The Australian Greens say the Federal Government is threatening WA's iconic Abrolhos Islands by releasing acreage for oil and gas exploration that encroaches on the area.
"The Abrolhos Islands are iconic in WA, they are a unique marine environment with many threatened species and are important to WA fishing industries. These low-lying islands would be devastated by an oil spill," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens marine spokesperson said today.
"Looking at the map, you can see that this acreage is right up against a marine protected area and overlaps the special purpose zones. Oil spills don't pay any attention to lines on a map, so the likelihood of a spill impacting on the rock lobster fishery, the sea bird habitats and the reefs is extremely high.
"Information obtained in Estimates earlier this year demonstrated that although the Government claims factors such as environmental impact were considered in the final stages of planning an acreage release, every piece of acreage that was shortlisted was ultimately included in the final release.
"Once again, we see the oil and gas sector pulling the strings of the government. It is unacceptable for the industry to simply nominate areas they want to explore and then for the Minister to turn up and deliver the announcement at their conference.
"Time and again we are seeing acreage released for oil and gas exploration in environmentally sensitive areas, marine environments that are too precious to lose.
"These areas shouldn't be considered for inclusion in acreage release. To be constantly releasing acreage in important areas such as Rowley Shoals, Margaret River, Ningaloo and the Bremer Basin is completely irresponsible.
"The community expect the Government to make the tough calls upfront, rather than letting oil and gas companies start bidding for the right to these areas. Instead the Government is effectively leaving it up to communities to fight for what's precious and prove the likely environmental and economic impacts after industry has gained a toe-hold in the region.
"I will pursue this issue in the coming days in Senate Estimates, and call on the Minister to reject any applications for leases in this region ," Senator Siewert concluded.