It’s not often you see “greenies” team up with members of the fishing industry, but one Corangamite Shire Councillor hopes to achieve exactly that when staging a protest against oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
Cr Simon Illingworth said an oil spill in the Bight would mean “environmental and economic armageddon for our coast”.
And he’s organised a rally in Port Campbell involving a “mass jump” off the local pier at 3pm on Sunday in response.
“We understand there's a number of licences for exploration in that area...and we just want it to be a blanket no-go zone,” Cr Illingworth said.
Cr Illingworth said he hoped the protest sent a “strong message” to oil exploration companies, as well as the state and federal governments.
“Many people coming are not anti-mining or indeed oil but we do all agree on one thing – the risk of this proposal is too high, the cost too much,” he said.
Port Campbell abalone diver Anthony Quarrell said the Bight sustains many small fishing communities that have “managed this natural resource for centuries”.
“The risk of oil drilling no matter how small is still too great,” he said.
Princetown Landcare Group representative Kim Morton said she hoped Corangamite Shire made a stand against oil drilling in the Bight.
“The estuary and coastal wetlands are vital breeding nurseries for fresh and marine fish species,” she said.
“A spill could wipe out entire generations for years to come.”
Great Ocean Road Regional Tourism chair Wayne Kayler-Thomson said the tourist icon is a “natural heritage asset” and an “attraction of international value”.
“The protection of this sensitive environment is of paramount importance,” he said.
“And so the risk of an oil spill from ocean mining is an unacceptable risk.”
Port Campbell Touring Company owner John McInerney said the “industralisation” of the ocean has had “devastating consequences”.
“Australia's natural strengths are our oceans and coastlines,” he said.
“They are unique so let’s not risk endangering them for short-term profits.”
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan told News Corp oil production in the Bight could generate more than 2000 jobs and generate $7 billion a year in taxes for state and federal governments.