Both sides of Bight debate need to be heard

THE debate over oil and gas exploration and drilling in the Great Australian Bight appears to only just be heating up.

This week a motion was put to Port Lincoln City councillors at their fortnightly meeting on Monday night, calling for a total ban on oil and gas exploration and drilling activity in the Great Australian Bight.

It is no surprise to hear there was a good number of people – about 45 – sitting in the gallery.

While trying not to jump to any conclusions, it is also likely most of them are pretty strongly opposed to exploration and drilling in the Bight.

But Port Lincoln is is a city of thousands so where are the other sides of the debate?

It is likely some people have not made up their minds but it’s also likely many people support exploration in the Bight.

While supporting this sort activity in the Bight does not seem like the most attractive side of the argument – there definitely aren’t any events, rallies or photo opportunities for those who support it – there is a very real possibility this side represents the quiet majority.

For example, the local business community has been quiet on where they stand on this issue.

Those who support the development of the oil and gas industry can see the benefits it would bring, namely jobs and income and surely these would also be welcomed by local businesses. 

The fishing and tourism industries have been vocal in their opposition of any exploration and drilling.

The concerns these industries have need to be considered seriously but also in a bit of context because it feels a bit like most people are only getting one side of the story.

In general it seems like those who support the industry might be lying low, maybe until they have more information or maybe they fear there would be some sort of backlash.

Either way, it would be good to hear from more of the community so perhaps a public meeting or forum is the next logical step.

Nobody is ready to give Equinor or any other oil or gas company a green light on the Bight but the council seems to have made a really sensible decision to get all the information it can before taking an official position on the matter.

It will also give those who support the industry a platform to share their side of the argument, hopefully without judgement or backlash.