Senate debates

Monday, 17 June 2013

Bills

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2013; In Committee

7:48 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray Darling Basin) Share this | Hansard source

I move opposition amendment (1) on sheet 7397:

(1) Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (line 15), omit "involves", substitute "is a".

This is a relatively simple definitional amendment which is fairly minor and specific in its nature. To put this amendment in some context for the chamber, the proposed section 24D(2)(a) reads:

(2) A person must not take an action if:

  (a) the action involves:

     (i) coal seam gas development; or

     (ii) large coal mining development; and

It then goes on to the other attributes of it being in Australia and having an impact on water et cetera. The coalition's concern with respect to the current wording of this amendment is that 'involves' is a relatively broad term in that obviously actions that may occur on a site which has a pre-existing coal seam gas development or pre-existing large coalmining development may involve as such those developments because they are within proximity on the site or otherwise but in reality those actions may not be related to those developments per se or at least those pre-existing coal seam gas or large coalmining developments may already have been subjected to all of these approvals processes. The coalition contends that it would be better if the bill and ultimately the act read that a person must not take action if the action is a coal seam gas development or large coalmining development and all of the other existing provisions within this section.

This is relatively minor but fairly technical. We would argue it does not change in any way the intent of the proposed amendments to the EPBC Act. In no way does it undermine the coverage of these provisions of coal seam gas developments or large coalmining developments. All it does is ensure that we minimise the potential, remove the potential with respect to this subsection, for there to be any unintended consequences as a result of this going through. We would hate to see a situation, having flagged concerns about the use of the word 'involves' rather than something more definite, that later down the track we saw projects and proposals captured as controlled actions under the EPBC Act that really did not deserve to be so captured given the intent of what we are debating and proposing here tonight.

I would hope that not just the crossbenchers but also the government would see that this is a simple, straightforward, technical amendment that removes and eliminates any potential doubt for there to be any unintended consequences from the legislation. It simply provides a more clear-cut definition and is something that I would hope all sides of the chamber would be willing to support.

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