MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (18:04): I move:
That the second-reading speech be incorporated into Hansard.
Motion agreed to.
Ms TIERNEY: I move:
That the bill be now read a second time.
Incorporated speech as follows:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend:
1. The Petroleum Act 1998 (Petroleum Act) to enable the orderly restart of the onshore conventional gas industry on 1 July 2021, on terms that will enhance community confidence in that industry.
2. The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2010 (OPGGS Act) to prioritise any new gas from future offshore production licences for domestic users.
The moratorium on onshore conventional gas in the Petroleum Act 1998 sunsets on 30 June 2020. Legislation about the future of onshore conventional gas must be passed before 30 June 2020 to prevent reputational and legal risks from allowing the moratorium to sunset without legislative provisions.
This Bill will end the gas moratorium from 1 July 2021, enabling onshore conventional gas exploration and production from that date.
To realise the orderly restart of the industry, the Victorian Government will:
• Improve community engagement and industry transparency obligations by amending the Petroleum Act
• Work with industry and community on the preparatory work to support licence applications consistent with our new regulatory approach
• Undertake social, environmental and economic impact assessments prior to releasing future onshore acreage.
The Victorian Government has listened to stakeholder views about the importance of community engagement throughout the process. This Bill will address these concerns by adding improved community engagement obligations to the Petroleum Act 1998, supported by transitional arrangements for existing authorities. Once made, the petroleum regulatory framework in Victoria will align with leading practice.
An orderly restart of Victoria’s onshore conventional gas industry would support jobs and enhance economic development, particularly in regional communities. The Victorian Gas Program estimates that up to 242 jobs, $312 million in gross regional product and $43 million in royalties could be generated each year during production.
An orderly restart will also contribute to ensuring Victoria’s energy security by increasing diversity of gas supply in the medium term as we transition to renewable energy. We are committed to reducing Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and growing Victoria’s renewable energy industry. Gas has a continued role as a transition fuel and will continue to be part of Victoria’s energy mix over the medium term. It is both economically and environmentally sensible to tap into Victoria’s natural gas resources as a bridging fuel in our move to renewable energy.
The introduction of this Bill is supported by the scientific evidence presented by the Victorian Gas Program (the Program). The $40 million science-led Program has assessed the potential for onshore conventional and offshore gas in the Otway and Gippsland geological basins.
The Program’s geoscientific studies have concluded that there are likely to be onshore conventional gas resources of commercial interest in south-west Victoria and Gippsland, with potential to support regional jobs and enhance economic development over a number of years.
Environmental studies indicate that securing local gas supply for Victorians will not come at the cost of the state’s ground water supplies, agricultural industries, farming’s clean green reputation, or the environment.
A policy review of Victoria’s petroleum legislation and regulations further shows that the state has a robust framework for managing environmental and safety risks. This ensures an onshore conventional gas industry can operate safely.
It is important to note that the Bill does not relate to hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of unconventional gas or exploration and mining of coal seam gas. The Victorian Government is entrenching the fracking ban in Victoria’s Constitution Act 1975 to make it even harder for any future government to remove the ban—providing extra peace of mind for regional communities and farmers.
The Bill will also include amendments to Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2010 to prioritise domestic gas consumption. Specifically, a legal obligation will be placed on gas producers that any new gas from future offshore production licences must be offered to domestic consumers, via a right of first offer (equal access) on reasonable terms.
I commend the Bill to the house.