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Wednesday, 2 March 2011
Page: 975

Senator SIEWERT (3:47 PM) —I seek leave to make a short statement.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Trood)—There being no objection, leave is granted for two minutes.

Senator SIEWERT —I am sure that Senator Ludwig made his statement in all good faith, reading from the notes he was provided with, but this motion does not say, ‘Shut down the industry’; it says, ‘Put a moratorium on until the Senate is satisfied that we can control a spill from any accident that happens with deep-water drilling.’ I raise this issue because, in the UK, the High Court has just made a decision that it will review a decision made by the UK minister to allow deep-water drilling, because it has come to light that neither the companies involved there, nor the country, have in place have any appropriate practices to control a spill from a deep-water oil well. In other words, we have not learnt yet from the mistakes in the Gulf of Mexico, where we had the biggest spill and the most significant impacts. We have not learnt here.

When I asked in estimates about what confidence we could have that we could control a spill in the Australian situation, the department had to admit that they cannot yet. The department have granted leases to BP off our Great Australian Bight. This is the same company that caused the accident in the Gulf of Mexico. The department have already granted BP these leases, and they had to admit that they do not at this stage have in place appropriate practices. They are having a conference to talk about it in August! ‘But it’s okay. We’re sure we can control a spill.’ Yes, they are having a conference in August, Senator Ludwig, to talk about how they would control and put in place better practices for a deep-water spill. That is not good enough, when this well is going into Australian waters, environmentally sensitive marine areas, and could affect endangered species. ‘But it’s okay. We’ll work it out after we have had our conference in August.’ That is not good enough. This Senate should expect better from our management agencies.

Question negatived.