A campaign to stop offshore gas exploration off the coast between Sydney and Newcastle has attracted an historic show of cross-party unity in Canberra.
Labor, Liberal, Independent and Greens MPs gathered on the lawn front of Parliament House on Monday to urge federal resources minister Keith Pitt to reject an application to renew Petroleum Exploration Permit 11.
"The flawed and devastating plan that is PEP 11 that risks our coastal ecosystem, precious marine animals and way of life, has naturally been met with distress and outrage from coastal communities with thousands attending our events, and 23,000 actions taken from all over Australia as part of our current campaign to STOP PEP 11," Save Our Coast founder Dr Natasha Deen said.
"We have spent three years having 13,000 conversations in the community, and collected 77,000 signatures on petitions, and we have heard how deeply the community is opposed to PEP 11.
Several petroleum companies have explored the 4500-square-kilometre zone since 1999 with each concluding that there is little viable resource to be extracted.
But, the latest holder of the licence, Advent Energy, has sought to extend it for another five years when it expires next February.
Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon described the application as an "absolute travesty."
"This extension would threaten our precious marine environment, damage our reputation and impose a direct threat to jobs in our tourism and commercial fishing industries. That's why I was very proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with community members today and say no to PEP 11," she said.
Shortland MP Pat Conroy said the application, if approved, would ruin tens of thousands of jobs.
"We have tens of thousands of local jobs that depend upon hospitality, our beach and coastal way of life," he said.
"My message is: if you're pro-jobs, you need to be anti-PEP 11. If you're pro the environment, you need to be anti-PEP 11. And ultimately if you're pro the coast and pro jobs, you need to be anti-PEP 11. I've never seen a community campaign that is so strong, so organised, and strength to you."
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