Each year the government opens up more of Australia’s treasured ocean environment to dangerous oil and gas exploration. It’s time for that to stop.
Already, millions of square kilometres of our ocean is set aside for oil and gas drilling, putting local communities and wildlife at risk. This year, the government wants to add vast new areas to the map: in Bass Strait between Tasmania and the mainland; off the coast of Victoria near the Great Ocean Road; next to the internationally protected Ashmore Reef in the Timor Sea (where our worst ever oil spill occurred); and even in the pristine Great Australian Bight.
What can we do about it? The decision isn’t yet final, and the government wants to hear from people with a stake in this. That means we have a short window to have our say, and stop more of our precious environment being opened up to dangerous oil and gas extraction.
The proposed drilling threatens some of our most precious environments, like the Great Australian Bight – one of Australia’s last remaining unexploited areas, and one of the most pristine marine environments in the world.
The oil industry’s own modelling makes clear an oil spill could devastate coastline anywhere from WA to Tasmania, including beloved tourist destinations like South Australia’s Kangaroo Island and Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.
Big oil companies like Statoil are already lining up to drill this year and even smaller dodgy companies, with zero experience in offshore drilling, own permits.
Now the government wants to invite even more players to this wild environment – that means more seismic testing that will harm wildlife, and a greater risk that a two-bit company that doesn’t know what it is doing will cause a massive oil spill.
Only last year scientists discovered more than 250 species previously unknown to science on top of the whales, sea lions, fur seals, and sharks already present in the Bight.
Dangerous seismic blasting – a preliminary step to oil exploration – could start as early as March in the Bight, wreaking havoc on one of the world’s most important whale breeding grounds and the species that underpin Southern Australia’s fishing industry.
We can’t afford to gamble with Australia’s hidden ocean treasures with high-risk oil drilling at a time where we desperately need to be keeping climate-wrecking fossil fuels in the ground.
As the world moves inexorably to a cleaner, renewable powered future, the oil industry is dying. But in the pursuit of a last, desperate and destructive payday, the Australian Government is showing itself as out of touch and in the pockets of its fossil fuel chums.
It’s up to us to send a message to our politicians and Big Oil that the tide really is turning; that dangerous frontier oil exploration is simply not worth the risk and the public outcry.