Environment Minister Abandoning Powers to Protect the Marine Environment from Oil and Gas

Friday, 28 February, 2014

(Sydney – 28th February, 2014) The announcement today from the Environment and Industry Ministers to make offshore oil and gas regulator, NOPSEMA, the sole decision-maker for environmental approvals for offshore oil and gas activities is a further step in the Environment Minister’s mission to rid himself of a job, said IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare).


Already seeking to negotiate bilateral agreements with States and Territories to take over his role in environmental decision-making on land, the Minister is now abandoning his role in decision-making on environmental protection in Commonwealth waters.


“The Environment Minister seems intent on getting rid of his own job”, said Matthew Collis, Marine Campaigns Manager at IFAW.


“Decisions about extremely environmentally risky activities in Australian waters should be taken by the Environment Minister and he should be accountable to Parliament and the public for these decisions. He should not be palming off his responsibilities.”


“Far from saving environment groups time and money as the Minister’s announcement claims, the changes include the removal of a specific public comment process for oil and gas exploration activities. This will actually increase the burden for environment groups, as we will now have to identify every exploration operation individually and assert our rights for an opportunity to comment on their plans”, said Mr Collis.


“But more importantly, the removal of a direct public comment facility effectively means members of the public will no longer have the opportunity to comment on oil and gas exploration activities. At a time when there is increasing concern about the risks posed by deep-sea oil and gas activities, the government is curtailing the opportunities for public scrutiny. That is an extremely disappointing decision and one that risks lowering environmental standards,” said Mr Collis.


The Minister’s announcement comes on the day IFAW released polling showing only 16% of Australians are satisfied with the Abbott Government’s record on marine environment issues, and that 85% of Australians wanted whale and dolphin habitats protected from oil and gas exploration.


“With Australians already unhappy with the Government’s record on the marine environment, IFAW cannot see how this announcement will help regain public trust,” said Mr Collis.





Notes to Editors –

  • For more information or interviews please contact Rebekka Thompson-Jones at IFAW on 02 9288 4973, mobile 0401 090 034 or email rthompson@ifaw.org
  • Survey results are available upon request.


About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.




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Rebekka Thompson-Jones
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02 9288 4973
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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation