Elliston residents involved in Great Australian Bight symposium in Sydney

Elliston residents Ian and Jay Dudley have returned from a symposium about oil extraction in the southern ocean at the University of Sydney, where panelists have lent expertise to discussions about drilling in the Great Australian Bight.

The April 23 event was hosted by the Sydney Environment Institute where the pair participated as panelists.

"Both my wife and I participated as community members from the region and conveyed some of the concerns and questions many people along our shores have with the idea," Mr Dudley said.

He said his wife initially attended to support him, but due to her experience in Fight for the Bight campaigns in Elliston, was able to engage with the panel members too.

"It was good to have two people with local knowledge there and experience instead of just one," he said.

Other panelists included world experts in engineering, constitutional law, marine science, and the global petroleum and gas industry, including a few people who had worked extensively for BP and Shell during their careers.

"All of them were of the opinion that as it currently stands, from a regulatory, legislative and financial point of view, even before we consider environmental issues, the proposed industrialisation of the Great Australian Bight presents a massive risk to our region and to the nation as a whole," Mr Dudley said.

Mr Dudley said it was an issue relevant to all sections of society, even those that were "cautiously optimistic" about the prospect.

"In terms of sovereign risk and our future food security, it is exponentially greater than the issue of Chinese owned farmland, while the financial loopholes, tax credits and overly generous incentives mean that essentially our government would be paying a foreign power to exploit a resource that would then become the operator's private property," he said.

"Obviously this is my backyard, I've grown up surfing, diving and fishing, my wife's family are from a commercial fishing background, the water here has fed people for 40,000 years or so, and most of my social circle have a connection to the ocean in one way or another, so I feel compelled to help protect that legacy for our kids and their kids."

Mr Dudley said under certain circumstances, he could see there being a sound case for accessing the oil reserves in the Bight but not with Australians along the southern coastline, especially on Eyre Peninsula at risk.

He said he attended as he felt there needed to be at least one representative from the region at the symposium as a representative from the Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association was unable to attend.