Skip navigation

AGAINST – Bills — Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill 2024; Consideration in Detail

Milton Dick

The question before the House is that the amendments moved by the member for Warringah be agreed to.

Adam Bandt

I rise to support the amendment from the member for Warringah, because buried in this bill about workers' health and safety is a provision that has nothing to do with workers' health and safety and everything to do with making the lives of people in Australia less safe, by increasing the climate crisis by allowing the minister to fast-track gas projects. There is currently in place an offshore gas plan that requires corporations to go through certain steps before they are able to proceed with their climate-destroying gas projects. That was put in place by a coalition government. Former prime minister Tony Abbott, if I recall correctly, put this plan in place. The way the legislation works is that if you comply with the minimum steps set down by Tony Abbott then that's taken as complying with our environment laws.

Now, that's not the way it should be. Our environment laws should be strengthened so that First Nations owners get more consultation, so that the environment gets a say, so that we take climate change into account, for goodness sake. But what we're dealing with—and this is what's dealt with by the amendment from the member for Warringah—is an attempt by the government to say that even those restrictions that were put in place by Tony Abbott are too much and we should be able to get around them. Why is that happening? It's happening because some First Nations owners took corporations like Santos and Woodside to court and said, 'You've got to consult with us.' And the court agreed, saying, 'Yes, you have to consult with them.' Then Santos wrote to the minister and said: 'Those court decisions are too much of an impediment for us. Can you change the rules?' And the minister said, 'Yes, I will.' That's how this legislation has come before us—after a request from Santos: 'Can you change the rules, because these First Nations owners are winning too many cases in court.' The minister said yes, despite the full Federal Court saying that the consultation provisions are workable. Now, as a result, we have this extraordinary provision before us that's buried in a bill that's about workers' safety.

Under the provision as it stands—part 2, schedule 2, which the member for Warringah is rightly trying to remove—gas corporations get a blank cheque. Gas corporations get a free pass from having to comply with regulations that are in force. I want to ask the minister about 790E(1) in particular, where it says:

(1) If:

(a) a person engages in conduct in accordance with this Act or prescribed regulations made under this Act, as in force from time to time, in relation to a relevant action; and

(b) for the purposes of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage approval [that is, the Minister's approval under section 146B], the relevant action would not (apart from this section) be taken in accordance with the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage endorsed program—

that is, the Abbott one. So, if you take action and it would not have been in accordance with the coalition-approved program:

then, despite the conduct, section 146D of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 applies in relation to the approval and the taking of the relevant action as if the relevant action had been taken in accordance with the endorsed program.

My question to the minister is this: doesn't that provision, on its face and in its words, explicitly allow a gas corporation to take a step not in accordance with the plan and for it to be just presumed that it is in accordance with the plan—that black is white? Minister, isn't that what that provision means?

Madeleine King

I move:

That the question be put.

Milton Dick

The question is that the question be put.


Date and time: 5:19 PM on 2024-03-26
Allegra Spender's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 51
Total number of "no" votes: 13
Total number of abstentions: 86
Related bill: Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Legislation Amendment (Safety and Other Measures) Bill 2024

Adapted from information made available by

Continue Reading