Great Australian Bight

Matters of Interest speech
Legislative Council May 26, 2016

Great Australian Bight

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:23 :53 ): I rise today to draw the attention of members of this council and this parliament to the wonderful work being done by the Great Australian Bight Alliance. Members may be aware that BP was responsible for the world's biggest oil spill accident—the Deepwater Horizon tragedy of 2010—with some 800 million litres of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days. That same company now wishes to drill in the Great Australian Bight.

I was proud and pleased to join with other South Australians this past Saturday at Hands Across the Sand down at Glenelg beach. It was not the only Hands Across the Sand across the world, and in South Australia alone there were similar events in Kangaroo Island, Ceduna and Port Lincoln, as well as interstate and, as I say, overseas.

That event was treated to a wonderful performance of whale sounds from Bunna Lawrie, a Mirning man and a song man, from Whale Rock on the Nullabor Cliffs. He is probably better known to members of this place as a former member of the band Coloured Stone. He had the privilege of introducing his young son to play didgeridoo for the first time in public that day, and they did so calling the southern right whales, which the Minister for the Environment has just spoken of, that we are so rightly proud to have swimming in these oceans in the Great Australian Bight.

Of course, it is not just southern right whales that are in this environment: it is dolphins, it is sea lions, it is 1,500 different types of algae and 612 fish species, and it is some of the roughest and most remote country in the world—70-metre sheer cliffs, hundreds of kilometres long. How would you ever clean up an oil spill in this environment, when BP are the very people responsible for the Gulf of Mexico and that devastating oil spill, which to this day still sees dolphin mothers giving birth to stillborn dolphins, which to this day still reels from the tragedy that was the Gulf of Mexico spill.

I commend the work of the Wilderness Society, and particularly Tammy-Jo Sutton and also Peter Owen. I commend them also for standing up and doing independent modelling that would show the devastating impact of an oil spill if it were to occur of the bight, an impact that would not only hurt our environment but also, of course, the industries of aquaculture and, importantly, tourism. It would affect not just Kangaroo Island; it would indeed come to the shores of Glenelg, as that mock spill did that we saw on Saturday. That would be a real spill on the shores of Glenelg if BP were to have a similar spill, as they did in the Gulf of Mexico. It would go down as far as Victoria, depending on the time of year and the particular weather conditions, according to that independent modelling.

BP has no right to drill in the Bight. I stand with Sea Shepherd, who will be sending one of their boats out this year in winter to draw the attention of the world to the importance of the Great Australian Bight and the wonderful sea creatures that are there. I also stand with the Wilderness Society and commend them for their work, and in particular the Sea Shepherd's Geoff Cann, who could not be there on Saturday morning. Having done all of the great organising work for the event, he actually fell ill and lost his voice, but his voice was heard loud and clear across the world and down at the Glenelg at Hands Across the Sand this past Saturday.

While I am on my feet, I shall also draw the attention of the chamber to the fact that the Victorian parliament yesterday made a formal apology to those who had been convicted of homosexual acts, where that had been criminalised in that state. I drew attention in this place yesterday to the fact that we have a legislative review designed to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexuality, gender identity and historic injustices, and I wrote to the Premier in February 2015, well over a year ago, asking him if he too would make such an apology.

He only needs to look at Premier Andrews' powerful words yesterday to see how important this apology will be, not just to those particularly men who are now in their 60s, 70s, 80s and sometimes 90s, who lived their whole lives with these convictions over their heads, who lived their whole lives as criminals just because of their sexuality. The power of words is in the Premier's hands to deliver a similar apology here in South Australia. I call on the Weatherill government to apologise for convictions that are now spent for acts of homosexuality. It should never have been a crime and we should apologise for that injustice.



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