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PEP 11:

Morrison’s Trumpian-style announcement

With much fanfare and hoopla, Scott Morrison - a true disciple of the Trumpian style of politics - along with Federal Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks, announced LNP’s intention to refuse Advent Energy’s Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 (PEP-11).

 

So, will this be just another of Scotty’s ‘I’m there for the announcement’ promise and then, in a classic Morrison archetypical practice, fails to deliver.

Scott Morrison announces his vote-gathering intention to refuse PEP-11.

17 December 2021

ALAN HAYES

 

YESTERDAY’S announcement by the Prime Minister that PEP-11 would be rejected by his government was not a fait accompli. It didn’t come anywhere near it and has left Scott Morrison with plenty of wriggle room to walk away from the Central Coast Community and kowtow to Advent Energy, the offshore gas exploration company.

 

Morrison belated intension to reject the proposed extension of Advent Energy’s Petroleum Exploration was just that – an intension, not a commitment, not a no ifs, not a no buts, and not a guarantee. It was the all too familiar pattern of behavior that Coasties have experienced before from a Liberal Government – promise the ‘rubes’ what they want leading up to an election and then shaft them once in office or re-elected.

 

Scott Morrison has a reputation with being loose with the truth and then not delivering. His ‘Doctor Good Snake Oil’ brand of peddling , his quick-step and side shuffle, followed by a plethora of excuses, is what Australians have learnt to expect from this man. So, why should Coasties trust him now?

 

At yesterday’s announcement the Prime Minister said “Gas is an important part of Australia’s current and future energy mix but this is not the right project for these communities and pristine beaches and waters.”

 

Morrison said the major reasons for refusal were high levels of community opposition and the fact the Government is not satisfied that the applicant is able to raise sufficient funding to progress the work program in a timely manner and in the timeframe of the permit conditions.

 

And there it is! Scotty ‘Never-Tell-a-Lie’ spinning the truth. The Government has not refused Advent Energy’s exploration permit nor have they refused the project.

 

Let’s be clear: the Morrison-Joyce Government has left the Central Coast community in limbo and ignored their wishes for nearly 12 months despite the overwhelming opposition to PEP-11. And although the Federal Government has written to the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) of its intention to refuse the renewal application, NOPTA, as the regulator, will grant Advent Energy 30 days to respond to the notice of intention to refuse the application.

 

Liberal Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks, who was with the Prime Minister, said the move was an “important decision” for the Central Coast and reflected the “values and care” the community has towards the environment and oceans.

 

After years of campaigning by Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, Lucy Wicks, late last year jumped on board and mirrored Emma McBride’s campaign.

 

There is no doubt that Lucy Wicks realises, as does the government, that her re-election to the seat of Robertson is not a shoe-in.

 

Yesterday’s decision is more than 300 days overdue and could have been made quickly in February with a stroke of a pen by Scott Morrison’s Minister for Resources, Keith Pitt who has the final decision on the future of the licence.

 

Extending PEP-11 has never made sense from an economic, environmental, or energy perspective. It would have put at risk thousands of local jobs in tourism, hospitality, and recreational and commercial fishing.

 

But is the Prime Minister, whose priorities are his Liberal mates and making announcements that suit his short-term political prospects, ‘fair-dinkum’ about stopping PEP-11? Or was his apparent surrender to the massive campaign, run by the community and Labor to stop this awful project, just a Scotty ‘Never-Tell-a-Lie’ electioneering stunt?

 

Scott Morrison has been saying he doesn’t approve the PEP-11 extension since March, but has been sitting on his hands or twiddling his thumbs with excuses.

 

Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride said that Coasties deserve answers.

 

“Our community has been calling for an end to PEP-11 for years,” she said.

 

“Now, on the eve of an election and 10 months after the original deadline, we learn the Government has an ‘intention’ to stop PEP-11.

“But the Government has made promises like this before and they’ve failed to follow through, so how can our community trust this announcement?”

 

Ms. McBride has made it clear she stands against PEP-11 and so has Labor. She said it is now up to the government to act.

 

“They were supposed to rule on this project back in February, over 10 months ago,” she said.

 

“What our community wants to see is action, not more announcements.

 

“The Government needs to draw a line in the sand and put a stop to PEP-11 once and for all.”

 

Labor candidate for Roberson Dr. Gordon Reid said that yesterday’s announcement on PEP-11 was nothing but a statement of intent.

 

“The Central Coast Community has come together these past ten months to oppose offshore drilling, and the Government continues to string us along,” Dr. Reid said.

 

The Federal Minister for Resources and Water Keith Pitt, and a member of the Queensland National Party, has, as always, during the campaign to stop PEP-11 been missing in action. His was missing in action yesterday and he is the Minister that Morrison has to convince to reject PEP-11.

 

So far, despite the concern by Lucy Wicks, and previous promises by Scott Morrison that PEP-11 was dead in the water, nothing positive has happened. There has been no official rejection to the PEP-11 project by the government.

 

“No dotted line has been signed to actually kill off PEP-11,” said Dr. Reid.

 

“Actions speak louder than words and make no mistake, all Coasties got from ScoMo and his Liberal Member for Robertson yesterday were just words.

 

“People on the Central Coast want more than hot air. They want the Prime Minister and the current Liberal Member for Robertson to end this dangerous plan for our coastline.

 

“I remain incredibly sceptical about this announcement. This community is entitled to be very sceptical too. Promises have been made before with no results.

 

“As far as I’m concerned, this is still a waiting game for our community who have clearly and overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to PEP-11.

 

“Commuter car parks, high speed rail, a vaccination rollout… after so many broken promises, Coasties deserve more than words.”

 

Federal Member for Shortland, Pat Conroy, said that he will believe Scott Morrison’s announcement once Keith Pitt, the Minister responsible, signs the piece of paper denying the exploration licence.

 

“So, I won’t believe it until then,” Pat Conroy said.

 

Ten months ago, the recommendation from the NSW State Government landed on Keith Pitt’s desk recommending that the project should be blocked.

 

Scott Morrison could have killed the project stone dead then but he didn’t. It has sat on his desk since then while he dillied and dallied because he wanted the project approved. And why? Because there is no doubt that the National Party, and to a lesser degree the Liberal Party, are owned and operated by the big mining and resource companies. For example, Gina Rinehart flew Barnaby Joyce to a wedding in India on a private jet. Such is their close relationship.

 

So, there is a huge issue with yesterday’s announcement. Clearly, Minister Keith Pitt wants to approve the Advent Energy project, but will more than likely be dragged kicking and screaming, at one-minute-to-midnight, and refuse it, only because the government fears losing seats up and down the coast.

 

And would Lucy Wicks be aware of this scenario? She certainly would.

 

Yesterday’s announcement was not about stopping PEP-11 because Scott Morrison cares about the Central Coast, it was about getting Lucy Wicks and the Morrison-Joyce Government re-elected. Otherwise, why wasn't the project killed off long ago when the NSW State Government recommended that course of action?

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