Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall OAM and Independent candidate for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps have claimed victory following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to end the PEP 11 licence.

Ms Steggall has questioned whether the Prime Minister’s announcement to kill off the Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 (PEP 11) is sufficient to end it. Speaking to the Northern Beaches Advocate in response to the announcement, the Member for Warringah said she believed Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt had to make the decision.

 

Zali Steggall

Zali Steggall

 

“We’ve put in some calls to make sure that this is actually done, because it does require the Resources Minister to write and sign the letter. The notice to not extend the permit requires the signature of the Minister. So we want to make sure that this isn’t just an announcement. We want to make sure it really is off because we definitely don’t want it,” said Ms Steggall.

Ms Steggall paid tribute to the efforts of many people in the community and said the decision had been made because it had become politically ‘toxic’.

“It’s taken an amazing amount of pressure from the community to make this so politically toxic, that it has to be killed off. That’s the reality of it, especially Jason [Falinski] and the Prime Minister’s comments today at the press conference, saying, ‘Oh look, this has got nothing to do with any of the pressure of Independents’. The very fact you’re saying that shows the pressure and the feedback you’re getting from the community,” said Ms Steggall.

Independent candidate for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps, who announced ending the PEP 11 licence as one of her objectives at the launch of her campaign (Sunday, 05 December), said the Prime Minister had ‘caved’ to pressure from Independents.

 

Sophie Scamps

Sophie Scamps

 

“This licence has been live since 1999, so it is no coincidence that Prime Minister Morrison caved just as Independent campaigns like ours in Mackellar and Zali Steggall in Warringah made this a key issue for the upcoming election.

“If this is the type of result that can happen after launching an Independent campaign, imagine what else can be achieved if we are successful in Mackellar.

“Much credit must go to Zali Steggall who fought hard against PEP 11, including through her Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage (Stopping PEP11) Bill.

“My aim is to provide Mackellar with the same sort of independent voice in Canberra that reflects the wishes and concerns of this community rather than falling in with the party line like our current representative has done on key issues like climate change,” said Dr Scamps.

Member for Mackellar Jason Falinski refuted claims the cancellation of the PEP 11 licence was due to pressure from Independents.

 

Jason Falinski

Jason Falinski

 

“This is what good policy looks like. It gets done by people working together for a common purpose, that puts politics second and puts people first. That’s good policy.

“What happened today was a group of people, some in Parliament, some not in Parliament, who worked together and put their egos aside for the benefit of our communities on the coast and future generations who will live on the coast. That’s what we did today.

“There have been a bunch of people who really have no policies, who just have the vibe, they don’t actually talk about anything they’re going to do. They said that the current members of Parliament that they’re running against are ineffective because they couldn’t get PEP 11 cancelled, well today, PEP 11 was cancelled. So their whole rationale for running against these members of Parliament is completely and utterly obliterated.

“The argument about whether we were responding to them or not, just demonstrates they have no understanding of how government works, and therefore should not be running for Parliament, if they think policy decisions like these get made in 10 days.

“It’s like those people who say, why don’t you cross the floor? Because one vote on the floor of Parliament changes nothing. The way democracy works is you need to convince a majority of people that you should change. That’s how it works. If you don’t understand that, then you shouldn’t be running for Parliament because what you’re arguing for is not a democracy, you’re arguing for autocracy,” said Mr Falinski.

Dr Scamps said the decision on PEP 11 was a victory but she intends to continue pursuing the issue of ending reliance on fossil fuels.

“Exploration and extraction would have threatened the environment and coastal businesses driving our local economy. We should not be opening new gas wells when all the evidence from the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] says we must transition from fossil fuels to clean energy,” said Dr Scamps.

Image: Northern Beaches Advocate