Great Australian Bight

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:51): I rise to speak briefly, given the hour, in support of this important motion put forward by my colleague the Hon. Mark Parnell. It is clear in our communities that there is no social licence for oil and gas drilling in the Bight, and these proposals pose a clear threat to tourism and fishing industry alike, coastal communities and marine life.

The Great Australian Bight is a unique natural wonder, with more than 36 species of whales and dolphins, and more marine diversity than the Great Barrier Reef. 85 per cent of species found here are not found anywhere else on earth. With applications for drilling and testing for oil and gas in the Bight not showing any signs of going away or stopping, it is vital that we come together and protect one of our most precious natural places in South Australia.

While BP and Chevron previously abandoned their plans to drill in the Bight, BP still owns two of the four offshore leases currently in that area, and passed the other two off to Statoil last year. BP's own modelling has shown us that a major spill would pollute up to 750 kilometres of our beaches and shoreline. Moreover, even standard drilling could affect the migration patterns of the engaged southern right whale, and the Great Australian Bight is one of the world's most important nurseries for these whales.

Arguments have been made in the past that sections of the Great Australian Parks are already protected as marine conversation parks, but proposals and plans to drill still exist, and an oil spill does not recognise such boundaries. with the world and global economy moving towards sourcing energy from renewables, on top of the risks that have been explored in this and other speeches on this bill, the risks clearly outweigh any potential reward.

Drilling for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight makes no sense, either from an environmental or an economic standpoint. Let us not just prevent it from happening now, but let's make sure it can never happen into the future. State and federal governments must work together and seek world heritage listing for our Bight. This is critical, because without this cooperation, we will not be able to achieve that world heritage listing. This listing would be good for tourism, good for jobs, good for the Bight and good for South Australia.

Labor and Liberal state governments in the past have supported a push for world heritage listing before watering down their commitments by 1996 to a marine conservation park status. The Greens are going back to the future by asking them to get on board with this campaign and support this motion, so that the Great Australian Bight has a future, and make a submission to the federal government so that we can get this process underway.

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