Is A High Court Challenge Looming?

Is A High Court Challenge Looming?

Western Australia Minister for Mines & Petroleum Norman Moore

WA Reaffirms Opposition To Proposed National Offshore Regulator

Victor P Taffa

The Federal Government’s announcement today of three new offshore exploration permits awarded in Commonwealth Waters off Western Australia has further fuelled the State Government’s Opposition to the proposal to introduce a National Offshore Regulator.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said the growing interest for Exploration and Development of the Petroleum Industry off the coast of Western Australia highlighted the need for the Administration and Regulation of Petroleum Titles to remain with the State Government.

The State Government has formerly requested Federal Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson to reconsider his National Offshore Petroleum Regulator model to reform offshore Petroleum Regulation in Australia.

“WA’s Proposal for the introduction of a National Compliance Auditor would achieve improved regulation and maintain all key parts of the current Regulatory System.” Mr. Moore said.

“This option would not only benefit WA, the largest jurisdiction for Offshore Petroleum activity, but strengthen the oversight role of the Federal Government.”

“Such a model would ensure that any delays, gaps or duplication in regulation processes were quickly identified and resolved with appropriate resources, while also maintaining the advantage of the current extensive local knowledge, workable and timely processes, and the existing skills base, without disruption.” Mr. Moore said.

“This option recognises the need to boost safety standards in the offshore petroleum industry and the regulatory role of Government, and supports the significant reform of State and Commonwealth areas that is already taking place in Western Australia by the Department of Mines and Petroleum.”

The Minister criticised the recommendation by the Productivity Commission in its report on the regulation of upstream petroleum activities to create a national offshore regulator, saying it was heavily flawed.

“The proposed national regulator is unlikely to provide any benefit to Australia, Western Australia or the offshore petroleum sector, even in the long term, as it will not solve the complex, cross jurisdictional boundary issues or the complexity relating to environmental and native title issues.” Mr. Moore said.

Mr. Moore said the alternative model could be achieved without any disruption to or reduction of service level of regulation of offshore projects in WA.

He said the current practice of mirroring Commonwealth and State Petroleum Legislation would continue to provide similar legislative frameworks across jurisdictions, and the current co-operative approach could continue to deliver more timely outcomes.

“The Western Australian Government does not support the introduction of a national offshore petroleum regulator, and maintains that the administration and regulation of petroleum titles should remain with the State.” the Minister said.

“Western Australia’s industry still has decades of lucrative years ahead of it, and we need to play a major role in realising these benefits for the people of this State.”

“This is a further example of the Federal Government grabbing WA’s decision making powers and building costly, less efficient bureaucracies in Canberra.” Mr. Moore said.

The Federal Government is skating on thin ice with respect of these Planned Regulatory changes for Offshore Petroleum Mining.

Section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution sets out in many Clauses the Commonwealth Government’s Constitutional Limits.

Should the Commonwealth Government persist with what could be un-constitutional measures the Barnett Government would be well within its Rights to take the Commonwealth Government to the High Court.

The Commonwealth and The Northern Territory Government’s should also annunciate as to what their positions are for Statehood for The Northern Territory.

Statehood for The Northern Territory will provide The Northern Territory with Real Economic Growth as Mining Royalties would be kept primarily in Darwin and NOT Canberra.