The Great Australian Bight as it should be (@Jaimen Hudson/Greenpeace)
The Great Australian Bight as it should be (@Jaimen Hudson/Greenpeace)

Oil over in the Bight – someone tell Turnbull

On 11 October, the Great Australian Bight avoided invasion from one monster oil company.

But though BP might have backed off, other fossil-fuel fiends – like Chevron – are lurking in the shadows.

They’re all prepared to take on the extreme conditions in the Bight because they think there’s [potentially tax-refundable] profits down there – though any oil rig on the Bight could be the next Deepwater Horizon

It’s surprising, therefore, that none of them take issue with BP’s reasoning.

BP claimed to be withdrawing from the Bight due to the project’s diminishing ‘competitiveness’. But surely, with oil prices tanking worldwide, shouldn’t the other oil majors be beating the retreat for the same reasons?

What really frightened BP was the voice of the Australian people. As the green movement has proven time and again, people power is here to stay.

Meanwhile, the pervasive culture of risky extraction, pollution and profiteering is dying. From BP and Statoil in the Bight to Shell in the Arctic, big oil is on the back foot.

As well as rejecting the short-term destructiveness of oil extraction, the world has finally adopted a historic long-term commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
Germany could phase out combustion engines by 2030
.

This may actually be happening.

Wake up, Malcolm Turnbull!

So why hasn’t the Australian government got the memo?

Like BP, the politicians need to start listening to the people, let alone the international community, and change the simplistic ‘jobs and growth’ narrative that is making Australia a global pariah.

Like Queensland’s pernicious rhetoric about how the Carmichael coal terminal is ‘critical infrastructure’.

Meanwhile the state’s actual most important asset, the Great Barrier Reef, is bleaching. Due to climate change caused by burning coal.

As the rest of the world prepares to implement the Paris Agreement, Australia sits on the sidelines. Yet neighbouring Pacific islands are beginning to disappear under the waves, and in October 2016 unseasonably high winds whipped the Bight putting out South Australia’s electricity grid.

It all comes full circle – making a mockery of the lingering mindset about commodity prices and the short-term benefits of extraction over the long-term benefits of sustainability. Such as survival.

It’s therefore time to stop all extreme drilling in the Bight and dismiss the spectre of South Australia as the next Gulf of Mexico disaster.

It’s time to ratify Paris like everyone else, and start closing Australia’s outdated mining infrastructure. That can start with putting Adani’s reckless and bizarre Carmichael plans out of their misery.

And it’s time to invest heaps more in renewable energy.

Simply speaking, renewables are a sustainable public good. Oil and coal lead only to private and largely untaxed profits.

What’s more, Australia is perfectly positioned to generate energy in abundance, creating long-term employment and shared wealth. There’s also the commercial benefits of selling the technology overseas.

All of this while never falling victim to the unpredictability of the global market prices of fossil fuels.

The age of oil is over. The time of coal has passed. Let’s leave it in the ground and make the most of what Australia really has to offer.