The Senate Inquiry into seismic testing has tabled its final report today.
For the first time ever, the Federal Parliament heard evidence that united fishing, environmental, scientific and community stakeholders in their concerns surrounding the ongoing risks of oil and gas exploration in our oceans.
Greens Spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, said he initiated the inquiry because of the diversity of concerns raised with him by those who felt the Government had sat by for too long while fossil fuel companies ran rampant in our oceans.
“Testimony to the Committee demonstrated a David and Goliath stand-off, with a handful of multinational oil and gas industry giants on one side, and multigeneration local fishing communities and ocean lovers on the other.
“Big oil and gas corporations – many who buy influence with hefty political donations – have been seismic testing for the last 50 years while there has been virtually no scrutiny on the impacts this has had to the marine environment.
“It took three attempts to get this inquiry established, with evidence revealing Government Ministers were keen to avoid the scrutiny of a Senate inquiry – and when you look at the findings it’s easy to see why.
“The Committee heard that the current regulatory framework does not provide sufficient environmental or economic protection from the impacts of seismic testing and gives too much latitude to a regulator who is perceived to be too close to the petroleum industry.
“Evidence revealed that the fossil fuel industry has largely been operating within a science and research vacuum - with big companies cherry picking data that suits their interests, to the detriment of our local industries, communities and marine life.
“The Report’s recommendations make it clear that more research is urgently needed. Frankly, I believe this research should be funded by the oil and gas industry and this was recommended by the Committee too.
“While the Report makes significant recommendations that will reform seismic testing, the Greens believe it didn’t - and couldn’t - go far enough.
“Coastal communities right around the nation are opposing offshore fossil fuel exploration in this time of climate emergency. The NZ Greens negotiated to have all new seismic testing and offshore exploration banned – there is no reason Australia shouldn’t do the same.
“In our Additional Comments to the Report, the Greens have included our strong view that all new seismic testing should be banned.
“There is absolutely no excuse for the Government to continue handing out permits for seismic testing until more is known.
“We will also introduce a Private Member’s Bill to Parliament to ban seismic testing, so the debate and public discussion does not end here.”