Opposing Offshore Drilling for Oil and Gas

Today Abigail moved a motion recognising the strong community opposition to offshore drilling for oil and gas in NSW, calling on the NSW Government to oppose the renewal of Advent Energy's Petroleum Exploration Permit [PEP11] and to prevent the construction or installation of any infrastructure related to PEP-11 drilling or offshore exploration in New South Wales.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (17:26): I move:

(1)That this House notes:

(a)the strong community opposition to offshore drilling for oil and gas in New South Wales, including to the proposed extension of Advent Energy's Petroleum Exploration Permit [PEP11] project;

(b)the importance of New South Wales coastline and waterways to our ecosystem as well as tourism and investment;

(c)PEP-11 has been publicly opposed by:

(i)NSW Liberal-Nationals Government members, including John Barilaro, MP, and Adam Crouch, MP;

(ii)Federal Liberal-Nationals Government members, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, MP, Jason Falinski, MP, and Lucy Wicks, MP;

(iii)Federal Labor Party members, including party leader Anthony Albanese, MP; Pat Conroy, MP; and Emma McBride, MP;

(iv)NSW Labor Party members, including Liesl Tesch, MP; David Harris, MP; and David Mehan, MP; and

(v)all MPs and senators of the Australian and New South Wales Greens.

(2)That this House:

(a)opposes the renewal of PEP-11; and

(b)calls on the New South Wales Government to oppose the renewal of PEP-11 and to take all possible action to prevent the construction or installation of any infrastructure related to PEP-11 drilling or offshore exploration and activity in New South Wales.

You really could not make this up. In 2021 our community is having to fight against a proposal to build an oil and gas rig off the east coast of New South Wales. Despite the impacts on marine life, the huge consequences for our planet's climate and the ever cheaper, not to mention the far more sustainable cost of renewable energy, none of those obvious deterrents are apparently enough for the Federal Liberal resources Minister to reject the PEP‑11 proposal once and for all with the stroke of a pen.

There is strong community opposition to PEP‑11. From Sydney's beaches through to the Central Coast and all the way to Newcastle, local communities have come together to demand that the PEP‑11 proposal be rejected. Save Our Coast, a grassroots community campaign leading the fight against PEP‑11, already has collected over 86,000 signatures on its petition and has been holding regular paddle outs to protest the plan, with at times up to 500 in attendance. The project is so unpopular that the New South Wales Nationals leader, John Barilaro, and Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison have come out publicly against it. They are among a growing number of MPs from across the political spectrum who are echoing the demands of the grassroots campaign against PEP‑11.

Despite strong opposition from affected communities and from New South Wales and Federal MPs across the political spectrum and despite the dire impacts that such a project will have, PEP‑11 has yet to be outright rejected. Right now, sitting on the desk of the Federal Liberal resources Minister Keith Pitt, are the documents to approve or deny the project. Right now he could end the uncertainty and agree to protect our coast. One might think, "Don't worry, with such a mountain of factors stacking up against this project, there is no way he would approve it." But that is clearly not how Advent Energy sees it. Advent Energy, the current owners of the petroleum exploratory licence that is PEP‑11, recently called for tenders for drilling equipment as it moves ahead with the project. That Advent Energy is proceeding to lay the groundwork to begin construction of an offshore oil and gas rig is a valid reason for concern.

If PEP‑11 proceeds, it will have devastating consequences. Offshore drilling destroys marine environments that animals rely on for survival and disrupts food supplies for entire ecosystems, and that is before we arrive at the potential impacts that a well failure could have on the entire New South Wales coastline, the most populated coastline in Australia. Local coastal environments, including beaches, lakes, estuaries and river systems, would be exposed. This would harm tourism and fishing industries and the wellbeing and health of local residents and coastal ecosystems.

We cannot take the chance that the Federal Liberal-Nationals Government will make the wrong decision. We have a duty to the people of New South Wales to ensure that the PEP-11 project will never go ahead. We can do so by making it more difficult and costly for Advent Energy to drill off New South Wales by prohibiting the construction of all related infrastructure on our shores. This is within the power of the New South Wales Liberal‑Nationals Government. The time for words is over. It is time for the Government to act. I commend the motion to the House.


To see the full debate, see Hansard here.

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