Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Environment and Communications References Committee; Reference
That the following matter be referred to the Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 11 November 2019:
The impact of seismic testing on fisheries and the marine environment, with particular reference to:
(a) recent scientific findings;
(b) the regulation of seismic testing in both Commonwealth and state waters;
(c) the approach taken to seismic testing internationally; and
(d) any other related matters.
Seismic testing in Australian waters has been undertaken safely for decades. There are strict safety and environmental standards overseen by an independent expert regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority. NOPSEMA takes into account publicly available research findings in its decisions. A large body of international and Australian scientific research shows that, when properly managed, seismic surveys can be conducted safely. A three-year research program is currently underway by the Australian Institute of Marine Science to further understand the impacts on fish, invertebrates and plankton. To provide additional assurance, an independent audit of NOPSEMA processes for proposed exploration in the Great Australian Bight is being undertaken by the Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, and he will report by the end of August.
Labor will take a considered, consultative and pro-science approach to environmental matters. If the Greens really cared about this issue they would properly consult stakeholders, Labor and the environmental groups. They would test terms of reference to ensure that they adequately encapsulate the issues and have the potential to achieve an actual outcome for the environment and the sectors involved. Additionally, the Australian Institute of Marine Science is already conducting a three-year research program on this issue. Labor believes in taking a measured and consultative approach on these issues, engaging the sector on their concerns and allowing science to guide the decisions.
Leave is not granted.
Senator Whish-Wilson interjecting—
Pursuant to the rule adopted in the last parliament and this one, one can seek to suspend standing orders during formal business, but one does not get to debate it. So, it does not provide the opportunity for a speech. There is a contingent notice on the Notice Paper that suspension of standing orders can be moved to make a statement. That is what I have just been advised.
My first ruling was the correct one: that you suspend standing orders but you don't get to speak to that motion. If the motion is carried, you then get to speak. So, my first ruling was the correct one. Would you like me to put that to a vote, Senator Whish-Wilson?
My first ruling was the correct one. You can move a suspension of standing orders to make a statement, but you do not get to speak to the debate on the suspension of standing orders; it just gets put straight to a vote of the chamber. If it is carried, you will get to speak.