Photo: Bianca de Marchi/AAP
Sydney ‘Kingmaker’ MP Alex Greenwich and a coalition of independent political hopefuls will try to kill off the controversial Pep-11 gas exploration license by banning development of the area through a change in New Wales law from the south.
The six independents, who could maintain the balance of power in less than two months, will introduce a bill on Saturday that would amend the State Planning Act to bar certain types of development on land and at sea, denying possible future federal approval.
“It is remarkable that the federal Labor government seeks to overturn the only good environmental policy of the previous coalition government,” Greenwich said.
“We will do everything we can in NSW to stop this.”
The move will be unveiled after the federal government and Asset Energy agreed to overturn former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to block further exploration of the gas field, which stretches from Manly to Newcastle, before it takes place. in the tribunals.
Related: Federal court could overturn Scott Morrison’s controversial veto of gas project off the New South Wales coast
On Friday night, the state’s premier, Dominic Perrottet, said he had told Anthony Albanese that his coalition government continued to oppose the project.
The final decision on the project now rests with a joint federal and state authority.
If re-elected, Greenwich will co-sign the new bill along with any of the five independent candidates who win their seats.
The bill would kill the plan to drill offshore regardless of the wishes of the federal government.
Jacqui Scruby, the independent candidate in Pittwater, said her community was “outraged” by the project and would do everything possible to stop it.
“This will be a critical factor in my decision-making if I am in a position to guarantee supply in a minority government,” he said.
Manly candidate Joeline Hackman, Vaucluse candidate Karen Freyer, North Shore candidate Helen Conway and Land Cove candidate Victoria Davidson will also support the bill as they prepare to campaign strongly on the weather for the next six weeks.
“The waters off the coast of New South Wales are not the place for a gas field,” Freyer said.
“I support this bill because my community does not want oil and gas extraction on its shores. It’s as simple as that”.
Davidson said it was a “historic example of how our politicians don’t represent their communities,” while Conway said people on the North Shore were telling him it was “time to take a stand and act now for faster action on the climate and the protection of our environment”.
Related: Scott Morrison accused of ‘bias’ by blocking Pep-11 gas permit using extraordinary ministerial powers
The Environmental Assessment and Planning Amendment (developing the Offshore Drilling Ban Bill) was crafted with outgoing Independent MP Justin Field.
In 2021, Morrison announced that the federal government would reject a two-year extension to the exploratory drilling license before it was revealed that he had done so by being sworn in as resources minister to get around then-resources minister Keith Pitt’s plan to extend it.
Asset Energy then launched a federal court challenge in light of the multi-portfolio scandal.
Labor fiercely opposed Pep-11 in the run-up to the federal election.
“We will prevent Pep-11 from going ahead, full stop. Exclamation mark. No doubt. I am not mistaken. No ifs, no buts,” Albanese said before becoming prime minister.
Environmental spokesperson for the state Greens, Sue Higginson, called on the federal and state governments to void the exploration agreement.
“Matt Kean needs to contact the federal resources minister and demand that the decision to end these seismic tests be redone in no uncertain terms so that NSW residents are released from this cycle of intimidation by the gas corporations,” he said.