Legislative Council amends Government bill – Prepares the state for major oil spill

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The Legislative Council has today supported Labor's call for the creation of an Oiled Wildlife Network to prepare for a major oil spill - and amended the O'Farrell Government's Bill to ensure the protection of stricken wildlife.

The Marine Pollution Bill (2011) will now proceed to the Legislative Assembly.

 "NSW will establish an Oiled Wildlife Network to improve our readiness for a major oil spill – after Labor's calls for action were supported by the minor parties in the Legislative Council today," Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said.

"The NSW Oiled Wildlife Network will be modelled on the world's best practice, California Oiled Wildlife Network and coordinate care of oiled wildlife in the event of an oil spill.

"The network will include the Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Primary Industries, Taronga Zoo, Maritime NSW, the Ports and non government organisations to deliver training and infrastructure.

"This is a significant step forward in preparing our State to deal with a catastrophic oil spill, but the ball is now in the O'Farrell Government's court.

"The recent oil spills off the coast of New Zealand and in the Gulf of Mexico have taught us we need to prepare now – before it is too late.

Oil-soaked wildlife after the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
Oil-soaked wildlife after the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

"We still require additional funding to be set aside in preparation for cleanup activities and clear plans prepared for each region and ecosystem that could be potentially affected by oil spills, for example, Montague Island, which is home to some 16,000 penguins.

"As Port Kembla, Newcastle and Sydney Port all see huge increases in shipping movements and undergo major expansions, it is vital we develop a world class plan to deal with oil slicks.

"With such huge increases in traffic, NSW will inevitably face a major shipping related oil spill. To protect our unique seabirds and ocean life, we need to be prepared.

"The NSW Labor Opposition has done more for the environment in one day than Robyn Parker has managed in 11 months," Mr Foley concluded.