Media Releases - 28 July 2021

Surf Coast Council votes to oppose Otways oil and gas exploration and 12 Apostles acreage release

Belinda Baggs, co-founder of Surfers for Climate, takes to the surf to voice her opposition to new gas exploration. Image: Zoe Strapp.

Last night, the Surf Coast Shire Council passed a motion to oppose the 2021 Offshore Petroleum Acreage release (the 2021 Acreage Release) and all new oil and gas exploration and development and seismic testing in the Otway Basin. The 2021 Acreage Release included the highly controversial “12 Apostles Acreage” that invites exploration in waters just a few kilometers from the iconic 12 Apostles Marine Park on the Great Ocean Road.

The notice was given by Cr Kate Gazzard and seconded by Cr Liz Pattison. All councillors debated the issue with the final vote 7-2.

The Council has agreed to write to current oil and gas operators in the region - including Beach Energy - to communicate its opposition to new oil and gas exploration in the Otway Basin. It will also communicate its position to the Federal Government, Victorian Government, local Registered Aboriginal Parties and other coastal councils across Australia.

Belinda Baggs, co-founder of Surfers for Climate and local Surf Council resident said, “Coastal culture is the foundation of community here on the Surf Coast. We think of the beaches and reefs as our backyard. As passionate ocean users we see it as our responsibility to protect the ocean we love so much.

“The Otway Basin lies just to the west of the Surf Coast Shire. Way too close for comfort. Ask any surfer, once you’re west of Cape Otway the ocean is wild, unpredictable and powerful. Something to be respected and revered- not extracted and industrialised.

"Having council support is a huge step forward in displaying legitimate community opposition. And another reminder that when united in action, us surfers really do make a difference. We still have a long way to go in kicking new oil and gas out of the Otway Basin but we will continue this battle to protect the ocean, waters and climate.”

Jess Lerch, National Corporate Campaigner for the Wilderness Society said, “The Wilderness Society applauds the Surf Coast Council for passing a motion opposing the mindless release of oil and gas acreage. These offshore Otway acreages were released by the Scott Morrison Government without the community’s consent. Unlike the Federal Government, local governments like the Surf Coast Council are actually standing up for and with their communities.

“The Surf Coast community was at the epicentre of the inspiring community paddle outs for our oceans that galvanised the Australian community against frontier oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight,” Jess Lerch concluded.

For more information contact Belinda Baggs on 0475 404 930 or Jess Lerch on 0423 057 828