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 reject utterly the interpretation that Senator Waters has put forward there. I repeat what I said earlier, that members of the interim committee were appointed on the basis of their strong scientific expertise and credentials in understanding the potential impacts of coal seam gas and coalmining on water resources. The government has full confidence in the operations and advice of the interim committee despite the accusations that they are conflicted. It was the opinion of the Senate committee that members of the IESC should be experts and this may include members who have worked for or received funding from mining organisations. It is important to have people who are experts, not people who are learners in this whole area, which when brought together can bring a range of skills to an effective expert committee. A balance needs to be struck between ensuring you have industry expertise and managing potential conflict of interest to ensure the advice is robust, rigorous and independent. That was the experience of government with the interim committee, and that is exactly what I said earlier, Senator Xenophon.