By Emma McBride MP
19 October 2020
I rise to speak today to stand with my community and express my strong opposition to oil and gas drilling off the coast between Sydney and Newcastle, which includes my part of the world, the Central Coast. I call on the government to stop PEP 11 in order to save our coast. The Central Coast of New South Wales, home to my electorate of Dobell, is a beautiful part of the world. It is a place I am so proud to call home, my family having lived there for generations. As well as our friendly people and our relaxed way of life, our region is known for its iconic stretch of coastline. It's popular with visitors, too. Last year nearly two million people holidayed on the Central Coast, adding $692 million to the local economy, and more are expected this summer. This year, regional coastal communities like ours have shouldered the burden of bushfires, floods and COVID-19. There are currently 20 jobseekers for every vacancy on the coast, and tourism, hospitality and retail will have an important role to play as we recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic.
Under this government, our valleys and our beaches—the stunning natural environment that attracts people to live in and visit the Central Coast—are under threat. First, the proposed Wallarah 2 longwall coalmine, which I have opposed since I was a councillor for Wyong Shire. It's a risk to our precious water catchment and to valleys like Dooralong and Yarramalong. This government weakened the EPBC Act's water trigger, and the former minister waved through the project, despite the opposition of our community.
Now this government is looking at offshore drilling. My office has received over 470 emails, letters and phonecalls from locals concerned about PEP 11 and the risk it poses to our marine environment, our coastline and our way of life and wellbeing. We love our coast.
Glenn from Bateau Bay said:I have been able to raise my children here on the Central Coast, passing on to them a love for our ocean, coastline and marine life. The excitement at dolphins swimming close to them, their looks of amazement at the sight of a whale fully breaching the water still gives me a feeling of happiness to this day.
Cathy from Berkeley Vale said:The beach is our happy place. We moved up from Sydney a few years ago to have a quieter and more relaxedlife on the coast. We love it here. For our family of 5, we love going to the beach as our way to reset.
She echoes the views of hundreds of other locals.
According to the Environmental Defenders Office, the PEP 11 project could see drilling commence in a world renowned whale migration route and dolphin habitat, risking devastating the marine ecosystem and exposinglocals from Newcastle to Manly to the prospect of petroleum spills or gas rigs just kilometres from the coastline.
Locals are acutely aware of this risk.
Katarina from Wyoming said:I've spent my childhood growing up on the Coasts beaches and I can't imagine that someday due to the proposed PEP-11 operation our Coastal landscape will be severely damaged.
Alicia from Long Jetty said:Our beaches are serene and blissful. I and many others don't want them to be interfered with.Locals, people like Glenn, Cathy, Katarina and Alicia, are deeply concerned about our environment and our way of life.
Worse, the government wants recognition for protecting Australia's marine environment, yet this is the samegovernment which ignored the findings of its own review. The Samuel review of the EPBC Act outlined the need for national environmental standards to set clear rules for decision-making. The government made no reference to these standards in the amendments to the act. When the amendments came before the House, the government guillotined debate, denying myself and others the chance to speak against changes that weaken environmental protection.
It must be remembered: the responsibility for offshore drilling sits with the government. The Minister forResources, Water and Northern Australia has the final say, as the federal representative on the joint authority.This decision isn't being made under delegation but by Minister Pitt and New South Wales Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade, John Barilaro.
I stand with my community in their strong opposition to offshore drilling off the coast of Newcastle betweenSydney and Newcastle, and off the Central Coast.
I'm going to finish with the words of Karen from Long Jetty:'We ask you to please consider communities, the coastal ecosystem, the climate and the economy in this time of uncertainty and upheaval and urgently stop PEP 11 to save the coast that so many Australians love and depend on for their wellbeing and their livelihoods.'
This motion today won't be voted on. What matters is the decision by NOPTA, the decision to be taken by Minister Pitt and Minister Barilaro. As I started, I will finish: I stand with my community in their strong opposition to offshore drilling off our coast. I stand with them in calling on the ministers to stop PEP 11, to save our coast.
This motion will not be voted on. What matters is the decision by the joint authority, to be made by Minister Pitt and Minister Barilaro. I call on this government to make a decision in the interests of our community, our marine life and our way of life and to stop PEP 11 to save our coastal communities.
Authorised by Emma McBride MP, ALP, 204/1 Bryant Drive, Tuggerah NSW 2259