Politics overrides safety

Why has the Australian government refused to release the investigation report into the Montara oil spill?

SafetyAtWorkBlog’s interest in this report is principally over the identification of potential risk control measures that could reduce the chances of another deep-sea oil rig exploding or identify any design or safety features that could stop such a savage leak of oil into the community.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on 12 August 2010 about the devastation to East Timor’s fishing and seaweed industries as a result of the spill in 2009 .  An earlier media report about Indonesia seeking compensation for its seaweed beds is available HERE.

The Australian Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, said on 11 August 2010:

“The lessons to be learned from Montara, and I might say the Gulf [of Mexico], create a clear need in a very sensitive, important national industry, both environmentally, economically and from a health and safety point of view, for a strong single national regulator that’s well resourced and focussed,” ……

This may be the way to go but AAP reports that Ferguson he is refusing to release the investigation report until after the August 2010 general election!!

Australia is two weeks away from a federal election.  It is expected that the Australian Greens will win more of the vote than ever before and are likely to have their first seat in Parliament with a win in the electorate of Melbourne.  The incumbent Australian Labor Party have entered a preference agreement with the Greens.

Minister Ferguson’s electorate, Batman, is just north of the electorate of Melbourne and contains a growing number of Greens supporters so, it is suggested, the motivation not to release the report may be more personal to the minister.  Ferguson, though, has nothing to fear in the short-term as the swing needed to unseat him is well over 20%.

The granting of oil leases in the Timor Sea was fraught with political shenanigans that have seemed to remove the majority of potential income from the fledgling nation of East Timor.

The reluctance of the minister to release the report implies that the findings will be a political embarrassment for the government but it is vital that the report be released so that we can determine what factors led to the explosion of the Montara oil rig and whether there are clues to why a similar situation occurred at the Deep Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.  The Greens latest statement on the Montara oil spill is available HERE

It is a sad reality that politics – the representation of the citizens’ desires – can restrict information that could be relevant for saving the lives of workers, the health of the ocean environment and the livelihood of workers in neighbouring countries.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

5 thoughts on “Politics overrides safety”

  1. What a fine example of OHS/environmental responisibility this government sets for private business. How can they expect the private sector to act responsibly in their OHS/Environmental LEGISLATIVE requirements when they do not. They refuse to release the report, discuss any OHS/Environmental breaches or possible solutions and then say we are pushing forward with the harminisation OHS act. You cannot be taken seriously if you don\’t walk the walk as well as talk the talk. As for the rights of the East Timorese people to the economic benefits of the oil reserves, the foriegn minister of the Hawke Government, Gareth Evans, signed away those rights to the Indonesian Government.

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