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A National Safety Authority to patrol petroleum.

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Media Release The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

15 December 2002



A National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority, to cover both Commonwealth and State waters will be established next year to replace the current mish-mash of legislation and make safety regulations for rig workers clearer.

Federal Resources Minister, Ian Macfarlane, today announced the new National Authority, which will be set up with a Federal Government funding package of $6.1 million.

The decision follows an independent review by international experts which found “there are too many Acts, directions and regulations regulating offshore petroleum activities and their boundaries are unclear”.

“This single Authority will look after our coastal waters in a uniform manner, reducing the regulatory burden on industry and simplifying the lines of accountability,” said Mr Macfarlane.

“Petroleum companies operating in more than one jurisdiction currently face a complex range of legislative requirements and regulatory practices that made compliance difficult.”

The States have agreed to the establishment of the National Authority through the Ministerial Council on Mineral and Petroleum Resources. The Authority, with offices Darwin, Melbourne and Perth, will have its own CEO but remain answerable to the

State, Northern Territory and Federal resource Ministers.

“The offshore petroleum industry is key to Australia’s future economic performance. A strong local industry relies on a secure, consistent supply at a competitive price. This is a step towards ensuring there can not be any serious disruption to that supply and that rig workers are properly protected,” said Mr Macfarlane.

An accident on an offshore facility, although highly unlikely, would have major economic ramifications. In 1988 the UK Piper Alpha North sea oil platform was destroyed by fire resulting in the loss of 167 lives and about $6 billion.

“Reviews in 1991, 1996 and 2000 raised serious concerns about the effectiveness of Australia’s offshore oil and gas, health and safety regulation. In the context of protecting our workers, the establishment of this Authority is long overdue,” said Mr Macfarlane.

“Through a single authority we can directly implement changes to offshore safety arrangements and know that all employees will be protected, rather than subject to varying degrees of health and safety vigilance,” he said.

Media Contact: Kirsty Boazman 02 6277 7580 0412 171 444 email: Website:

CMR 02-318