Wednesday, 14 November 2018
Environment and Communications References Committee; Reference
We have seven inquiries before the references committee, including the ABC governance reference. The Labor Party sought to send that reference to the finance and public administration committee. We can see that it has hearings scheduled for later this month. I have to say that this committee has little or no time this year for other hearings. If this were an urgent inquiry rather than a political stunt coming from the Greens, the Greens would have supported our reference of the ABC governance issue to go to a different committee. It is not appropriate use of the Senate's time, frankly, to create inquiries to attempt to score political points when the particular committee in question is bursting at the seams with inquiries already.
It is premature to initiate a Senate inquiry into community consultation on seismic testing, because there is significant consultation already underway, and it is through that process that people should have their voices heard. We in this place, on the Labor side, want to listen to all sides engaged in this issue: the industry doing the seismic testing, the fishing industry and broader community concerns. But we will not stand here to prejudge government- and industry-led consultation that seeks to resolve these serious issues that have both environmental and commercial significance.
We will stand up for our environment, and we have a proven track record of doing so—a proven track record of delivering reform and not stripping away protections or grandstanding to score political points while letting opportunities slip by. So today I would like to encourage the Greens to acknowledge that this motion has twice been unsuccessful in just three days. We need to let the oil and gas industry and the seafood industry, together with government regulations, get on with the job of resolving these issues first through their current rounds of consultation.