“BIG oil can go jump.”
That was the chant of more than 200 people protesting proposed oil and gas drilling in the Great Australian Bight at Port Campbell pier on Sunday afternoon.
Organised by Port Campbell Boardriders Club president Olivia Haig, secretary Paul Bourke and Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth, the protest was a part of the greater ‘Fight for the Bight’ campaign.
The club, along with commercial fishermen, local tourism businesses and general recreation users of the foreshore and pier precinct along with the public all joined forces in their support against the proposals.
As part of the protest, people stood on the pier alongside banners opposing oil for a group photo, before many of them jumped into the ocean.
Ms Haig said the protest went better than expected, adding it was something that had gained traction only recently.
She said the club was “really humbled by the support” given they had modest expectations at the start.
“It was just something that we thought about at the boardriders meetings and we thought it was something we really want to support, we’re really passionate about it,” she said.
“It affects us in so many different ways, you know environmentally, socially, spiritually and economically for everyone in our district.
“So we thought what better way to get some action out there, so we set up a social media campaign to try and get people on board only over the last 10 days.
“The gods were on our side with some good weather and a lot of people around, which helped to have this turnout today (Sunday) of probably well over 200 people I’d say.”
Ms Haig said it was important people understood they were not against oil and gas, but rather drilling for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight.
“We just wanted to make it clear that this movement is specifically directed at the Fight for the Bight campaign,” she said.
“It’s not that Port Campbell is against oil and gas, we’re specifically against drilling for oil and gas in the Great Australian Bight because the area is so remote and so treacherous.
“The risk of there being a catastrophe like what happened in the Gulf of Mexico is just too high and it’s a risk that environmentally we don’t want to take.”
With Sunday’s action captured, the movement will now focus on getting the Corangamite Shire to oppose the proposed drilling.
“Moving forward we’ve got photos and footage which we will get out there to raise awareness as well but it will also help to place some more external pressure on the Corangamite Shire,” Ms Haig said.
“Internally though, our local ward councillor Simon Illingworth will put a motion towards the council at the next council meeting and try to get all the councillors to oppose drilling in the Great Australian Bight.”