The Government needs to stop putting the interests of big companies ahead of the protection of Australia's unique environment and marine life, Greens Senator for South Australia, Penny Wright, said.
Senator Wright moved a motion in the Senate today calling on the Government to cease issuing oil and gas exploration leases in the Great Australian Bight until after final decisions have been made on the establishment of marine sanctuaries. Currently less than 1 per cent of the Bight is protected from oil and gas operations but it is home to many species found nowhere else on earth.
Senator Wright also called for the Government to prohibit night-time seismic testing and require the mandatory the use of passive acoustic technology after environmental groups raised concerns about potential dangers to whales posed by the current testing. The motion was defeated.
"It is hard to believe that less than 1 per cent of the Great Australian Bight is protected from oil and gas operations when 90 per cent of its marine life is found nowhere else on the planet," Senator Wright said.
"It is unacceptable that BP is permitted to carry out seismic testing in Great Australian Bight Marine Park areas that are home to approximately 30 species of whales and dolphins, including the critically endangered blue whale.
"The Greens share the grave concerns of environmental groups that seismic testing too close to whales causes them physical injury, including organ and hearing damage, and haemorrhaging, which can result in death.
"Unfortunately the old parties are more concerned about putting the interests of large companies before protecting our environment.
"The Great Australian Bight is a globally significant area for marine life. On a shrinking planet with more and more threats to the environment we must properly protect and preserve this unique environment for our benefit and for our kids and grandkids."
Transcript of motion can be found here.