Senate debates

Wednesday, 14 November 2018


Environment and Communications References Committee; Reference

7:15 pm

Photo of Peter Whish-WilsonPeter Whish-Wilson (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I'll wrap up debate now, in the remaining minutes. I would just like to say we have a really good example tonight of why you need the Greens in this parliament, in the Senate, to hold both Labor and Liberal, the duopoly of Australian politics, to account.

It has been outlined by Senator Pratt and Senator Canavan that there are things going on in the seismic space in this country. There are roundtable meetings going on between the fishing industry and the oil and gas companies. NOPSEMA went through a whole new process in September. They've reopened consultation on seismic applications and the concerns of stakeholders. Guess what: I went to the media in July this year and said, 'I am going to move for a Senate inquiry into seismic testing in this country.' The Greens said they were going to move for a Senate inquiry and, lo and behold, we had a little bit of sunlight and a little bit of scrutiny and things started happening.

So, while we may lose this debate today—and, sadly, that looks like it's going to be the case—I and my colleagues here can say today that this is why you need the Greens in the Senate. This is why NOPSEMA has gone through a new process that they announced in September, because we stood up for stakeholders. We stood up for the rock lobster industry. We stood up for the tuna industry in South Australia. We stood up for regional communities, and things started happening. We have seen there's going to be a whole new round of consultations and roundtable meetings now between industry and other stakeholders. Senator Colbeck is going to get the oil and gas industries together with the fishing industry.

I would have liked to do this in the public eye through a Senate references inquiry. I said I and the Greens were going to do this in July. We have given plenty of time for Labor to come on board. Unfortunately, they have proven tonight what I, sadly, in my heart, probably knew anyway: that they're in bed with the oil and gas industry. Let me tell you what: this augurs very poorly for when they most likely get into government at the next election, when they have said they are going to bring in a new marine protected areas campaign and strategy. We know that oil and gas got to them last time, and they watered down their marine protected areas program in this country.

This is just more evidence that their donors and the lobbyists who have come from the Labor Party have got to them—the fact they won't even support a public inquiry into seismic testing, even with the fishing industry calling their offices and meeting with them. I know the fishing industry have been to Canberra and have gone to the offices of senators and ministers and asked for this inquiry, but they won't support it. Why did I get denied leave yesterday even to make a statement about this in the Senate when this inquiry went down? I'll leave that to the Australian people and those stakeholders who are listening to this debate to work out for themselves, but that's how it often works in here: those people who call the shots are actually the vested interests. There is nothing wrong with scrutiny of this industry.

Let me finish by saying that seismic testing poses an unacceptable risk to the health of our oceans. There has been almost no research done on this. Senator Patrick, who understands seismic testing, is prepared to admit that. Marine wildlife, including migrating whales, and productive fisheries resources are all at risk, and we had a chance today to actually scrutinise the effect of this massive trillion-dollar industry and the potential impacts seismic testing is having on our oceans at a time in history when our oceans desperately need us to look after them.

I urge senators, in the last few seconds of this debate, to reconsider and to vote for this inquiry. The Greens have done a very good job chairing the Environment and Communications References Committee. There is scope for this inquiry. The claim by Labor that there is no time and no resources for that committee to look at this is a load of rubbish.


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