The Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications has delivered its Report on the Great Australian Bight Environment Protection Bill 2016 (Cth). The Inquiry examined the environmental and economic issues associated with oil and gas drilling in the Great Australian Bight. The Bill was introduced concurrent to the proposal by BP Australia to undertake resource exploration in the Great Australian Bight. Although that project will not proceed, other proposals are expected.
One of the core proposal of the Bill is to introduce exclusionary zones for resource operations. The Committee received submissions in support of the Bill, citing the conservational value of the region warranted such expansive protection. In contrast, proponents against the Bill submitted oil and gas production were vital in meeting Australia’s energy insecurities. The Committee agreed with the latter perspective, suggesting production in the Bight was vital to the energy security of Australia as well as the country’s economic sustainability, stating that the moratorium would threaten the investment reputation of Australia. In response to the conservation value of the region, the Committee found the regulatory and environmental protection regime is sufficient to address these concerns. The Committee recommended the Bill not be passed.
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