Tuesday, 2 April 2019
Seismic Testing; Order for the Production of Documents
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(ii) seismic air gun blasting for offshore drilling creates underwater noise at extraordinarily high volumes, and it poses major risks to marine life of all sizes, including whales and dolphins,
(iii tourism and local fishing industries rely on healthy oceans and have the potential to be severely impacted by seismic testing and offshore fossil fuel rigs, and
(iv) the community is deeply opposed to this proposal and hundreds of people have rallied against it along the coast of New South Wales; and
(b) orders that there be laid on the table by the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, by no later than 9.50 pm on 15 April 2019:
(i) all correspondence, advice and briefing notes prepared by or for the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia or the Minister for the Environment, regarding the Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 (also known as 'PEP 11') 'Baleen 20 HR Seismic Survey' approval, and
(ii) all correspondence, advice and briefing notes prepared by or for the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia or the Minister for the Environment, regarding the PEP 11 extension of term granted by the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) in January 2018, including but not limited to, correspondence with the New South Wales Government between November 2015 and June 2017.
Exploration for oil and gas in offshore New South Wales has been undertaken safely for 30 years. There are strict safety and environmental standards, and the industry is overseen by the independent expert regulator, NOPSEMA. Last week, the government further strengthened consultation and transparency requirements to ensure communities are fully consulted on offshore seismic plans. The large body of international and Australian scientific research shows that, when properly managed, seismic surveys can be conducted safely. Rather than unscientific bans, NOPSEMA relies on expert scientific evidence and will not allow any activity to proceed unless it's safe for the environment, the community and the workers.
Communities across the New South Wales coastline are rightly up in arms at the prospect of their beloved oceans, the marine life within and coastlines being damaged by seismic testing. They have come together to protect our precious environment and push for a sustainable future. Our oceans and all who thrive on their shores depend on this. Much of the testing is centred on Newcastle and the Central Coast. I have seen firsthand the passion of Novocastrians and these communities to protect their irreplaceable coast. To say that there has been a lack of transparency is an understatement. We need to see the documents that form the approval of PEP 11 and find out how this risky activity has been allowed to proceed.