The Australian Greens today called on Federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson and the newly appointed Commissioner of Inquiry, Michael Borthwick to ensure that the Montara inquiry announced today was a public one – with open hearings and the timely public release of its report.
"We are concerned that the inquiry as announced could happen entirely behind closed doors," said Australian Greens Marine Spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.
"The terms of reference should allow for a comprehensive inquiry, but we are concerned that its success will depend on the conduct of the inquiry – which is being led by an ex-Commonwealth bureaucrat with no judicial or investigative experience.
"It will be a challenging task to get to the bottom of this a complex and multi-faceted issue – it is likely to require effective investigative digging and forensic analysis.
“We need to be assured that this inquiry will also cover the effectiveness of the government response and of the coordination between governments and agencies.
The Australian Greens are also concerned that the terms of reference for the inquiry do not explicitly direct the Commissioner to investigate the vexed issue of oil impacts in Indonesian waters and to hear the claims of fishermen and sea-weed farmers who claim their livelihoods have been affected.
"The Act does give the Commissioner the powers to look into these issues, but they are not addressed in the terms of reference announced today.
“We are calling on Commissioner Borthwick to publicly commit to investigate alleged impacts in Indonesian waters," Senator Siewert concluded.
For more information or media inquiries, please call Eloise Dortch on 0415 507 763