AEP conference: ‘My disappointment not for industry’ Madeleine King says on in-limbo offshore approvals regime

Simone Grogan
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King.
Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King. Credit: Ross Swanborough/The West Australian

Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King has told oil and gas stakeholders she is more disappointed for communities rather than them after efforts to firm up an “inadequate and inappropriate” approvals regime failed to pass the Senate.

In her address to the Australian Energy Producers conference in Perth on Tuesday, Ms King acknowledged there might be some “disappointment” in the room that the Government hadn’t delivered on providing more clarity regarding offshore approvals.

And there were few hints as to when those new consultation rules might be locked in.

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“I am looking at ways to provide greater clarity and certainty to all stakeholders, I want to make sure genuine consultation is undertaken before any offshore activity commences and I believe this is robust and sensible reform,” she said.

“We’ll have more to say on our approach in bringing certainty to consultation requirements in due course.”

The issue hit fever-pitch earlier this year amid legal action brought against Santos in the Federal Court that the oil and gas major claimed stalled its Barossa project and would cost billions.

In her speech on Tuesday, AEP chair and Woodside boss Meg O’Neill welcomed the certainty on industry taxes, but warned the deal wedged through the Senate between the Government and the Greens had “come at the expense of addressing the ambiguity in the consultation process for offshore approvals”.

Commenting on the outcome, Ms King told delegates she was more disappointed for the communities subject to an inadequate consultation regime as opposed to industry.

“I want the offshore regulatory regime to remain fit for purpose for a decarbonising economy, this review includes a focus on clarifying the consultation requirements for offshore approvals,” she said.

“The legislation to implement outcomes of the review did not pass the Senate last week, as we prioritised worker safety provisions and ensuring the certainty of Petroleum Resources Rent Tax Reforms.

“I know there is some disappointment in this room about that but I want to be very clear, my disappointment is not for industry but the community that will remain subject to inadequate and inappropriate consultation requirements for longer.”

Her appearance came fresh off the release of the Government’s Future Gas Strategy, a big win for industry backing the role of gas in the energy transition to 2050.

The Minister also suggested it would lay the groundwork to “tighten up retention lease policies” amid concerns big producers are holding onto retention leases as institutions such as AEMO push the threat of national gas shortages.

Ms King hit back at criticism her strategy resembled the Morrison government’s ‘gas-led recovery’.

“It’s a highly-charged and complex subject and it’s important that were reacting to the evidence and the whole picture and not just the headlines,” she said.

“Can I be very clear on what this strategy is not; it bears no resemblance to the LNP gas-led recovery as I’ve seen some suggest.

“The coalition’s ill-thought-through gas-led recovery thought bubble recklessly dumped all the responsibility for the nation’s future energy security on gas, as coal fired generation declined.”

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