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Wednesday, 12 February 2020
Page: 894

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Senator RUSTON (South AustraliaMinister for Families and Social Services and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (17:43): I» «move» :

That these bills «be» «now» «read» «a» «second» «time .

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

Leave granted.

The speeches read as follows—

OFFSHORE PETROLEUM AND GREENHOUSE GAS STORAGE AMENDMENT (CROSS-BOUNDARY GREENHOUSE GAS TITLES AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2019

The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cross-Boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Measures) Bill 2019 amends the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (the OPGGS Act) to enable title administration and regulation of a greenhouse gas storage formation that straddles the boundary between State and Northern Territory coastal waters and Commonwealth waters, as well as to enhance the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Environmental Management Authority's (NOPSEMA) ability to respond fully during an oil spill emergency.

The recently announced National Hydrogen Strategy highlights the economic opportunity the hydrogen export industry has for Australia.

Australia's abundant natural resources mean it could be one of the first countries to create a hydrogen export industry, helping to generate a significant number of Australian jobs and lay the foundations for a new hydrogen industry. This Bill aims to help realise this opportunity for Australia. The Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project relies on suitable Carbon Capture and Storage that the CarbonNet project will provide. This is the cheapest way to produce clean hydrogen.

The CarbonNet project is investigating the feasibility for a commercial-scale, multi-user Carbon Capture and Storage network in Gippsland, Victoria. The proposed storage site under CarbonNet's project is one such site that straddles the boundary between Commonwealth waters and State and Northern Territory coastal waters. The Australian Government has invested heavily in both the CarbonNet and Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain, providing total funding of almost $150 million. The two projects are highly interdependent.

To kick-start our new hydrogen industry, the Bill will improve the current regulatory framework by amending the OPGGS Act to provide for single greenhouse gas titles that are partially located in Commonwealth waters and partially located in State and Northern Territory coastal waters. These amendments will further realise the benefits of Australia's resources sector and unlock the development of future resource projects that identify potential storage formations which straddle the jurisdictional boundary.

Once these amendments have passed, together with supporting State or Northern Territory legislation, a cross-boundary regulatory regime will be ready to be triggered. This regulatory regime starts with the creation of a Cross-boundary Authority, consisting of the responsible Commonwealth Minister and the relevant State or Northern Territory Resources Minister. This is similar to current Joint Authority arrangements for petroleum titles in Commonwealth waters. The Cross-boundary Authority will make decisions by consensus about the granting of cross-boundary greenhouse gas titles.

Upon the grant of the cross-boundary title, the title area becomes Commonwealth waters for all purposes of the OPGGS Act. The title area will be regulated under the OPGGS Act in the same way as other greenhouse gas titles located in Commonwealth waters. NOPSEMA will have regulatory responsibility for environmental management, safety and well integrity. Titles administration will be undertaken by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator.

The existing protections for pre-commencement petroleum titles and existing petroleum production licences, both in Commonwealth and State and Northern Territory waters, will be maintained. The amendments will also enable the unification of adjacent Commonwealth greenhouse gas titles where a titleholder has reasonable grounds to suspect that there is a geological formation that straddles the two title areas.

Through its other key measure, the Bill will also strengthen and clarify the monitoring, inspection and enforcement powers of NOPSEMA within State and Northern Territory jurisdictions during an oil pollution emergency originating in Commonwealth waters.

The OPGGS Act currently does not provide adequate monitoring, inspection and enforcement powers, within State and Northern Territory jurisdictions, for NOPSEMA to ensure compliance by a titleholder with its environmental management obligations. The extension of NOPSEMA's powers in the Bill is confined to the event of an oil pollution emergency originating from operations in Commonwealth waters.

The Bill will amend the OPGGS Act to enable NOPSEMA inspectors to enter premises used for the implementation of oil spill response obligations without a warrant, in the event of an oil pollution emergency arising from operations in Commonwealth waters. Premises also includes an aircraft or vessel.

NOPSEMA will be able to enter premises whether they are located in Commonwealth, State or Northern Territory jurisdictions. The delay caused by obtaining a warrant or consent can significantly impede compliance monitoring in such emergency situations. During an offshore incident, NOPSEMA inspectors need real-time regulatory intelligence in dynamic situations, including monitoring and enforcing compliance across premises.

The warrant-free oil pollution environmental inspection powers will only be exercisable if the CEO of NOPSEMA is satisfied that there is an emergency that has resulted in, or may result, in oil pollution and declares an oil pollution emergency. NOPSEMA must publish a copy of the declaration on its website as soon as practicable after the declaration is made, and must give a copy to the relevant titleholder.

When the CEO of NOPSEMA is satisfied that the emergency no longer exists, the CEO must revoke the declaration and publish a copy of the instrument of revocation on NOPSEMA's website as soon as possible after making. A copy of the revocation will also be provided to the relevant titleholder.

The amendments will enable NOPSEMA to monitor whether a titleholder is in compliance with its oil spill response obligations, and take enforcement action in the event of non-compliance. The Bill will also amend the OPGGS Act to extend the operation of polluter pays obligations and the application of significant incident directions that may be given by NOPSEMA to areas of State and Northern Territory jurisdiction.

Finally, the Bill makes minor technical amendments to improve the operation of the OPGGS Act.

Overall, the Bill underscores this Government's ongoing commitment to the maintenance and continuous improvement of a strong and effective regulatory framework for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage. Further, the Bill ensures the regulatory framework's alignment with international best practice and aims to attract investment in new technologies and industries for Australia.

I commend this Bill to the Chamber.

OFFSHORE PETROLEUM AND GREENHOUSE GAS STORAGE (REGULATORY LEVIES) AMENDMENT (MISCELLANEOUS MEASURES) BILL 2019

Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2019 amends the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Regulatory Levies) Act 2003 (the Levies Act) to clarify the application of levies in relation to cross-boundary greenhouse gas titles, as well as to the Crown in right of the States and the Northern Territory.

Amendments to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (the OPGGS Act) included in the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cross-boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Measures) Bill 2019 (the Cross-boundary Titles Bill) provide for the grant of cross-boundary greenhouse gas titles over an area that includes both Commonwealth waters and State or Norther Territory coastal waters.

Amendments to the OPGGS Act included in the Cross-boundary Titles Bill also provide that greenhouse gas-related provisions of the OPGGS Act and the regulations apply, and are taken to always have applied, to the States and the Northern Territory. These amendments are intended to remove any doubt about the validity of greenhouse gas assessment permits that have been granted to the Crown in right of Victoria.

The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator, both operate on a cost-recovery basis. This Bill removes any doubt that levies imposed by the Levies Act are effectively imposed on cross-

boundary greenhouse gas titles, including the part of a title that is in State or Northern Territory coastal waters, and that the Levies Act applies to the Crown in right of each of the States and the Northern Territory. In effect, this means that levies are imposed in relation to regulatory activities undertaken in respect of greenhouse gas titles held by a State or the Northern Territory.

The amendments included in this Bill will not change the substance or practical effect of the Levies Act. The purpose of retrospective application is to validate past payments of annual titles administration levy by the Crown in right of Victoria under the Levies Act. No person will be disadvantaged as a result of retrospectivity.

I commend this Bill to the Chamber.

Debate adjourned.