OPGGS letter


22 March 2024


The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Madeleine King MP, Minister for Resources, Minister for Northern Australia

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 


Dear Prime Minister, Dear Ministers

LEAN is deeply concerned that proposed amendments (section 790E) to the OPGGS Act, as currently drafted, would create parallel and divergent environmental assessment and approval processes for offshore resource projects. They would create uncertainty and unfairness for business, further erode social licence, and diminish trust in government to protect Australia’s precious natural environment.

The proposed amendments would effectively remove all offshore project approvals from the environment laws, and from the oversight of the environment minister, by extending a blanket and unconditional approval to any amendments to the OPGGS Act or its regulations in future that might be inconsistent with the environment laws.

This would create a parallel and separate system of environmental approvals for offshore resource projects that is likely over time to diverge from the system governing onshore projects. Aside from questions of fairness for businesses operating onshore, such an outcome would have perverse consequences for governance and for the achievement of the Government’s objectives for the environment. It would be similar to the blanket exemption for Regional Forestry Agreements, which the Government has finally and creditably committed to reversing.

Regardless of how rigorous any future system devised by NOPSEMA for offshore environmental approvals might be, the removal of the connection with the environment laws would be trumpeted by the Greens Party that Labor has created an easy pathway for offshore gas project approvals and cannot be trusted to protect the environment. 

We acknowledge NOPSEMA’s established expertise in managing environmental approvals in the offshore resource sector. Our concern is to ensure that all federal environmental assessment and approvals processes are consistent with the national environment laws, particularly in their objects, principles and standards, and that the environment minister retains oversight of those processes.

We would welcome an opportunity to discuss our concerns.


Yours sincerely,

Felicity Wade & John Della Bosca

Co-convenors of LEAN National

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