Senate debates

Monday, 10 September 2012

Bills

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012; In Committee

1:05 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move Australian Greens amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 7233 together:

(1)   Schedule 1, item 4, page 4 (line 29), omit "(other than the Chair)".

(2)   Schedule 1, item 4, page 5 (line 9), at the end of subsection 505C(6), add:

  ; (e)   public health.

These two amendments effectively add to the experts that this committee needs to be comprised of. Currently there are only four areas of scientific expertise that need to be included on the committee specifically, and that is geology, hydrology, hydrogeology and ecology. This amendment seeks to add public health to that list. The reason for that is the huge concern in the community about both coal seam gas and large coal mining and their impact on community health. There is a litany of examples in the coal-mining sphere, and the Hunter Valley is obviously the most pressing one, but there is also a huge concern within the medical community, as well as within communities themselves, about the health impacts of coal seam gas, particularly the chemicals that are used in hydraulic fracturing fluids—or fracking fluids, as they are known—and the naturally-occurring chemicals that can be mobilised through that fracking process. This amendment seeks to ensure that the committee can have experts amongst its members who are able to reflect on those impacts and address some of the concerns in the community and the medical community about public health.

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