The National Party opposition said the oil and gas industry will be devastated to learn that the Government has more law changes in store for it.
National Energy and Resources spokesman Jonathan Young said these are changes on which the Government has not been up front about.
“I understand the Government has hatched a secret Marine Mammals Protection Seismic Surveying Bill,” Young said.
“This wasn’t in either of the two published coalition agreements. Exactly when they planned to reveal this to the industry and the wider public is anyone’s guess.
“I also understand it’s the Government’s intention to introduce the Bill this year, yet today (yesterday) is the first notion anyone has had that legislative change was coming to an area that already has very high environmental standards.
“Alarmingly we’re also hearing that beyond the Marine Mammals Protection Seismic Surveying Bill, the Government plans to very soon introduce legislation amending the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environment Effects) Amendment Bill.
“Again, the Government has said nothing about this, and if it’s true then there’s every reason to think it will have a big impact on the viability of the oil and gas industry.
“The Government’s primary defence of its completely irresponsible decision to axe new offshore oil and gas exploration has been that there’s enough potential resource in existing permits to transition away from them. But adding further legal and regulatory red tape to the areas covered by those permits will just do more to make them stranded assets.”
Young said the permitted areas may contain reserves of oil and gas, but at this rate the owners of those permits aren’t going to be able to convince other operators to come into the market to help share the very high cost and risk of exploration.
“What doesn’t make sense in all of this is that it’s happening at a time when natural gas is being seen as the most cost effective and environmentally responsible fuel to transition away from oil and coal.
“This is economic vandalism cloaked in naïve environmental sanctimony,” he added.