If the Liberal-National government in New South Wales (NSW) wins the upcoming March election, they will override a court order to open up gas drilling along the state’s coastline. Energy Minister and Treasurer Matt Kean has described the move as standing “up for the environment.” This announcement follows the Federal Court of Australia’s decision to quash former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ruling to block the extension of the PEP-11 permit, which would have allowed gas drilling along a stretch of NSW coastline between Wollongong, Sydney, and Newcastle. The court’s ruling returns the decision-making power to the NSW and federal government and the holder of PEP-11, Asset Energy.
In an interview with Sky News Australia, “teal” independent in the Northern Beaches region of Sydney, Zali Steggall, said that the area has “huge economic reliance on tourism and environment, and the communities are very opposed to it.”
At a press conference on Feb. 15, Kean called on the Albanese government to “back our plan and ban the drilling for offshore gas in Commonwealth waters as well.” His colleague, James Griffin, the environment minister, supported the call.
The proposal has been welcomed by many on the political spectrum and those living along the affluent coastal areas between Wollongong to Newcastle, though it has been criticized. Lyle Shelton, upper house candidate for the NSW Parliament, said that banning offshore gas exploration when energy prices were soaring would only increase the “inflationary and cost of living screws on people in Western Sydney.” He added that “a gas rig over the horizon pumping cheap, reliable and abundant energy is a much more attractive proposition than an ocean full of windmills which don’t work on still days and slice up sea birds on windy days.”
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