Corangamite Shire Council has joined with several other councils to oppose drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight but not without the mayor opposing the council’s action.
The council’s decision follows on a “Big Oil Go Jump” rally in Port Campbell earlier this month that also called for a ban on oil drilling in the bight. The rally was attended by about 300 people.
The council’s decision to back a ban on oil drilling was initiated by Cr Simon Illingworth who said a spill from any oil drilling in the bight would threaten not only the pristine waters off the shire’s coastline but also thousands of jobs in the local tourism industry.
Cr Illingworth said the site proposed for drilling in the bight was in very treacherous waters where a spill would be very difficult to contain.
But mayor Neil Trotter opposed Cr Illinworth’s motion, saying he had grown up with oil exploration and did not think the Australian economy had transitioned fully to renewable energy.
“We are still highly dependent on fossil fuel,” Cr Trotter said.
He said the petrochemical industry was also a large employer in Corangamite shire with about 400 people directly employed in the industry.
Australia’s economy needed to transition over time away from fossil fuels and the shire should temper its idealism about banning oil drilling and take a pragmatic approch, Cr Trotter said.
Cr Illingworth said his motion was not anti-gas or anti-oil but was against oil drilling in the bight.
His motion was carried with a majority vote.