Joint Media Release: Terms of reference for NOPSEMA audit released

28 June 2019

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
Senator the Hon Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia

The Coalition Government has released terms of reference for the Chief Scientist’s independent audit of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority’s (NOPSEMA) consideration of exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

The terms of reference were released today by Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan and Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley.

Minister Canavan said the Bight was important to the fishing and tourism industries, and local communities deserved assurance of its protection.

It also honoured an undertaking given during the recent election campaign that such an audit would be conducted.

“Australia’s offshore oil and gas industry has maintained a strong operational record while powering our domestic industry and export sector for decades,” Minister Canavan said.

“Australians deserve to be confident that all offshore oil and gas activities meet stringent regulations. This audit will seek to provide assurance that all environmental risks and impacts of the proposed activity are taken into account.”

Minister Ley said that, under the terms of reference, the audit will seek to provide assurance of NOPSEMA’s assessment and decision-making process for the current proposed exploration activity in the context of its regulatory obligations.

“I have high confidence that the Chief Scientist and his team of experts will provide the Government and the public with assurance environmental concerns are properly considered,” Minister Ley said.

The Ministers said the Chief Scientist’s audit will run in tandem with NOPSEMA’s assessment process and he has been asked to report by the end of August 2019.

The Chief Scientist will undertake targeted consultation with a range of stakeholders to inform his audit.

The audit will:

  • examine how environmental impacts and environmental risks, including Australian Marine Park values and EPBC Act protected matters, and other relevant information such as that received through consultation and public comment processes, are taken into account; and
  •  examine the relevancy, sufficiency and completeness of scientific and technical information used to support assessment and decision-making in relation to the current exploration proposal.

The terms of reference for the audit are available at: