A state senator has called for the federal government's audit into the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) to include an examination of the regulator's handling of community submissions.
On May 16 Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matthew Canavan and Minister for the Environment Melissa Price announced the government would commission an independent audit of NOPSEMA's consideration of exploration in the Great Australian Bight.
Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick said he had complained to NOPSEMA about its decision to permit seismic surveying in the Bight near Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island later this year.
"While the audit proposed by the government is a cop-out when the views of most South Australians are considered, it may be able to tackle the very lax attitude that NOPSEMA has demonstrated in response to a complaint that I have raised with them," he said.
In his complaint Mr Patrick questioned whether NOPSEMA had used the best available data for its sound prediction modelling, whether two operators of the passive acoustic sea life monitoring equipment was adequate and if it ignored the submission of seismic surveying company PGS of the proposed equipment.
Mr Patrick said NOPSEMA's initial response to these raised concerns and it must approach any approval with the highest possible standard.
"In proceeding with the proposed audit the chief scientist must closely examine how NOPSEMA is weighting and regarding community submissions and complaints in their decision making."
In the joint statement from the ministers on May 16, it was revealed a chief scientist will work with NOPSEMA to assure all environmental considerations had been taken into accord.
After being re-elected as Member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey said he was positive that an independent audit would find nothing wrong.
NOPSEMA announced on May 17 it would be unable to make a decision on Equinor's environmental plan within the initial 30-day assessment period.
The next decision point is now scheduled for June 27.