We need proof that PEP-11 is dead in the water

15 February 2022

Opinion piece - Newcastle Herald

Where is the proof that PEP-11 is dead in the water?

The Prime Minister stood on a beach in December, thumbs up, smiling in selfies, and said the offshore drilling would not go ahead on his watch.

But these are just words. Has anyone signed on the dotted line to kill off Petroleum Export Licence 11?

Where is Resources Minister Keith Pitt? Has he signed?

Our community deserves answers to these questions and deserves proof that PEP-11 will not go ahead. Before the election.

Can we trust Scott Morrison and his Liberal-National Queensland Resources Minister to do the deal?

Minister Pitt can still end this project with the stroke of a pen. Yet he hasn’t. Why not? He has been silent. Why?

Minister Pitt had the chance to rule out PEP 11 in Parliament this week, but instead he chose to promulgate the lie that Labor would shut down resource projects at the behest of the Greens. That is simply not true.

But Labor does want to shut down PEP 11 – we have campaigned hard on it. So does our community.  So do many coalition MPs.  Why has the Prime Minister allowed his Minister to stall?

Does Minister Pitt still harbour a desire for this project to go ahead? Only he can tell us. He must come clean.

All he has said about the project is that he will take on board the views of the community. Well in case he has missed them, let me remind him.

Communities right up and down the NSW coast – from Northern Sydney to the Central Coast, Newcastle, and Port Stephens – have rejected PEP-11.

We do not want offshore drilling for oil and gas that could damage our pristine waterways, our marine life, our marine industries, our tourism, our jobs, and our livelihoods.

Extending PEP-11 never made sense, economically, environmentally or from an energy perspective.

Our communities have been living with this hanging over our heads for years. And in December, we thought the deal was done.

Minister Pitt was supposed to make a decision a year ago. Twelve months later, is he still considering it, still taking advice?

What about the advice – the instruction – of his Prime Minister?

Scott Morrison must prove his PEP-11 announcement on the beach in December was more than cynical politics. He must instruct his Resources Minister to end this project today.

And Minister Pitt must prove, once and for all, that PEP 11 is dead in the water.