Inquiry finds WA's Varanus response 'adequate'

THE majority Labor members of a Senate inquiry into the Varanus Island gas explosion have concluded that the Carpenter government had responded adequately to the crisis though opposition members disagreed with the conclusion.
Inquiry finds WA's Varanus response 'adequate' Inquiry finds WA's Varanus response 'adequate' Inquiry finds WA's Varanus response 'adequate' Inquiry finds WA's Varanus response 'adequate' Inquiry finds WA's Varanus response 'adequate'

The report to the Senate on the June explosion, which slashed Western Australia's gas supply by about 30%, also recommends the WA state government convene a forum to develop a standardised response to a similar crisis; swiftly implement the promised review of gas security; and set up a permanent gas bulletin board.

Opposition members of the inquiry described the incident as a major disaster for the state that cost businesses at least $2.4 billion, according to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia, and accused former WA Energy Minister Fran Logan of "gross incompetence" bordering on negligence.

WA Liberal Senator Alan Egglestone and WA Liberal Senate colleague Judith Adams said Coalition senators were deeply concerned about the manner in which the WA government managed this major crisis and called on the new state government to establish a judiciary or other major independent inquiry to investigate.

"Coalition Senators believe that in the public interest there is an imperative requirement that the following matters be the subject of further investigation," WA Today quoted the report as saying.

"[This is] to determine whether the management of the crisis by the state government was negligent and that the question of compensation to injured parties should be considered."

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said an independent inquiry would be carried out.

"This state government will need to look at the conclusions and recommendations of the Senate Inquiry report closely to see if further investigations are necessary.

"The terms of reference of the independent inquiry will be announced once we have had time to fully digest the Senate Inquiry's report."

A report from the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority to the state government later found the cause of the explosion was the rupture of a corroded pipe.

Partial production was resumed in early August and by early October it was up to two-thirds of previous production.

A return to pre-incident production is not expected until later this month.