Edward Miller, chairperson of the Human Rights Lawyers’ Association (HRLA), says these changes violate the public’s right to participate in public affairs by making it more difficult to get information about exploratory drilling.
“The justification given is that, for companies entering this area, costs are too high and not proportionate to the risk at play.
“We’re not convinced that’s a valid reason for cutting the public out.
“And we’re also not convinced that the costs are too high compared to the costs that would come about from an oil spill,” he says.
Mr Miller also called the Government’s increased usage of SOPs a “worrying trend” that subverted the democratic process by enabling the Government to bundle through laws before they were subjected to public scrutiny.
“SOPs are supposed to correct deficiencies and drafting errors in legislations. Using a SOP to change the entire focus of the bill is quite different,” Mr Miller says.