Let the experts decide
Some of you may have seen the 90 second advert that screened for on television that featured myself making comments on the proposal to explore for oil in the Great Australian Bight.
I was asked last year if I was willing to go public to express my previously aired opinions on exploring for oil in the Great Australian Bight.
Given some the of personal undermining and attacks I have endured because of my views - from people that I have known for a very long time - and continuously wanting to see our own community grow and prosper from realistic economic opportunities, I agreed.
My opinion is actually relatively straightforward; If NOPSEMA, the independent regulatory authority set up in 2010 by the Labor government of the day, comprehensively considers the proposal including the environmental management plan, sets an extensive range of controls and conditions and then backs that up with thorough and diligent compliance, then I am happy to accept and support oil being explored for in the Great Australian Bight.
What I am not willing to support is an intimidating and emotionally driven “lynch mob” approach that tries to put unfair and unreasonable pressure on organisations like Eyre Peninsula councils to publicly announce opposition and then point to that as a demonstration of a lack of public/community support to governments and NOPSEMA.
I have argued extensively over the years in defence of aquaculture and fishing in my previous roles as chairman of the National Aquaculture Council, the South Australian Aquaculture Council, the South Australian Oyster Growers Association and my current role as chairman of Oysters Australia against unfair and unreasonable emotionally driven and manipulated allegations.
The best example of this was what I still refer to as “the kingfish debacle” from the early 2000s.
As chairman of the SA Aquaculture Council, I had to stand up for the aquaculture industry against a range of allegations against the kingfish farming industry and the alleged bizarre consequence of escaped kingfish on the environment.
Yes, farming practices at the time had to improve and they did, but to stand up in front of an emotionally charged audience and say that over fishing is what is decreasing fish numbers in the gulfs, not escaped kingfish ravishing the local fish population, painted me as a local villain beyond belief which took many years to fade, and that was without social media!
Horrifyingly, I can see many parallels to what happened then with that issue to what is happening now with this issue.
Ironically, many of the arguments I am using, particularly in regards to the importance of growing local employment and keeping young people in communities, have been used extensively in the past by aquaculture and fishing industry leaders in defence of their own industries when under public attack.
I have always been a huge fan of the triple bottom line approach (environmental, social and economic) when it comes to managing and allocating our coastal and marine resources.
There always has to be a balance between what can and should be exploited, broader community needs and environmental protection.
When it comes to determining and balancing all of this in relation to offshore oil and gas exploration, the only organisation that is currently capable and, in a position to objectively do this given the complexity involved, is NOPSEMA.
Well done to Port Neill
Having grown up in Port Neill in the 1950s, the last visit being 10 years ago, my wife and I recently returned for a short stay.
In spite of negative comments in latter years of the town's decline, we were extremely pleased to find the positive changes that have been implemented.
Notably the foreshore area with landscaping, signage, walking trails and mosaic seat depicting local birds.
According to the locals, under the new licensees, the hotel has greatly improved, and we enjoyed very good meals there.
In my childhood days the town boasted two grocery stores, a butcher, baker and post office.
Over the years this was eroded to one store with limited facilities.
Full credit to the Pfitzner family who are doing a remarkable job of providing essential and valuable services to the local community.
On visiting the Tumby Bay Museum, Grant was very helpful in searching for family information and photos, some of which we had never seen before.
Well done to all Port Neill residents who are doing their best to keep this lovely little seaside town alive and well.
Sunshine Coast, Qld
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