Scott Morrison’s decision to halt controversial Asset and Bounty offshore gas field is overturned
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to halt exploration of a controversial gas field off the coast of NSW is set to be overturned after the federal government and two gas companies agreed to end a looming court battle.
The federal government and gas companies Asset Energy and Bounty Oil & Gas are petitioning federal court to terminate the lawsuit, which, if granted, would vacate the Morrison government’s decision.
Asset Energy and Bounty Oil & Gas sued the federal government, alleging that the decision by Morrison, who secretly sworn in as Secretary of Resources, was “infected with actual bias.” The government rejected the claim.
Morrison committed to this portfolio without informing then-Resources Secretary Keith Pitt, who intended to approve the project’s exploration proposal. Asset Energy and Bounty Oil & Gas sought to expand their permit to explore and drill for gas off the coast of NSW in an area stretching from Sydney’s North Head to Newcastle.
The gas exploration area, located no more than 50 kilometers off the NSW coast, is known by its title name Petroleum Exploration Permit 11 or PEP11. Covering a massive 4,574 square kilometers, it runs parallel to the state’s pristine beaches, popular tourist destinations, past some of the country’s most expensive residential real estate and — at the time of Morrison’s decision — a slew of top-tier state voters.
In the book of former political staffer Nikki Savva bulldozersShe wrote that Morrison acquired the portfolio to overrule Pitt after he was pressured by other MPs over the controversial project, including “his girlfriend Lucy Wicks in Robertson and inner-city Liberals.”
Savva said Pitt told her he was considering stepping down after Morrison’s action and that he also spoke with his staff about unilaterally releasing a statement approving PEP11 when Morrison announced he would block it. During his time as Secretary of Resources, Pitt had promoted a gas-based reclamation policy in the Morrison administration.
If the court gives its approval, PEP11 will be a headache for the NSW government weeks ahead of a state election. The NSW government has previously opposed the project, but the federal government is the final decision-maker.
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/scott-morrison-s-decision-to-stop-controversial-nsw-gas-field-to-be-overturned-20230202-p5chk5.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw Scott Morrison’s decision to halt controversial Asset and Bounty offshore gas field is overturned