Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Community campaign wins permanent #fracking ban in Victoria


Article first published at nofibs.com.au

To ensure it's clean green reputation of it's agricultural sector, and to guarantee the health of rural farming communities Victoria became the first Australian state officially banning fracking. It was motivated by a strong community lead campaign for a ban on gas exploration from 2011.

Legislation was passed in the Victorian Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian parliament, for a permanent legislative ban on fracking. Victoria’s agriculture sector employs more than 190,000 people and relies on it's clean and green reputation.

The legislation was passed without amendment. The Coalition parties and Shooters and Farmers Party sought to amend the legislation regarding the onshore conventional gas exploration moratorium, but were defeated 20 votes to 18. Sex Party MLC Fiona Pattern and Western Region independent MLC James Purcell gave crucial support, along with the Greens, for passage of the bill.


The legislation permanently bans all onshore unconventional gas exploration and development, including hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and coal seam gas, and extends the moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration and development to 30 June 2020.



The extension to the moratorium on conventional gas exploration will allow the Government to carry out a comprehensive program of geo-scientific research and to look and assess the potential risks, benefits and impacts of onshore conventional gas and development. This work will be overseen by Victoria’s lead scientist in consultation with an expert panel made up of farmers, industry, local government and community members.

Members of rural communities and the community campaign watched the final debate in the public gallery of the Legislative Council in Victoria's parliament house. They were after the last vote, ecstatic with the result. This makes Victoria the first Australian state to permanently ban fracking.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne said in a blog post: "This is an amazing day. It is the result of more than five years of hard work and dedication by many thousands of Victorians. 75 regional communities declared themselves gasfield free during this process. By 2012 we had built enough collective power that we were able to stop all development of onshore gas drilling in our state. Today the ban on fracking was made permanent."

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association on Monday May 6 called for the immediate removal of bans and moratoriums on natural gas supply on the east coast, arguing that more gas = lower emissions. They are one party that will not be happy with the ban and moratorium.

Gas has not received good publicity with revelations today in The Guardian from AGL Energy executives that the gas market – not windfarms – was to blame for South Australia's energy reliability woes.

The permanent ban on fracking in Victoria will further embolden community activists in NSW fighting against Santos plans for fracking in the Pillaga region.

In Alice Springs over 250 people gathered for resounding support for a ban on fracking in the Northern Territory reports Lock the Gate. The Territory Labor government is conducting an Inquiry after which the Government would either ban fracking or allow it to proceed in tightly regulated areas.

The afternoon as it unfolded in Victoria's Parliament house via storify: Victoria first Australian state to ban #fracking