Monday, 10 September 2012
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012; In Committee
I thank Senator Cameron for his comments. My reading, Minister Cameron, was such that there did not seem to be any point in setting up this federal scientific committee when the work that the federal scientific committee was going to do was effectively being covered by the Queensland commission. The Queensland commission has reputable scientists, people who are well versed in these issues and live in the area where coal seam gas is a particular issue. Minister, having done as you suggest—that is, reading your bill and looking at what the Queensland commission does—I am not sure why you are bothering with this legislation. Sometimes I do miss things, so I am seeking your assistance and that of your advisers to explain to me what this committee will do that the Queensland commission is not already doing.
Perhaps by implication I raise the question: is this just another Labor Party 'regulate, legislate, build-up-the-books' exercise? Australia is crippled under red tape, green tape, this body and that body, and more legislation and more regulation. Minister, I believe your government actually has a minister for deregulation—a minister for getting rid of regulation—and yet you keep adding. It may will be that there is something in this scientific committee that does things that the Queensland commission would not do. I cannot see it—I am not always that bright—so I am seeking your assistance, Minister. You and your advisers should be able to succinctly point out to me what is different. Well, not what is different; I know what is different.