Legislation to ban PEP 11 introduced

PARLIAMENT is in its second week for the new year and crossbench MPs have wasted little time in airing their objections to the PEP 11 exploration permit offshore Sydney.
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Paul Hunt

Deputy Editor: Energy & Commodities

Paul Hunt


Yesterday afternoon, independent member for Warringah Zali Steggall re-introduced a bill to ban oil and gas exploration in the 4575 square kilometre offshore area covered by the PEP 11 permit. 

A previous iteration of the bill was not voted on by the previous Parliament and expired. 

It came just a day before the Federal Court threw out a decision by former prime minister Scott Morrison to refuse to extend the life of the controversial exploration permit. 

Project proponents - Asset Energy (owned by BPH Energy and Mec Resources) and Bounty Oil and Gas - announced Justice Darren Jackson had agreed to consent orders today. 

"The presiding judge has agreed with the consent position reached by the parties quashed the decision and concluded that the decision of the joint authority was affected by apprehended bias," the companies said. 

"This was because a fair-minded observer would have reasonably apprehended that the former prime minister of Australia the Hon Scott Morrison MP, as a member of the joint authority, did not bring a fair mine to determine Asset Energy's application." 

This allows the permit to be extended with federal resources minister approval.

This week, Steggall rose in Parliament to introduce the new Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Stop PEP11 and Protect Our Coast) Bill 2023. 

She noted the controversial permit came within five kilometres of beaches through the Central Coast to Manly in New South Wales. 

"This bill will stop PEP-11 once and for all," Steggall declared. 

"It will ensure that no future applications for any reason can be granted by the joint authority or titles administrator for the area covered by PEP-11.

"There is a high likelihood that the proponents of the project will pursue litigation against the government regardless of the final decision by the joint authority," she said. 

"This bill provides a very clear and fast resolution to this problem. This bill states there can be no granting of any new licence or extension to an existing licence to extract oil and gas in the PEP-11 area. 

"It also prohibits any such licence being granted in the future."

The motion was seconded by fellow ‘teal' independent Sophie Scamps for the electorate of Mackellar.

"After being repeatedly assured just last year by both major parties that PEP-11 was dead in the water, here we are again having the same debate about the same pristine stretch of water that hugs the coastline of our most iconic city," Scamps said. 

"I can't say it more clearly: the people of the Northern Beaches will never accept drilling for oil and gas off our beaches."