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 would like to speak in support of this amendment, which is a perhaps more constrained version of an amendment that I moved earlier today. I am really pleased and am hoping that it has cross-party support. For the reasons that Senator Xenophon outlined, there seems little point to set up a committee that looks at one aspect of coal seam gas without looking at other serious problems that it poses to our environment and to our land. I foreshadow that I will be moving an amendment after this one to further expand the scope of the committee not just to land use but also to climate and to public health, which are other facets of the coal seam gas issue which have serious scientific doubts and lots of community concern about them. Unfortunately, the reason this is constitutional is the irony that this is simply an advisory body that does not have any teeth, as we have canvassed all day. So it is a great shame that, whilst the remit of the committee's advice can be expanded, the federal minister still will not have the ability to act to protect our environment from the impacts identified by this advice. But I welcome the amendments and thank Senator Xenophon for his work in drafting them today.