17 May 2021

South Coast rallies against spending on oil and gas

| Albert McKnight
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Forty protesters gathered in Moruya on 30 April demanding the Federal Government stop spending money on oil and gas. Photo: Supplied.

South Coast locals are demanding an end to Federal Government spending in oil and gas while it continues with plans to open new gas supplies.

On Friday (30 April), 40 locals rallied by the road in Moruya to call on the Morrison Government to cease spending on oil and gas projects as part of the Fund Our Futures, Not Gas campaign.

The rally was one of more than 32 across Australia in a week of action ahead of the 2021 Federal Budget, which protesters fear will contain large subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.

The protesters believe the government should use the budget to support communities across the country, not fossil fuels.

350 Eurobodalla coordinator Allan Rees said the protesters wanted any money planned for fossil fuels to instead be spent on education, bushfire recovery, local job creation and renewable energy.

“Renewable energy, education, housing, public transport, welfare and health are much better ways for the government to spend public money than on subsidising gas,” he said.

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“We’re worried there will be millions more taxpayer dollars being funnelled to a dirty, polluting fossil fuel when our community needs support to recover from the bushfires, the pandemic and in the midst of the worsening climate crisis.

“We are still suffering from extreme weather events made worse by climate change, like the recent bushfires and floods.

“To give public money to an industry that is worsening climate change and polluting our country is absurd.”

He was also concerned about the Government’s plans to open up new gas basins, saying it was a “shocking thing to be doing when we need to be reducing emissions of fossil fuels”.

In January, the Coalition Government stated it was continuing its commitments to unlock new gas supplies through the Strategic Basin Plans, with the Beetaloo Basin Plan finalised and work progressing on unlocking gas in the North Bowen and Galilee Basin.

The Strategic Basin Plans aim to increase gas and energy supply, increase exports and drive economic growth.

Minister for Resources Keith Pitt announced a commitment to provide up to $50million for exploration that occurs before 30 June 2022 in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin along with $173 million for road upgrades to support the development of a gas industry based on Beetaloo gas resources.

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“The Beetaloo has the potential to mirror the US shale gas revolution – bringing jobs and investment to the north while providing secure and affordable gas supplies to industry,” Mr Pitt said.

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources states Australia is on track to meet its 2030 target for greenhouse gas emissions of 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels.

Mr Rees said he was very pleased with the turnout at the rally as well as the response to it – a sign with the words “Honk for climate action” got plenty of honks from passing drivers.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed down public demonstrations over the past year.

“But I think there is now a mood for getting out there, and we see that with protesting and other social activities,” he said.

Mr Rees said his group was planning to host film nights focusing on climate films, continuing public events and demonstrations and getting involved in local government elections by letting residents know which candidates supported climate action.

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