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 rise to speak on Australian Greens amendments (3), (5), (7), (8) and (9) on sheet 7233. They relate to the scope of the committee to set its own agenda, if you like, rather than simply be asked by the federal minister to investigate certain matters. Clearly the importance of this amendment is to enable an independent committee to be independent and to ensure that the relevant experts on the committee—which sadly do not include public health, following from the vote we just had—can, of their own volition and their own expert judgement, investigate the various impacts of coal and coal seam gas on water resources.
In the government's bill, there are a handful of things that the committee is able to investigate of its own volition. Unfortunately, they are only three out of a reasonably long list, and those are: improving the consistency and comparability of research; publishing information about the development of standards for protecting water resources; and collecting, analysing, interpreting and disseminating scientific information about coal seam gas and water. So my first question, Minister, is: what resourcing will be provided to the committee so that it may have the capacity to perform the functions that, as written, it is currently allowed to perform of its own volition without a reference from either the state or the federal minister?