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
Again, it alarms me, but I agree with Senator Heffernan on that front. That is why we have sought to strengthen this bill with the series of amendments that have sadly received no support from any of the other parties, although I exclude the DLP and the Independents from that assessment.
Minister, you said that the committee would enable decisions to be based on expert evidence. The whole point of my questions in estimates was to establish how long it would take for those bioregional assessments to be prepared. The answer I was given was roughly five years. The committee is empowered to provide advice on specific referrals but that advice will be hindered by a lack of the knowledge that will be given by those bioregional assessments—that is, we need those bioregional assessments in order to understand the cumulative and longer-term impacts on groundwater. So again, how can you contend that decisions will be based on expert evidence if those bioregional assessments, which take five years, will not be done before more approvals are given?