Steggall Bill should really stop PEP11 threat

The paddle out on April 24 Photos: Surf Rider Australia

Surfing and ocean charities will present a virtual town hall meeting on the Central Coast on Thursday, August 19 in support of a new Stopping PEP11 Bill being proposed by Independent Federal MP Zali Steggall.

The Bill is designed to put a permanent stop to Asset Energy’s petroleum exploration permit (PEP11), which is a 4,500sq/km offshore oil and gas exploration permit extending from Sydney to Port Stephens, with a target area called Baleen Prospect just off the beaches at Lake Munmorah.

The permit came up for renewal in February 2021 but as Federal Member for Shortland, Pat Conroy, says “all we’ve heard since then is crickets”.

“This is despite Mr Pitt (Minister for Water and Resources) – who has the final say on whether the permit will be extended – saying at the time that he’d prefer the decision was made soon,” Conroy said.

“The current licence has been in a rollover period due to Mr Pitt’s inaction meaning exploration can continue while he makes his decision.

pat conroy mp

“It is inexcusable our community has been waiting this long for the Minister to say no PEP11 given the extensive opposition to it. Labor is against it. The community is against it. The NSW Government is against it. Several Federal Liberal MPs are against it. Even the Prime Minister is against it,” Conroy said.

Federal Member for Robertson, Lucy Wicks, said the Prime Minister had already publicly guaranteed the PEP11 permit would not be renewed under his Government.

However, Asset Energy continues preparations to drill Baleen Gas Prospect including booking a semi-submersible drill rig and issuing a Call for Tender for subsea wellhead equipment as the first stage of well construction.

Surfing and ocean community groups have been fighting PEP11 for years and they are baffled that the threat is still there when politicians from all sides are opposed to renewal of the permit.

“Almost every single politician who has commented on this project has opposed it, yet for some reason this absurd proposal is still alive,” said Damien Cole, the National Campaign Director for Surfrider Foundation.

“So, with the announcement of the Stopping PEP11 Bill, now is the perfect time for everyone in our coastal communities to come together, get informed, and get active to make sure we stop this potentially disastrous project once and for all,” Cole said.

Save Our Coast founder, Dr Natasha Deen, said “to drill for fossil fuels with complete disregard for climate, the delicate marine ecosystem, precious marine animals and communities’ wellbeing is simply unconscionable.

“We ask MPs to support the Bill to end this flawed and risky project and cancel PEP11 once and for all,” Deen said.

The virtual Zoom meeting on the Central Coast about the Stopping PEP11 Bill will be held at 11am on Thursday, August 19.

It will outline the economic and environmental threats posed by PEP11 and what can be done to stop it.

Surfrider Foundation Australia, Save Our Coast, Surfers for Climate and Living Ocean Australia have all announced support for the Bill.

High-profile speakers at the Zoom meeting will include Central Coast pro surfer Ace Buchan, Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, Energy Finance Analyst, Bruce Robertson, and Surfrider Foundation National Campaign Director, Damien Cole.

Science communicator, model and star of reality TV show Survivor, Laura Wells, will be MC.

To register for the event, go online to

Sue Murray and Terry Collins