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Newcastle surfers call on PM to uphold PEP-11 gas drilling ban


Novocastrians, and environmentalists, are calling on Anthony Albanese to honour his pre-election commitment and rule out the PEP-11 licence once and for all.

It’s come to light in recent days the former PM Scott Morrison used his extraordinary ministerial powers to overrule Minister for Resources Keith Pitt on the controversial Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 project, without revealing he had appointed himself responsible for the portfolio.

Asset Energy is now lobbying Mr Albanese and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet to overturn the decision.

But, Newcastle surfer Belinda Baggs wants the current Prime Minister to stick to his word – and give residents “certainty”.

“Serious concerns have been raised about the potential impacts of offshore gas exploration and drilling on marine environments and life, including whales, as well as the local community,” she said.

“Renewables should also be the preferred source of new energy given the need for urgent climate action to reduce emissions and global warming.

“I grew up surfing in these pristine waters off Newcastle, the saltwater binds my family together.

“I have cousins and friends who rely on a healthy ocean for their livelihoods. 

“The community has made its opposition to PEP-11 clear over the past few years, we simply don’t want to risk marine life, our own well-being and livelihoods for gas drilling.”

The Surfers for Climate co-founder said Newcastle had already experienced climate impacts from fires to floods.

“Now, many of the beaches I grew up surfing on including Bar Beach are suffering from extreme erosion,” Ms Baggs stated.

“We must keep all new fossil fuels in the ground, including gas, and instead invest in a renewable future. 

“It’s right to investigate Morrison’s methods when in government but that doesn’t change the fact that drilling for gas between Newcastle and Sydney, Australia’s most populated coastline, is a terrible idea. 

“We are calling on Mr Albanese to honour his commitments opposing PEP 11.

“He stood on the beach at Avoca and stated: ‘A Labor government that I lead will rule out PEP-11 full stop’.

“Now the community needs certainty that the Prime Minister will rule it out once and for all.”

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