Changes the Albanese government has proposed to its own bill on offshore gas approvals don’t address fundamental concerns about the legislation, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

The government has added an ‘environmental safeguard’ to the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill and will require the Environment and Resources ministers to both approve changes to consultation processes.  

But ACF’s Annika Reynolds (they/them) said the changes did not deal with concerns raised by conservationists and First Nations leaders.

“The fact the government is making these changes shows the deep flaws in the bill as it was introduced,” they said.

“The changes allow for exemptions from Australia’s environment law for offshore gas project approvals to be switched off by the Environment Minister if she is not satisfied that changes to the regs are not inconsistent with ecologically sustainable development principles.

“The double negative doesn’t provide much confidence for people who value nature protection or First Nations’ rights to say no to projects they don’t want on their Country.

“It is extraordinary for the Albanese government to be preparing to limit First Nations rights, then justify it as ‘not inconsistent with’ ecologically sustainable development.

“This bad piece of legislation risks pre-empting the government’s nature positive reforms.

“This bill seeks to permanently change aspects of the offshore gas assessment regime just before some of the most contentious offshore gas projects in Australia’s history – including Santos’ Barossa gas project – are assessed.

“ACF maintains that Part 2 of Schedule 2 of the bill should be withdrawn,” they said.

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Journalists with enquiries may contact Josh Meadows on 0439 342 992. For all other enquiries please call 1800 223 669 or email [email protected]