Rebekha Sharkie has introduced a new Private Members Bill to better protect the Great Australian Bight.
The Member for Mayo says the leaked report from oil company Equinor that showed the devastation of an oil spill in the region was the catalyst for the bill, which, while it won’t ban drilling in the region entirely, it will impose stricter environmental impact thresholds to be considered by the regulator in assessing any requests for activity in the region from gas or oil companies.
“I believe that my Bill strikes the right balance between sovereign risk and social, economic and environmental protection,” Rebekha said.
“In recognition of that balance, Whilst my Bill does not outright ban oil drilling in the Bight, it does set a significantly higher environmental impact threshold when the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), assesses offshore oil and gas activities in this biodiversity hotspot and major fisheries resource.”
The report showed a spill in the area would spread along the southern coast devastating wildlife across both the Eyre and Fleurieu Peninsula, heading as far as Tasmania and tow thirds up the NSW coast.
“I realise Equinor’s draft environment plan is still a work in progress but their extreme scenario is even worse than the previous modelling by former permit holder BP which showed a Bight oil spill could release more than twice the amount of crude oil that entered the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, considered to be the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry," Rebekha said.
“It is not alarmist to say that my community of Mayo and the communities along the South Australian shorelines do not want to see this scale of disaster unleashed upon them,” Rebekha said.
“My community and the communities across south-eastern Australia would be devastated.
“Every swimmer at the beach, every fisherman and fisherwoman, every bed and breakfast, every fish and chip shop, everyone anywhere near the coast, would be affected.
“My own community has been polled by the Australia Institute as having 74 per cent support for World Heritage Protection of the Bight, and majority support from voters across all political parties.
“I would like to see such risky deepwater drilling in the Bight banned altogether but I understand the political concern regarding the abdication of Australia’s sovereignty to avoid so-called ‘sovereign risk’.
“Centre Alliance are not anti-development, but we believe that the Government must manage catastrophic risks at the appropriately high threshold.
“My Bill, if taken up by the Government, also opens up the pathway for the Bight to become World Heritage listed and join its rightful place as one of the natural wonders of Australia that includes the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and Uluru.”
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