Decision to oppose should close the divide

THE Port Lincoln City Council’s decision to oppose oil and gas exploration in the Great Australian Bight could be seen as a bit of a backflip.

In fact, over the last few days it has been called just that. 

But they aren’t alone in their decision with twelve other councils from around the state now opposing exploration.

A lot of people have had a lot to say, especially since the last motion to ban the exploration was not successful.

Of course, the community is aware that the past motion and even this most recent decision does not mean much in terms of what will or will not actually happen. 

Equinor will still be lodging its environment plan with NOPSEMA this year.

What it does do is show the council will stand with the local tourism and fishing industries who have some real concerns about not just an oil spill, but about how the presence of the industry could negatively affect them.

The matter of whether or not to oppose was debated quite a bit on Monday night, but it was clear the council wanted to give the community something after weeks of debate and division.

It is perhaps a bit premature to start talking about NOPSEMA potentially approving that plan, but it is a possibility.

However, what this latest decision should do, at least for the time being, is calm down both sides and close the divide in the community. 

Perhaps it is also a good opportunity for people to reflect on how they have behaved and treated other members of the community while this debate has been going on. 

So the council has decided to oppose exploration of the Bight – what now?

It would be great to see the industries and individuals that were so outspoken on this issue – both for and against – start thinking about other opportunities for the region.

If exploration is not the right choice for the Eyre Peninsula, that is fine, but the region does need something. 

Regions like the Eyre Peninsula continue to compete against opportunities developing in the metropolitan areas and regions closer to them and these are attracting the local, young and often skilled workforce.

There will never be a unanimous consensus on a new development, but options must be put on the table and discussed for the region to keep moving forward.