I second the motion. I rise in support of the member for Warringah's Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Stop PEP11 and Protect Our Coast) Bill 2023 and thank her for her tireless efforts to protect our environment and our climate. The licence to perform exploratory drilling and seismic blasting for oil and gas off our incredible coastline, from Manly to Newcastle, must be cancelled permanently, without any possibility of resurrection or further consideration.
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. Here we are again, standing on this crossbench, imploring the government to take climate change and our environment seriously.
I can't say it more clearly: the people of the Northern Beaches will never accept drilling for oil and gas off our beaches. Protecting our local environment is one of the most important issues for the Northern Beaches population, and this stretch of coastline and waterways is amongst the most stunning and special in the world. As locals we delight in swimming with the dolphins in the waves, and every year we marvel at the whale migrations. These waters are home to seals, sea turtles and penguins and many, many other sea creatures. The risk to our marine wildlife, environment and coastline from oil leaks and spills, from methane leaks and from seismic blasting is not something we will ever accept. And this is not mere NIMBYism. Repeated surveys have shown that strong action on climate change is the most important issue for the people of the Northern Beaches.
The UN Secretary-General has told us in no uncertain terms that the world's addiction to fossil fuels amounts to mutually assured destruction. They and the highly regarded international energy agency the IPCC have both stated emphatically that, if we are to achieve net zero by 2050, there must be no new fossil fuel supply projects. However, within three months of taking office in May last year, this government announced the 2020 offshore petroleum exploration acreage release, making over 46,700 square kilometres of new acreage off the coast of the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Victoria available for exploration for gas. Forty-six thousand seven hundred square kilometres is an area larger than Belgium. And, let's be clear, there is no gas shortage in this country; it's just that the majority of our gas is shipped overseas, while Australians are left paying exorbitant rises for our own gas. Even worse than that is the fact that many of these multinational fossil fuel companies use every possible loophole and accounting trick to avoid paying corporate tax in our country, and they end up paying trivial amounts, if any. The people of the Northern Beaches do not accept new exploration for oil or gas anywhere in Australian waters.
The Albanese government claims to be different from the last one. It claims to be committed to emissions reductions, to slowing global warming and to ensuring that we leave this planet in a livable condition for future generations. However, this government is not walking the talk. I urge the Albanese government to start walking the talk on climate change and on the environment, and vote in favour of this bill.