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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 4038

Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (13:19): I rise to speak in favour of these bills. These bills implement the work of the former federal government. These bills are the culmination of a substantial body of work that commenced following the Montara oil and gas well explosion, which was one of the most significant offshore petroleum incidents in Australia's history. It highlighted, once again, the inherent dangers that exist in the offshore hydrocarbon industry. These dangers were demonstrated, again, in August 2012 when two workers were fatally injured on a mobile offshore drilling facility in the Otway Basin off the Victorian coast.

These bills will ensure the safest operating environment possible for this industry. That is a good thing. The offshore hydrocarbon industry is important for Australia. It is important for our economy, but this should not bring with it an unacceptable risk to the people involved in it or to the environment. This legislation is designed to learn the lessons from these tragic events and ensure that they do not happen again.

We believe that the regulatory settings we are putting in place through these bills are appropriate. They encourage the best possible offshore practices in the offshore hydrocarbon industry while being flexible to allow the government to act quickly if required. We expect this legislation will operate to make sure that our offshore hydrocarbon is not only as productive as it can be but also as safe as it can be.

I commend these bills to the Senate.