Don't blame the Bight

22 Jul 2020

Posted January 15, 2019

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie says that the Federal Government has ignored Australia’s low fuel stocks for years and is now trying to use it as an excuse to drill in the Great Australian Bight.

“Australia is a member of the International Energy Agency and has not been in compliance with 90 days of fuel for a single day since 2012. The Coalition has had three different Ministers since then but only now have they decided to care about this crucial national security issue.

“In January 2017 I wrote to the then Minister of Defence and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure to urgently express my concern about the Government’s negligence on Australia’s fuel security, and the only response I got was that they planned to be in compliance by 2026.”

“And now, despite years of inaction, the Minister for Resources Matthew Canavan thinks he can hoodwink us into risky drilling in the Bight. Never mind that the oil wouldn’t be available for another decade or that it will be shipped direct to Singapore for foreign markets. There are no jobs or oil for SA out of this plan.

“South Australians won’t be easily fooled into risky drilling for oil in deep, rough seas. The oil spill modelling shows that a bad spill could spread as far as Tasmania, Bondi Beach, and Esperance in Western Australia, causing untold environmental and economic damage. It’s not what South Australians want, it’s not what my community of Mayo wants. I and the Centre Alliance Party will continue to oppose all risky drilling for oil in the Bight to protect our communities and the environment.”

Senator Rex Patrick, who holds both the Environment and Industry portfolios for Centre Alliance, says the project offers questionable returns to the Australian taxpayer but poses significant risk to vital Australian industries and our environment.

“We are always looking for projects that deliver growth and jobs but those projects must properly consider both the benefits and the risks. In this instance there are few benefits but the consequences if something goes wrong are enormous," said Rex.

Polling during the Mayo by-election showed that 73.9% of people supported World Heritage Protection for the Great Australian Bight, with majority support for protection across the political spectrum [Centre Alliance (86.5% support), Liberal Party (55.4% support), Labor Party (78.5% support) and Greens (93.3% support), Undecided (62.1% support) and ‘Other’ (53.6% support) voters].

More recently, polling carried out in the electorate of Boothby has even stronger support (83.6%) for World Heritage Protection in the Bight. A majority of all party’s supporters in Boothby also want to see the Bight given World Heritage Protection (92.4% of Labor voters and 75.7% of Liberal voters).

“If the major parties continue to ignore community sentiment, they do so at their own peril. South Australians won’t forget when they vote in the upcoming Federal election.”

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