Port Lincoln Council votes to oppose oil exploration

Port Lincoln City Council has become the twelfth South Australian council to oppose oil drilling and exploration in the Great Australian Bight.

At its meeting on Monday night the council voted, five to four, to stand with its fishing, aquaculture and tourism industries in expressing concern about the effects of seismic testing and consequences of a possible major oil spill, and declare opposition to oil drilling and exploration.

This comes two weeks after a motion to oppose oil drilling and exploration in the Bight, which triggered a public meeting to discuss the matter, was lost in a council vote.

Port Lincoln mayor Bruce Green said he felt there was a feeling of relief when the motion was passed after weeks of division and debate amongst the council and the community.

“It was a difficult decision for the elected members and will continue to be a position that divides this community but from the council’s point of view we have a position that’s clear,” he said.

“From the community’s point of view it’s not the end of the process because the proponent (Equinor) will be lodging its Environmental Plan later in the year so the community will still be heavily engaged in this.”

Councillor Graham Mantle, who put forward the new motion, said the motion was about an expression of legitimate concerns from industries Port Lincoln depended upon.

Councillor Diana Mislov said she supported the motion “with reluctance” but said this issue had divided the community and thought the council should give something to the community that  would suffice.

Councillor Danny Bartlett put forward an amendment to the motion that included removing any declaration of opposition but this was voted down.

Deputy mayor Neville Starke spoke against the motion and said he had complete faith in NOPSEMA and believed Port Lincoln should keep its options open for future growth and employment.

Chamber of Commerce and Tourism chairperson Jack Ritchie said it was a difficult decision to make and it was good to see the council consider it from all different sides.

“I think it’s very positive they are standing in support of our local industries and all the direct and indirect jobs they contribute to our economy,” he said.