Locals are furious over a federal government decision to open an area within five kilometres of Victoria’s Twelve Apostles for offshore oil and gas exploration.
By Matt Neal
Bidding has opened on the latest offshore petroleum exploration acreage release of 21 sites off the coast of Victoria and Western Australia.
The one closest to shore follows the coast between Port Campbell and Yuulong in south-west Victoria.
The area is home to the Great Ocean Road and tourist attractions including the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and Wreck Beach.
In 2019 more than 100 Port Campbell residents gathered in the heart of the town, population 500, to protest against deep-sea drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
Resident and business owner Julie Brazier said she was baffled by the government’s announcement.
“I don’t know why they’re continuing to waste money on gas exploration instead of focusing on renewables,” she said.
‘Cooking our own goose’
“The federal government is looking at supporting a gas industry which will be a stranded asset — no damned good economically within 10 years,” she said.
“People in that area are worried — some of them have tried to take action on this.
“It’s really difficult when you’re up against a government that’s supporting huge corporations that are making money out of Australia — very little of it comes back to Australia, by the way.
“It’s a very bad idea.
“There are all sorts of international organisations who are advised by thousands of scientists who’ve done lots of work on this subject who say that if we have any more coal, gas or oil exploration and release, then we are cooking our own goose.”
Last month the International Energy Agency warned that exploring and tapping new fossil fuel reserves needed to stop this year if the world is to reach net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.
But federal Resources Minister Keith PItt defended the move, saying it was good for the economy.
“The annual acreage release is a crucial component of the government’s gas-fired recovery plan,” Mr PItt said.
“It is vitally important that Australians have access to reliable and affordable energy, both now and in the future.
“Exploration will continue to play a key role in supporting Australia’s economic growth by encouraging investment in development prospects, as well as unlocking additional supply.
“This year’s release provides opportunities in established oil and gas provinces with existing infrastructure as well as under-explored areas of offshore Victoria [that are] also within reach of existing infrastructure.”
Originally published at Abc news