10), insert:

2A Objects

The objects of this Act are;

(a) to provide a legal framework within which persons undertake activities to explore for and produce petroleum resources;

(b) to ensure the efficient, orderly and appropriate methods and time for exploitation of Australia's petroleum resources;

(c) to provide a legal framework that ensures that the exploration, production, transport and use of petroleum occurs in an ecologically sustainable manner, including the protection of future generations and implementation of the precautionary principle for all decisions;

(d) to ensure best practice in relation to offshore practices;

(e) to protect biodiversity;

(f) to ensure that the exploration, production and transport of petroleum resources occurs using world's best practice environmental standards;

(g) to reduce Australia's reliance on petroleum and other greenhouse fuels;

(h) to reduce Australia's greenhouse emissions and to contribute to stabilising of the earth's climate;

In response to some of the minister's comments, I will outline the reasons for this amendment. I do not believe this would weaken environmental protection. It would increase it. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is good as far as it goes but, as I said in my second reading contribution, the release of lands for exploration for oil would be very unlikely to trigger environmental assessment, and therefore it would allow a lot of exploration to proceed—as is currently occurring, I might add. Extra pressure would be applied for that to be allowed to go ahead and for economic development or oil exploitation to occur after oil is found. Environmental assessments made then would be more likely to focus on mitigation rather than prevention. We think this is an important addition that needs to be made. There is no doubt in the Democrats' view that the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act needs a more comprehensive environmental component to it and we will continue to pursue that agenda.