Monday, 2 December 2019
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(ii) the Environmental Plan for the seismic testing is currently being developed and, once submitted, the community will have only 28 days to respond to the regulator, and
(iii) the community is concerned that the Environmental Plan may be lodged with the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) during the holiday period, limiting opportunities for genuine community consultation and feedback; and
(b) calls on NOPSEMA to:
(i) ensure that if any Environmental Plan is exhibited for community consultation during December 2019 or January 2020, that the community consultation period is extended to at least 60 days, and
(ii) conduct extensive public hearings in the affected communities of the Central Coast, Northern Beaches and Newcastle, and to advertise the hearings extensively in local media.
Labor will not be supporting this motion. We do support rigorous safety and environmental assessments that consider whether impacts and risks are acceptable on the basis of independent, scientific advice. We also believe that science and consultation, including from the community, should be at the heart of NOPSEMA's decision-making processes. However, Labor does not agree that the Senate should be directing the independent regulator in its assessment processes. This can undermine the independence of the regulator. We supported the Senate inquiry into seismic testing because we understand there are concerns from the community about seismic testing. We do not shy away from asking tough questions to ensure confidence and that the assessment processes are robust and independent of any undue influence.