Surfers head to Canberra to stop gas rigs off Sydney

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

It was the strangest protest paddle out yet.

With their toes sinking in mud, boards floating on boot-brown water, and a thirty knot southerly ripping down the corridor from Parliament House, the assembled surfers gathered in Australia's only non-coastal capital.

The delegation consisted of members from both Surfrider Foundation and Save Our Coast and the reason they'd travelled to Canberra wasn't just to quench themselves in Lake Burley Griffin, but to lobby against the PEP11 gas exploration permit off the coast of Sydney and Newcastle.

Petroleum Exploration Zone 11 is a 4,500 square kilometre area off the coast between Newcastle and Sydney that’s been explored for oil and gas reserves since 1998. The company currently holding the PEP11 license, Advent Energy, could be drilling there as early as next year. If they did, it would be the first offshore gas well on the Australian east coast.

Currently, Advent Energy have applied to NOPTA (the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator) to switch their activity title from exploration to drilling. However, the PEP11 permit expires in February 2021 and needs to be extended. This extension falls under joint Federal and State authority and needs to be signed off by both Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro.

Drying their feet on the lawn at Parliament House, the surfers then spoke about the pending decision. Sharing the microphone was Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson - who arranged the gathering - plus MPs and Senators from across the political divide, including Jason Falinski (Liberal), Zali Steggall (Independent), Sharon Claydon (Labor), Emma McBride (Labor), Pat Conroy (Labor) and Mehreen Faruqi (Greens).

“Nobody wants to see gas rigs on the horizon off Sydney, Newcastle, and the Central Coast,” said Surfrider Foundation Australia Chair, Sean Doherty. “This is an iconic coastline, the envy of people all around the world, and the idea of turning it into a gas field is sacrilegious. It’s the last place on the Australian coast you’d ever consider industrialising, and yet it’s on the verge of happening. We congratulate the MPs and Senators here looking beyond politics and speaking up for the people of the coast. We can all agree that PEP11 is a turkey.”

“The time has long passed where a coastline like this is seen as more valuable to a gas company than it is to the people who live on it. That’s old thinking. The campaign to save the Great Australian Bight showed that people have had enough of their homes being plundered and ruined for the profits of the fossil fuel industry. People are fed up. If PEP11 is approved, last year’s Bight paddle-outs will seem like a low key warm-up.”

On Monday afternoon in the Senate, Peter Whish-Wilson moved a motion to stop PEP11, which was voted down by the Government with the support of One Nation.

Click for more information on PEP11


indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 11:18am

I know this is real, but had to giggle it comes across as almost satire.

Surely there was more people there than the photo shows, or better arguments than the visual issue.

I think sometimes unless you have the numbers and do things properly, it can even work against your argument.

The bight thing was done a lot better and obviously had a much better argument to not go ahead.

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 11:38am

The swim surely is just a PR stunt to give the media something to grab on to. I imagine there is quality lobbying going on behind the scenes. Sean Doherty's Instagram account is extremely thorough and well researched.


BBrowny's picture
BBrowny's picture
BBrowny commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 11:41am

In recent months the Liberals have made motions that should make the PEP11 drilling untenable. Think about pushback against profit shifting from mining companies, an "Australia first" prioritising of resources (how much of our gas is exported?), and now confirming Kyoto credits won't be used moving forwards. It's going to take activists to stick those pieces together and show the public that PEP11 is unnecessary.
Go Sean! Go Surfrider!

joesydney's picture
joesydney's picture
joesydney commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 5:27pm

Not sure where you get that idea about the Liberals? Pretty clear gas development is on the agenda.

Hopefully there is more weight to this argument other than, its visually unappealing. I think HV power lines look shit but I get why they are there,

sangsta's picture
sangsta's picture
sangsta commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 2:19pm

The view of the oil rigs off Huntington Beach always makes me shudder.
Better view now then in 1920:
however does Australia really need more gas, seismic testing and rigs built on/off the beautiful Central Coast?

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 9:51am

Not at all saying that this is where things are heading in Australia but this is just the most surreal photo.
Post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland.'s picture's picture commented Thursday, 10 Dec 2020 at 9:13pm

I say we build big rigs out the front of Keith Pitts place just like when people are found guilty of killing trees for a better view in some councils.


D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 9:05am

None of these protesters use gas I assume?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 9:28am

Amazing how many times the same question comes up, gets answered, usually politely and thoroughly, only to be completely forgotten a few weeks later when the very same question gets posted as if being asked for the first time.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 9:50am

Thank you to all the participants in the protest and their actions to defend the Aussie coast. You are acting on behalf of all right minded Australians and their descendants .

Again- Thanks very much. All power to you.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 12:50pm

Great Work one & all.
Natural Gas outfall stabilises Seismic Newcastle Earthquake by mining.

There have been 3 past Tsunamis + 3 more predicted at 8 Gas outfalls on the Shelf.
These Gas outfalls are linked capping 23km inshore exerts pressure at Shelf outfalls.
Seismic Hydrocarbons are the lifeforce for EAC upwellings / Temps / Fish Biodiversity
Crew know that interference or capping of gas depletes life giving EAC current.
Mildly put, we're talking of depletion of Krill then detour of Whale Migration.
The company says 11yr supply > Seemingly gonna suck the Gas outfall dry...Leaving no Habitat?
More importantly risking further Earthquakes...
tbb sussed Pakenham Earthquake Tremors began with Bass Gas Pipelines.
See timely Newcastle Coal & Bass Gas triggered responding Earthquakes...This is real!
Just because no one was held responsible doesn't mean it's not happening. (Coincidence?)
If all the gas is sucked outta here then we know from experience > "Earthquake will follow".
Reminding of linked Giant Sand Slip Tsunami Hot Spots. (Can't Stamp that..sorry mate!)

Maritime NSW Govt know 10 x more & long voted against all offshore Dredging / Drilling.

Federal Govt : "We can override your puny NSW Govt"
Feds: "Admits State Laws are far more thorough & responsible than Fed's feather.

Gas pipeline stretches out from Newcastle 20-30km & south back to Colongra Power Station
BHP: "These Gas Pipelines attract 2 to 3x Commercial Marine Habitat"
Meaning they detour biodiversity away from natural reef habitats to trace Pipeline.
Shark Pipeline of Maccas Drive Thrus brings the Boys to the Port's Food Court...Yum Yum.
BHP kindly dumps a sea of "bio debris" as a gift..( Fishy pipeline to rip fisher's nets!)
Go nicely with all them becoming a mine course for fishers.
This project has an 11 year Gas lifespan but company will likely argue to leave the Pipeline.
Shark migration moving away or toward shore to trace 20-30km Pipeline needs investigating.

Communication Cables are also big news & Chile has one coming via NZ north thru this lease.
North Cables run closest inshore from Sydney to Japan...
Possible Dual Chile < (NZ/OZ) > Japan Communication security Lease contract.
Recent North line was the cancelled Huawei cable. (Could be some Chile upgrade?)
(Oz Undersea China cable cut out is biggest reason for the payback )

D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex commented Friday, 11 Dec 2020 at 8:02pm

Similar to ER protesters yesterday, same as tomorrow's ... protesters, hypocrites all.