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Tuesday, 12 May 2020
Page: 2138


Senator FARRELL (South Australia) (18:22): I rise to speak to the amendment to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cross-boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Measures) Bill 2019. This amendment was moved by Senator Rex Patrick from the Centre Alliance. It primarily concerns the duration of petroleum exploration permits and applies only to offshore exploration permits in the Great Australian Bight. The amendment would limit the extension of Commonwealth offshore petroleum exploration permits so that no exploration permit in the Great Australian Bight could be granted for more than 10 years. The 10-year limit would also apply to transitional provisions and to permits already in force.

There are problems with Senator Patrick's amendment. First, it has little to do with the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cross-boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Measures) Bill. The bill ensures that where there are offshore greenhouse gas storage areas that straddle Commonwealth, state and territory titles the Commonwealth's offshore petroleum regulators have authority. The bill is intended to ensure that the strongest safety and environmental protections are in place for offshore greenhouse gas storage operations and that a Commonwealth regulator, such as NOPSEMA, can enforce them. The bill is not concerned with limiting the duration of exploration permits. Second, Senator Patrick's amendment—

Senator Patrick interjecting

Senator FARRELL: With due respect, Madam Chair, I was quiet while Senator Patrick produced his drivel. Could you please request the same courtesy?

The CHAIR: We are in Committee of the Whole, and there is usually a little bit of leeway given, but I remind senators that it is the requirement that you refrain from heckling during someone else's contribution.

Senator FARRELL: Thank you for that protection, Chair. Second, Senator Patrick's amendment limits the duration of offshore exploration permits, but only in the Great Australian Bight. No reasons are given for that. This is the effect of treating one operator differently to others based not on their actions or misdeeds but on where they are exploring. This goes to the third point, which is that there are already established ways to create protected marine areas. To properly protect marine areas we don't have to introduce anomalies to bills that are concerned with quite separate matters. The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Cross-boundary Greenhouse Gas Titles and Other Measures) Bill 2019 strengthens environmental and safety regulation of greenhouse gas storage, which is an important technology to help Australia reduce its future carbon emissions. The bill is not concerned with the duration of exploration permits on one part of Australia's coast. For the reasons listed above, we oppose Senator Patrick's amendment.