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Why I’m Saying No to Offshore Drilling

By Dave Sharma, Member for Wentworth on December 9, 2020 in News

No Thanks. Photo: Bear Drills

Australia is an oceans superpower. We have the third largest exclusive economic zone in the world, some 10 million square kilometres – even larger than our landmass of 7.7 million square kilometres.
In Sydney’s east, we are fortunate to be custodians of some of the world’s most pristine coastline, with beaches and bays that people travel from around the world to visit.
This gives us a unique responsibility to protect the health of the world’s oceans. But our oceans are under pressure: from neglect, from overfishing, from pollution and from climate change.
One such threat is the petroleum exploration permit 11 licence, more commonly known as PEP-11. This licence allows oil and gas companies to drill for fossil fuels off a 4,500 kilometre stretch of our coastline, all the way from Newcastle to Manly. This area is one of the most densely populated and trafficked strips of ocean in the world. It’s also one of the most beautiful and most iconic.
It’s been 16 long years since PEP-11 was approved, and yet no useful data has been uncovered to warrant its approval, and no useful discovery has been made. As we learn more about the impacts of climate change, the risk, worry and lack of benefit PEP-11 poses only increases. An extension of PEP-11 is due to be considered in 2021, and last month I spoke against this proposal in Parliament. It is simply indefensible for this licence to be continuously renewed, creating uncertainty for our community.
I am proud of our efforts to protect our oceans and have faith that both the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments will make the right decision on this issue. It was a coalition government that helped the Great Barrier Reef win World Heritage status in 1981, and it was a coalition government that expanded no-take zones to increase from five per cent to 33 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
We have introduced the Reef 2050 plan to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef in the face of a changing climate. We have created the $100 million Environment Restoration Fund to clean our oceans and waterways and protect threatened migratory species. We are spearheading efforts to get more plastics out of the ocean, including in cooperation with our neighbouring countries in the Pacific. With the passing of the Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill, we are prohibiting the exportation of waste from Australia, undoubtedly reducing the amount of marine debris in our oceans. There is always more to do and we must work harder to reduce our emissions and tackle climate change.
While PEP 11 is a joint decision of the New South Wales and Commonwealth governments, I will continue to voice my opposition and that of my community of Wentworth in both jurisdictions. This is a clear issue where times and values have changed, and where what might’ve been acceptable ten years ago is no longer acceptable.
If you live here, take the ferry to work, volunteer at one of our surf clubs, take the kids to Nippers, have a swim or a surf in the morning or at the end of the day, or regularly do one of our amazing coastal walks like the Bondi to Bronte or Hermitage Foreshore walk, then you have a stake in stopping PEP-11.
I am running a petition to present to the Environment Minister on this issue and I urge you to sign by visiting