Protests against oil and gas exploration in the south-west will be held across the region on Saturday.
The protests, organised by Friends of The Earth and residents, relate to the May 2018 state government release of five new oil and gas exploration blocks in the offshore Otway Basin, extending from Port Campbell to the South Australian border.
The blocks, part of the national 2018 Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release, are in state waters up to three nautical miles off the coast.
State resources minister Tim Pallas said it would help to build long-term supply of gas for Victorian homes and businesses. The closing date for companies to tender to carry out exploration activities is February 15.
Rosebrook resident Genevieve Grant and others have organised the protests and said it was a very serious issue. She urged as many people as possible to attend the protests on Saturday.
Ms Grant has written to premier Daniel Andrews urging him to refuse to issue new licences and that it could lead to the destabilisation of the marine environment. “The potential spills of oil and gas along our fragile coastlines, will impact upon the fishing, farming and tourism industries in a most devastating way,” she said in the letter dated January 23.
“Given that we export 70 per cent of the gas produced in Australia, I fail to understand that the state government wishes to release new licences for offshore oil/gas exploration. This potential development from Port Campbell through to the South Australian border is completely unnecessary.”
Ms Grant has also voiced her concerns in similar letters to Moyne Shire councillors urging them to “exert pressure on the state government” and new licences would “have major consequences for our coastline and our struggling planet”.
“We’ve been told that from Port Campbell to the South Australian border that there’s been lots of activity, research and investigation into mining for gas and oil and where it might occur,” she said to The Standard.
“It's a big issue. There’s much at stake with tourism, fishing and the whale nursery and just in general. “The New Zealand government has banned new exploration permits for offshore oil, we’re saying we should do the same.
“If governments keep saying yes to these things it means they’re less likely to put their time and resources money into pursuing natural resources for renewables for our energy.
“The more divided they are and the more these people with a lot of money are waving cheques in front of their eyes are successful the less likelihood there is that we are to get the renewable energy stuff happening.”
Portland’s Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Gasfield Free Glenelg member Colleen Brown said she was opposed to the exploration and similar action would be held in Portland on Saturday.
“When they do the drilling they do seismic testing beforehand and in countries where it’s been happening for ages they’re getting a lot of data through about the impacts on the oceans,” Ms Brown said.
“People are coming here, not to see gas rigs, but to see whales and dolphins and seals and to enjoy our fishing industry which supplies the town with fresh fish so it’s not only an environmental issue.”
The protests are on Saturday at Port Fairy’s East Beach, near Charlie’s on East, at 10am and Warrnambool’s Logans Beach and Portland’s Nuns Beach at 12pm.
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