In response to the Senate committee report on the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill, the Australian Conservation Foundation’s national climate policy adviser Annika Reynolds (they/them) said:

“Disappointingly, the committee’s majority report has failed to engage deeply with First Nations’ concerns about consultation and environmental governance problems in this bill.

“ACF is concerned about the Albanese government’s attempts to accelerate the passage of this bill through Parliament while serious questions about changes to the consultation requirements for offshore gas projects remain unanswered.

“The 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.

“This would be a free kick for multinational gas companies and would undermine the Albanese government’s own climate policies, including the reformed safeguard mechanism.

“Every new gas project that is approved puts more stress on the safeguard mechanism and risks its capacity to deliver genuine emissions reductions from big industrial emitters.

“First Nations’ concerns that this bill will curtail their consultation rights have not been addressed. This is a major flaw the Albanese government must get right.”

Resources Minister Madeleine King introduced the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill on 15 February 2024.

The bill makes necessary reforms to work, health and safety laws governing maritime and offshore petroleum vessels. However, a single provision within the bill would allow the Resources Minister to implement changes to the assessment process for offshore gas.

This would enable the Resources Minister, or her delegate, to water down environmental and consultation approvals standards without oversight from the Environment portfolio.

ACF welcomes the dissenting reports from the Greens and Senators Pocock and Thorpe.

ACF’s submission to this Senate inquiry raised serious concerns about the intent and operation of the bill.

ACF Media Enquiries

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