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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 6045

Senator MARK BISHOP (Western Australia) (12:42): There are a number of amendments contained in this suite of bills: the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (National Regulator) Bill 2011 and related bills. However, in today's contribution I want to confine my comments to the government's principal objectives in having the bills passed through the Senate today. The first objective is to establish a single, well-resourced national regulator for onshore safety, well integrity and environmental approvals. The second is to provide for a national titles administrator for offshore petroleum mining and greenh­ouse gas storage activities.

The models put forward reflect the recommendations of the 2009 Productivity Commission review. They also reflect the recommendations of the Montara commission of inquiry. There have been 18 months of consultation with industry, states and the Northern Territory. It has been a long road. These reforms are about safety, environmental protection and day-to-day operational consents in the oil and gas sector.

We need to ensure our operating standards are the best and the safest in the world. In order to facilitate that, the functions of the existing national safety regulator, the Nation­al Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority, will be increased and its name changed. The new regulator will be known as the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environ­mental Management Authority. Last year the parliament approved an expansion to its responsibility to include all aspects of well integrity regulation. This bill before the chamber today builds on that foundation. The aim is to have, as I have said, a single national offshore petroleum regulator, a regulator that will ensure the safety of Australia's offshore petroleum workers and the environment in which they work, a regulator that will cover the journey from exploration through to decommissioning. Secondly, the bill seeks to establish a single national body for the administration—

Debate interrupted.