The West

Macfarlane flags sole offshore regulator
Macfarlane flags sole offshore regulator

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane says a government initiative to consolidate the environmental approvals process for offshore activities within a sole regulator should save industry $120 million a year.

Addressing the APPEA conference in Perth this morning, Mr Macfarlane said this streamlining move was one example of efforts the Government was making to work with States and Territories to remove duplication of red tape.

And he flagged a dominant role for National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority as the sole industry regulator.

"Ultimately, I want to see NOPSEMA as the single regulator for all petroleum activities in Commonwealth and coastal waters, to create a true one-stop shop," the Minister told the conference.

"Among other things, these changes will strengthen the capacity of industry to tailor environmental protection measures to their specific circumstances, while ensuring strong environmental outcomes for the Australian community.

"More broadly, the Government is absolutely committed to improving the health, safety, integrity and environmental regulation of offshore petroleum activities."

Mr Macfarlane also said the Government was determined that Australia be at the forefront of technology, in this case floating LNG, and not in the way the industry "missed the boat" when floating production, storage and offloading facilities transformed the sector two decades ago.

But Mr Macfarlane also conceded that a high Australian dollar, rising labour and material costs, logistical challenges and weather delays were significant imposts.

I accept that these factors can have significant adverse impacts on project costs and timeframes," he said.

"However, Australia's competitive advantages must not be understated.

"My position is that competitive market forces, not governments, should decide which projects go ahead, what supply contracts are secured and at what price.

"We are working with industry to reduce production costs, ensure access to skilled labour and increase productivity and efficiency-and this covers many areas.

Beyond that, Mr Macfarlane said the industry needed to build on the strengths that had made Australia competitive in the market.

"While no one is advocating lower wages for workers, our higher wages must come with greater productivity gains," he said.

"It is in the best interests of workers and unions to engage constructively with companies. There is no room in the increasingly competitive sector for outrageous demands."

The West Australian

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