The “kingmaker” Sydney MP, Alex Greenwich, and a coalition of independent political hopefuls will attempt to kill the controversial Pep-11 gas exploration licence by banning development of the area through a change in New South Wales law.
The six independents, who could hold the balance of power in under two months, will on Saturday unveil a bill that would amend the State Planning Act to ban certain types of development on land and at sea, negating possible future federal approval.
“It’s remarkable that the federal Labor government would seek to overturn the only good environmental policy of the former Coalition government,” Greenwich said.
“We will do everything we can in NSW to stop this.”
The move will be unveiled after the federal government and Asset Energy agreed to void the former prime minister Scott Morrison’s decision to block further exploration of the gas field, which stretches from Manly to Newcastle, before it played out in court.
On Friday night the state premier, Dominic Perrottet, said he had told Anthony Albanese that his Coalition government remained opposed to the project.
A final decision on the project now rests with a joint federal and state authority.
If re-elected, Greenwich will co-sign the new bill along with any of the five independent candidates who win their seats.
The bill would kill off the plan to drill offshore, regardless of the federal government’s wishes.
Jacqui Scruby, the independent candidate in Pittwater, said her community was “incensed” by the project and would do everything she could to stop it.
“This will be a critical factor in my decision-making should I be in the position to guarantee supply in a minority government,” she said.
Sign up for Guardian Australia’s free morning and afternoon email newsletters for your daily news roundup
Manly candidate Joeline Hackman, Vaucluse candidate Karen Freyer, North Shore candidate Helen Conway and Land Cove candidate Victoria Davidson will also support the bill as they gear up to campaign heavily on climate for the coming six weeks.
“The waters off NSW’s coast are no place for a gas field,” Freyer said.
“I am supporting this bill because my community does not want oil and gas mining off their coastline. It is as simple as that.”skip past newsletter promotion
after newsletter promotion
Davidson said it was a “landmark example of how our politicians are failing to represent their communities”, while Conway said the people of the north shore were telling her it was “time to take a stand and act now to deliver faster action on climate and the protection of our environment”.
The environmental planning and assessment amendment (development for offshore drilling prohibition bill) was developed with outgoing independent MP Justin Field.
In 2021, Morrison announced the federal government would reject a two-year extension of the exploratory drilling licence before it was revealed he had done so by swearing himself in as resources minister to get around the then resource minister Keith Pitt’s plan to extend it.
Asset Energy then launched a federal court challenge in light of the multiple portfolio scandal.
Labor was in fierce opposition to Pep-11 in the lead-up to the federal election.
“We will stop Pep-11 going ahead, full stop. Exclamation mark. No question. Not equivocal. No ifs, no buts,” Albanese said before becoming prime minister.
The state Greens’ environment spokesperson, Sue Higginson, called on the federal and state governments to kill the exploration deal.
“Matt Kean needs to contact the federal resources minister and demand that the decision to end this seismic testing is remade in no uncertain terms so that NSW residents are released from this cycle of bullying by gas corporations,” she said.