New fields opposed by locals
Anger is mounting after the Federal Government opened up oil and gas exploration neater the Twelve Apostles.
The government has opened bidding for offshore petroleum exploration acreage at 21 sites off the coast of Victoria and Western Australia.
One of these future leases runs along the coast between Port Campbell and Yuulong in south-west Victoria., alongside the Great Ocean Road and tourist attractions including the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and Wreck Beach.
It comes two years after a fifth of the population of Port Campbell gathered in the town to protest against deep-sea drilling in the Great Australian Bight.
Gillian Blair, a member of south-west Victorian environmental group Protect The West, says the move makes no sense.
“The federal government is looking at supporting a gas industry which will be a stranded asset — no damned good economically within 10 years,” she said.
“We should all be marching in the streets about this.
“People in that area are worried — some of them have tried to take action on this.
“It's really difficult when you're up against a government that's supporting huge corporations that are making money out of Australia — very little of it comes back to Australia, by the way.
“It's a very bad idea.
“There are all sorts of international organisations who are advised by thousands of scientists who've done lots of work on this subject who say that if we have any more coal, gas or oil exploration and release, then we are cooking our own goose.”
Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt says the move will be good for the economy.
“The annual acreage release is a crucial component of the government's gas-fired recovery plan,” Mr Pitt said.
“It is vitally important that Australians have access to reliable and affordable energy, both now and in the future.
“Exploration will continue to play a key role in supporting Australia's economic growth by encouraging investment in development prospects, as well as unlocking additional supply.
“This year's release provides opportunities in established oil and gas provinces with existing infrastructure as well as under-explored areas of offshore Victoria [that are] also within reach of existing infrastructure.”