Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Coal seam gas amendment bill passes Parliament

Media release
10 October 2012

Legislation establishing an Independent Expert Scientific Committee to provide advice on coal seam gas and large coal mining has today passed the Parliament.

The bill to amend the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 will establish the Independent Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Developments under Australian law.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said establishing this committee will ensure that governments can access the best scientific advice available when making decisions about coal seam gas and coal mining projects.

“There is widespread community concern about the impact of coal seam gas and coal mining on our water resources and I share these concerns,” he said.

“The work of this committee will provide the community, landholders and industry with greater certainty about the decision making process for coal seam gas and large coal mining developments.

“We have provided $150 million to establish the committee and fund scientific research on the potential water-related impacts of coal seam gas and large coal mining activities.

“A further $50 million has been provided to establish a new National Partnership Agreement with the states through COAG, under which the Commonwealth and states agree to take the Committee’s advice into account in their assessment and approvals decisions.

“Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria have all signed up to this agreement.

“I would like to thank all the members of the interim committee for their work in providing the Australian Government with sound expert scientific advice.”

Mr Burke said he had taken on board suggestions about the composition of the new committee.

“The new committee will include a much broader range of expertise to cover the full spectrum of issues associated with the coal seam gas agenda, including health impacts,” he said.

“I will be making an announcement about the membership of the new committee shortly.”

Another important role of the committee is to scope and advise on bioregional assessments in areas where coal seam gas and/or large coal mining developments are underway or planned.

Bioregional assessments are a scientific analysis of the ecology, hydrology and geology of an area. Their purpose is to assess the potential risks to water resources as a result of the direct and indirect impacts of coal seam gas development or large coal mining development.

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