The Australian Greens are the only party fighting to protect the Great Australian Bight by standing up to mining companies seeking to drill in the pristine marine environment. Greens Senators for South Australia Sarah Hanson-Young and Robert Simms on Thursday announce their plan to protect the Bight.
Under the plan the Greens will:
• Reinstate funding for the South-West Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network management plan
• Transfer the Department of Environment's current responsibilities for administering and enforcing the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to a new National Environmental Protection Agency
• Transfer the environmental responsibilities currently held by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) for offshore assessment and regulation to the National Environmental Protection Agency
• Re-establish a Senate inquiry into petroleum exploration in the Great Australian Bight, which the Greens previously established but was disbanded when the election was called
• Continue to campaign in opposition to exploratory drilling in the Great Australian Bight
"Companies like BP, who seek to drill for oil and gas in the Bight, must be held to account for their shocking environmental record and poor community consultation. This is a company whose environmental plans remain secret and continue to be rejected by NOPSEMA," Senator Simms said.
"We can go a step further than ceasing oil and gas exploration - we can also reinstate funding for the South-west Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network management plan, and establish a new National Environmental Protection Agency.
"This pristine environment must not only be protected for now, but for all future generations and the Greens will fight to protect this pristine wilderness."
The Great Australian Bight is home to an incredible array of wildlife: humpback, blue and southern right whales, great white sharks, southern bluefin tuna, Australian sea lions, white-bellied sea eagles and albatross. This beautiful piece of our state is incredibly fragile, and irreplaceable.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said, "BP has a terrible track record when it comes to drilling. It is primarily responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico -- the worst in history. Over 87 days, about 4.9 million barrels of oil flowed into the sea. In that time, much of our pristine coastline would be covered in oil and the damage to the marine environment would be catastrophic."
"Any major spill would also decimate our coastal tourism and fishing industries which contribute 9,000 sustainable jobs and almost $1.5 billion to the South Australian economy.
"The government must not put this all at risk by allowing companies to explore for 20th century oil. Instead, focus should be on providing opportunities for South Australia to convert to a 21st century economy built on innovation and clean energy."