Monday, 2 December 2019
Great Australian Bight: Oil Exploration
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Norwegian oil giant, Equinor, plans to drill for oil in the pristine ocean environment of the Great Australian Bight,
(ii) the majority of Australians oppose the plan, recognising that there is no safe way to drill for oil in the remote, rough seas of the Bight and it is not worth the environmental or economic risks, and three out of four South Australians stated in an Advertiser survey, released on 22 November 2019, they would not support it even if it would drive down their fuel prices,
(iii) on 23 November 2019, a National Day of Action was held to Fight for the Bight, which saw more than 10,000 people attend more than 50 events across the country from Exmouth, Western Australia, to Townsville, Queensland, and on some of Australia's most iconic beaches, including Bondi, Manly, Bells Beach, Byron Bay, Margaret River and Currumbin, and
(iv) according to the most recent polling from The Australia Institute, Australians want to see the Great Australian Bight protected, and more than four in five South Australians (84%) support World Heritage protection for the Bight; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) back the calls of the majority of Australians and tell Equinor that they are not welcome here, and
(ii) protect the Great Australian Bight by listing it as a World Heritage site.
Australia needs new petroleum developments to ensure energy security, bring down prices and support Australian jobs. Offshore exploration for oil and gas has been undertaken safely for decades. The Australian government has recognised that the GAB and its environs, along with all of our offshore areas, deserve protection through appropriate regulation by a world-class regulator in NOPSEMA. A successful development in the bight would employ 1,361 workers in South Australia during construction and support nearly 700 jobs when operating, vital for a state struggling to attract new jobs. A poll by the antidevelopment and anti-fossil-fuel Australia Institute is not a true indication of public views on oil and gas exploration.
Labor opposes this motion. Australia's oil and gas exploration sector is made possible by the investment and expertise of global companies. Labor supports a stable foreign investment framework in our resources sector. The plan by Equinor to explore for gas in the Great Australian Bight is being evaluated by NOPSEMA, and the Senate should respect the independent decision-making process of the regulator.