Wednesday, 17 June 2020
I, and also on behalf of Senator Whish-Wilson, move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that, as part of the acreage release process, the Government is asking industry to nominate areas they are interested in for oil and gas exploration around Ningaloo Reef, Shark Bay, and the Exmouth Gulf;
(b) acknowledges that:
(i) the Exmouth Gulf is a rare and precious estuarine system and crucial to the health of the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef,
(ii) Ningaloo Reef is one of the world's last healthy coral reefs and is home to humpback whales, whale sharks, dugongs, sawfish, turtles, and seagrass,
(iii) Shark Bay is World Heritage listed, satisfying all four criteria for natural heritage values, and is home to stromatolites which are among the oldest forms of life on earth,
(iv) any seismic exploration and drilling could have a devastating environmental impact on these areas, and
(v) areas south of the Pilbara are too environmentally sensitive to risk; and
(c) calls on the Federal Government to remove Ningaloo Reef, Shark Bay, and the Exmouth Gulf from the acreage release process.
The proposed national acreage release across the country provides an opportunity for Australia to ensure energy security, bring down prices and support Australian jobs. The exploration and production of oil and gas in waters adjacent to Exmouth and the Ningaloo Reef has been undertaken safely and responsibly for decades. Indeed, the pristine environment of the area is testament to the successful and rigorous regulation of the industry and its ability to coexist with areas of high environmental value.
Labor won't be supporting this motion. We support the oil and gas industry and acknowledge that these areas would be subject to extensive environmental approvals and community consultation.