On 4 March 2021, the Victorian Parliament voted in favour of enshrining the State’s moratorium on fracking into the Act that supports the State’s constitution.
The Constitution Amendment Bill 2020, which passed the Victorian Upper House on 4 March 2021, fulfils the Andrew government’s 2018 election commitment to “enshrine our legislated ban on fracking in the Constitution of Victoria”.
From 2013 to 2016, we campaigned together with Friends of the Earth and Lock the Gate for a state-wide ban on fracking and unconventional gas drilling. We are delighted finally to see the ban enshrined in the State’s constitution. The outcome is an acknowledgment of a very powerful community campaign against gas – a campaign driven by more than 70 regional communities.
It is a reminder that strategic and determined community campaigning gets results.
EXTRACT FROM PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES
RESOURCES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (FRACKING BAN) BILL 2016
Second reading, Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Ms COUZENS (Geelong) — It is a great pleasure to rise to speak on the very important Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016. I am really proud that I am debating this bill today. I am a bit confused about what the opposition is doing. We keep hearing different approaches to the bill, but we will see.
I want to start by thanking the Minister for Industry and Employment for his tireless work and consultation with the community, along with the Premier of Victoria. I also want to thank and congratulate the local communities who actively campaigned for this ban. As the Premier highlighted, this is a victory for our local communities. In particular I want to put on public record the hardworking commitment of people like Alison Marchant, who is in the gallery today, and all the dedicated people in the Geelong community who have worked hard on this issue for a very long time.
It is people like Alison who help leave positive legacies for our future generations, which is really, really important. Over the last, probably, three or four years I have had the opportunity to speak to many people about their concerns about fracking. It has been really interesting, particularly talking to young people, because young people are much more up to speed with what is going on in our community than we think they might be. Certainly when I was a kid I would never have thought of these issues. They are much more articulate and they have a much better understanding of the issues that are impacting our environment in particular. It has been really heartening, and it has filled me with confidence to talk to the up and coming young people in our community.
I also wanted to share with the chamber a couple of stories that I heard from young men who left Geelong to look for work some years ago and went into the mining industry. They worked in fracking operations in New South Wales and Queensland. I caught up with them not long ago. They actually left that industry because they knew the damage that they were causing for the companies they worked for. They had concerns for their own families and for the future of our community. I thought it was really interesting that they actually left those jobs and came back to Geelong purely out of concern for what fracking was doing to the environment. They had firsthand experience. They had to deal with protesters, particularly in Queensland, which they found very difficult because they knew what they were doing was not right. I wanted to share that story because I think it is important that we do not underestimate what our younger generations are thinking and the concerns that they have about our environment.
There is no doubt that this was a serious issue for people in Geelong and the Geelong region. During the election campaign I was approached many times by many groups and individuals asking what we were going to do about this particular issue, so I am really proud of our local community and the work they have put in. I know it has been hard for them, but they have stuck at it. Our farming communities were concerned, but there was also concern from the community about the great risk to our reputation as a clean, green region. Our farming communities, agriculture, tourism, magnificent beaches, national parks and food and wine trails were all put at risk. Our diverse communities were all getting together and talking about this issue. They came together out of genuine concern. They were concerned about the impact of fracking on farms; the environment, including through water contamination; local industry; and the health and wellbeing of our community.
The people that came together to work on this particular issue formed Frack Free Geelong, Gasfield Free Torquay, Frack Free Grovedale, Frack Free Moriac, frack free Freshwater Creek, No Fracking Birregurra, Gasfield Free Deans Marsh and lots of other local environment groups. They are a diverse group of people from many different backgrounds, industries and political views, but they all had one thing in common — that is, the fight for a ban on fracking. The three local government areas in the Geelong region — the City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast shire and Colac Otway shire — all passed motions in favour of a ban and contributed to the parliamentary inquiries into onshore unconventional gas activity in Victoria.
Sixteen hundred community members, groups, experts and representatives from the resources sector made submissions to the inquiry. When the Honourable David Davis, a member for Southern Metropolitan Region in the Legislative Council, wrecked that process, resulting in four minority reports, the Andrews government went out and spoke to farmers, industry and community groups across our region. I note the comments earlier about the Minister for Resources in particular not getting manure on his boots and all those sorts of ridiculous comments. That sort of statement is just ridiculous. The minister, the Premier and lots of members of Parliament were out there talking to the community about what affected them and what their concerns were, and they were actually listening to the community. And we heard the message. I heard the message, and it was very clear: they did not want to support fracking, they did not support the long term damaging effects of fracking, they did not support the risks to people’s health and wellbeing, they did not support the destruction of our environment and water supply, and they did not support the damage to tourism in our region.
Tourism was another big issue for many people and so many small businesses that rely on tourism had grave concerns about what fracking would do to their industry and their reputation in the community.
I note that the member for South Barwon in his contribution today mentioned that he sent a letter to the Premier. It is good to hear that he is supporting this bill. A number of local groups and individuals have complained recently that he did not return their calls or respond to their requests for him to outline what his position was on the ban and how he would respond to this bill, but I am pleased to hear today that he is actually supporting the bill. These groups are certainly not happy with the member for Polwarth, the member for South West Coast or a member for Western Victoria Region in the Legislative Council, Simon Ramsay, who have never responded to their requests to have a discussion about fracking. Fracking would impact on all of these seats, but these members did not listen. They were not interested in listening.
The federal member for Corangamite has also been silent. She has provided no support, nor has she listened to her local community on this issue.
Ms Thomas — We know where she stands now.
Ms COUZENS — Yes, we do. This is not surprising given the commentary that is coming out of the federal Liberal government. In fact the federal Minister for the Environment and Energy has been highly critical of the ban, calling it disappointing. The federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, a Nationals member, echoed those comments. Then of course there were the Prime Minister’s comments yesterday, and I quote:
There they are, with this ideological, left approach that the Labor Party adopt, sitting on all of this gas and they are not prepared to touch it.
This is about them hiding the truth and their game of trickery. They do not want anyone to notice that the leap in gas prices is because of their longstanding federal policy. Those opposite cannot be trusted to continue a ban on fracking. Their masters in Canberra will have them change their tune down the track. This is a very real risk given that the community have strongly advocated for this ban. The state and federal Liberals have not listened to them at all.
I am really pleased to be speaking on this bill today. I am so proud of our local communities right across the Geelong region who have put in probably more than four years of hard yards and lobbying to see this bill come to fruition. I congratulate them. I congratulate the ministers involved and the Premier for the hard work they have done. I commend the bill to the house.
Victoria’s gas ban a win for environment, farmers and democracy
Today the Lower House of the Victorian parliament is debating the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016, which will permanently ban fracking in the state.
This debate is unusual, because the ALP, Greens, Coalition and minor parties have all announced their support for the ban. “This highlights the massive community opposition to onshore gas drilling in Victoria” said Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Cam Walker.
“This ban has been delivered because of an inspiring and determined community campaign. Over a period of five years, 75 regional communities declared themselves gasfield free. Regional communities refused to accept this destructive industry. Sustained opposition forced the main political parties to shift their position, and led to a state inquiry, which in turn delivered the ban commitment.”
“The Greens supported the ban from day one of this campaign. The ALP held the state inquiry and introduced the legislation. We must acknowledge the leadership of Minister Lily D’Ambrosio on this issue while the ALP was in opposition, the hard work of the Minister for Resources Wade Noonan, and the willingness of the Premier, Daniel Andrews, to listen to the community. A range of MPs from The Greens, ALP, Coalition and Shooters Party put in a huge effort during the state inquiry. And of course this outcome has only happened because of determined, sustained and strategic campaigning by many thousands of people and the 75 gasfield free communities who were the backbone of the opposition to fracking” said Mr Walker.
“This is a wonderful victory for the community, for farmers and the climate. In a time where there is ever greater cynicism about party politics, this shows what is possible when ordinary people get organised and work together for the greater good.”
“It’s an incredible day for so many communities like ours across the state, we have all worked so hard together to get to this point and it feels amazing” said Gayle Margaret, Mirboo North resident.
“Today’s history making legislation to ban unconventional gas and fracking secures my grandchildrens clean, green future in this state and l couldn’t be happier,” said Trevor Jennings, Geelong resident.
“We hope this permanent ban – the first one in Australia – will provide inspiration to other Australian states and territories who are fighting the same battle” said Mr Walker.
Cam Walker, Campaigns co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth
30 August 2016: In a national first, the Andrews Labor Government today announced a permanent ban on the exploration and development of all onshore unconventional gas in Victoria, including hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and coal seam gas.
The permanent legislative ban, to be introduced to Parliament later this year, will protect the ‘clean, green’ reputation of Victoria’s agriculture sector, which employs more than 190,000 people. This will provide much-needed certainty to regional communities.
Minister for Resources Wade Noonan confirmed it was visiting communities and seeing the huge impact fracking was having and the potential destruction of agriculture that confirmed for them only a total ban was appropriate. He also said a moratorium on conventional gas would allow proper scientific studies on the potential risks, in particular water pollution risks.
The announcement went global and actors like Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon tweeted about the ban.
We got ourselves organised
This didn’t just happen. This is the result of a tireless effort of hundreds of anti-fracking activists working with determination and as a team. Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth Melbourne wrote: “This outcome happened because ordinary people across the state got themselves organised – and stayed organised. The 75 gasfield free communities were the cornerstone of this campaign.”
So first of all a big thank you to everyone in Geelong and in Victoria who supported the anti-fracking campaign!
It is a great example of how we, the people, the ordinary citizens, can make change and create a better, safer and cleaner world – even at times when we are up against powerful industries that really couldn’t care less about anything else than their own profits.
Thinking the unthinkable
This decision announced today gives hope for many more good things to come. It still won’t happen without us stepping in, though.
If four years ago we hadn’t ‘thought the unthinkable’, things would never have come to this. We would not have seen this fantastic outcome if a group of determined residents had not got themselves organised – and stayed organised.
So it is time for Geelong region to get into thinking some more ‘unthinkable’ thoughts now, like for instance:
• Unthinkable thought #2: Geelong region powered by 100% renewable energy.
• Unthinkable thought #3: All local councils signed onto AND actively following One Planet Living principles.
Ten days after Daniel Andrews had announced Victoria’s policy — a first for any Australian state government — he travelled to Moriac, in the South Barwon electorate, to commend those who lobbied for the ban.
Please make an effort to thank Premier Daniel Andrews and Resources Minister Wade Noonan for making this forward thinking and environment protecting decision enacting the ban. For instance, you could retweet Friends of the Earth’s tweet:
11 minute live phone interview with Alison Marchant, Frack Free Moriac, about the new permanent fracking ban in Victoria
“What a day! Victoria is now frack free! It has been a long 3 & a bit years. At the start when we learnt about fracking, we discussed moving. But decided to stay and fight. Sometimes it felt like the world was against us. Sleepless nights and a few tears. But my faith has been restored today. Community banded together and our ripple turned into a wave. Then it was up to convincing the right decision makers. Some more receptive than others. Some listened and some pretended to listen. These MP’s made a stand. They didn’t sit on the barb wire fence.
In addition I haven’t done this alone, family and friends (new and old) have supported me all the way. Damien Marchant speech writer Nomore Coalorgas my partner in crime. Cam Walker ninja! Kristin Morris cheerleader and now tweeter! Sammi Penning and Ian my go-to rocks! And all gasfield free community go-getters. Ursula G Alquier gippsland warrior.
I may be a bit philosophical tonight, but today was momentous. I can now tell the kids, I gave it all, stay and fight for what is right. #vicgasban” Alison Marchant
Alison Marchant’s husband, Damien Marchant wrote on his Facebook page:
“Hi all, I guess I’m feeling a little reflective at the moment.
As you all know Ali and I have been involved in the anti fracking campaign for about 4 years and abit over a week ago we won.
From that the greatest thing that I have taken out this is the importance of community.
Community gives us all a sense of belonging and inclusion. It gives power to our voice, strength to our arguments and most importantly it provides support to each other and assistance to those who need it. I feel honoured and proud to be part of our strong community.
I am also extremely humbled to be married to such a remarkable woman and community builder, Alison Marchant. To tell you I love you never seems to even scratch the surface of my emotions for you, thankyou for being you. Whoever knows you cannot help but love you.”
“This is a testament to the power of determined, creative, respectful community-driven activism. Years of it. Stand down tireless warriors Chloe, Ursula G Alquier, Cam Walker, Nicola Paris, Quit Coal crew and the countless numbers of people in threatened communities who stood up to insidious industry pressure. What a fully shining example you’ve set for a powerfully growing global movement.” Deborah Hart
Speeches in the Victorian Parliament can be found from page 41 of Hansard and then again from page 69.
Good to have a read through and to send messages of thanks to those who spoke in its favour!
The Premier’s address on 8 February 2017:
“I am delighted to rise to speak on this important piece of legislation today. I could not be prouder than to lead a government that is putting before this house and indeed the other place — this Parliament — a law to protect our clean, green image, a law to protect our primary producers, our farmers, our exporters, a law to protect our good name and good standing in international markets right across the world, a law to protect jobs, investment and confidence.
But today is not a day for the politicians to be taking credit, although I am sure some opposite will tell you that they were the architects of this bill, that all good things can be traced back to those opposite if only you spend long enough doing that tracing. This is not a day for politicians to be taking credit. This victory — and that is what it is — is a victory for common sense. It is a victory for jobs right throughout Victoria. It is a victory for farmers, for environmentalists, for activists, for ordinary Victorians. It is their victory because they said, ‘We will not stand for being ignored any longer. We want what we value protected. We want what every Victorian should value protected, and we want our voice heard’, and that is exactly what we delivered.
Whether it be farmers and environmentalists from the Otways, from Gippsland, from every part of our state, and not just from regional Victoria— as beautiful and important as regional Victoria is to the soul of our state, the production and economy of our state, our story and our meaning and purpose for the future— many people in metropolitan Melbourne have been just as passionate about these issues.
What they have said to me and what my government has said is that there is no splitting the environment and the economy when it comes to these issues. There is no splitting those two things because they are the same thing, and if you are prepared to compromise safety, certainty, our image, the health of our communities, the health of our natural environment, then you will pay a very significant economic price. It is not one that I am prepared to pay. It is not one that regional communities are prepared to pay. It is not one that this government is prepared to pay.
Others have a different view, and when they take a break from trying to claim credit for things they had nothing to do with, they turn around and start bagging those very same things they pretend to have actually delivered. That is not leadership; that is fraud. That is what that is. It is fraud, but the problem for those who operate in that way is that it is all too obvious. Chief among that list are people who would say they are great listeners, they are great people who support primary production, who support the environment, people who used to get around with a leather jacket on, used to get around with a conscience, used to get around with a ‘Don’t you know, you’d better watch out for me, because I’m right in the middle and I’m going to deal with all the truisms of politics. I can bring appeal from everywhere’. That thesis is not going so well at the moment.
Chief among those who just do not get it on this issue are the Prime Minister and his energy minister, Mr Frydenberg, because they are out there today saying that this legislation to ban unconventional gas extraction for all of our state now and forever is somehow wrong and that we should be ashamed of ourselves, that it is the wrong thing to do.
I will say to all members assembled here and for Hansard for all time that if anyone in the coalition, state or federal, is in any doubt about the community’s views on this issue, I am happy to take them to one farm after another, to one community after another, to one family after another, and hopefully they will hear the message that I have heard — that is, that this precious environment, our precious economy, all that we should cherish and hold dear are not worth gambling with. They are not worth risking, and they are certainly not worth trashing by putting up dangerous wells wherever you can see.
We are having none of that. We are having none of that in our state, and some can sit smugly thinking that they can walk both sides of the street on this issue.
No, you cannot. There might be some who will have three positions. They will say it was their work, when of course it was not. They will bag it simultaneously, and then they will cleverly just wave it through the Parliament thinking that will allow their rampant hypocrisy to go unnoticed.
Well, no, I am afraid we are onto you, and so is the community. The fact of the matter in the history of this state, once this bill passes this place and the other, is that it is a Labor government that has delivered this outcome, a Labor government that has listened to communities and a Labor government that proudly says, ‘Do not take your time to thank us’. No, thank the communities who have fought for this outcome. Thank the communities who said, ‘We will be ignored no longer. A moratorium? Not good enough. We want certainty. We deserve it, and we want a government that will deliver that’.
They are the people that should be congratulated. They are the people who should be so very proud as they listen to this debate today and in the days to come.
I want to thank my honourable friends the Minister for Industry and Employment and Minister for Resources, and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change — the first time we have ever seen those portfolios combined, and what a great job she is doing in relation to those matters— and every member of our team that has made sure they played their part as champions for their local community and in making sure that I understood.
Little did they know that I was getting plenty of representations from lots of good people without the representations they were making, but everyone did their job to make sure that we understood that this was a change that had to be made.
Too much was at stake to allow this to go on, and I just say thank you to everybody in the government for the work that they have done and to the department. The consultations have been unprecedented.
Again, he is not here to defend himself, but I will make the point that we did not go and get a certain former federal minister, not well known for consultation, to go out and run a sham consultation. We did it properly. We did not get Balaclava Pete to come out and do the sort of consultation that only he could do. We did not do that” Daniel Andrews
Mr M.O’Brien interjected.
Mr ANDREWS — “Well, are you for this or against it? That is a question for you.”
Honourable members interjecting.
The SPEAKER — “Order! Government members will come to order.”
Mr ANDREWS — “Are you for it or against it? That is the question for you, my friend. You can keep interjecting all you want, but my microphone is on and yours is not, so keep it up.”
“The question for you is: are you for this or against it, or are you sitting there pretty well on your own as you are?”
Mr M.O’Brien interjected.
Mr ANDREWS — “There will be a vote, will there? There will be a vote apparently. I sincerely hope so.”
Honourable members interjecting.
The SPEAKER — “Order! Government members will come to order, and the Premier will continue through the Chair.”
Mr ANDREWS — “If there is a vote, we will be able to see who is actually for and against protecting our environment, who is for and against protecting our economy and who is for and against listening to our communities and acting in their interest and who, quite frankly, is all over the shop and a disgrace. We will be able to see that. There are no members of the National Party here.”
Mr McGuire interjected.
The SPEAKER — “Order! The member for Broadmeadows will resume his seat.”
Mr ANDREWS — “Interesting. Others can judge those who are serious about these matters and those who are frankly frauds when it comes these matters. I will leave it to the good judgement particularly of regional Victorians. They can pick someone who might qualify as a fraud a long way off. I can tell you that. I think it is fair to say they see those opposite coming. The final point… ”
Mr M.O’Brien interjected.
The SPEAKER— Order! The member for Malvern will come to order.
Mr ANDREWS — “‘Sunshine’, he is calling me. Mate, there would be no sunshine if it was up to you. Heaven knows where we would be. I am very proud to have you interject on me. I am very proud to have the member for Malvern opposed to me, because I reckon if the member for Malvern is against it, it is probably a good thing. They do not come any better than this bill, and I urge all members to support its urgent passage.”
The bill is expected to pass unamended.
Media release from Victorian recourse minister Wade Noonan on 31 August 2016:
LIBERALS AND NATIONALS ALL OVER THE PLACE ON FRACKING After years of Coalition inaction, indecision and infighting on onshore gas in Victoria, the deep split between the Liberals and the Nationals is once again on show following yesterday’s historic announcement by the Andrews Labor Government.
In a national first, the Labor Government is introducing a permanent ban on the exploration and development of all onshore unconventional gas in Victoria to provide much needed certainty for regional communities.
The Liberals were quick off the mark to criticise the announcement for “shutting the door on future exploration of conventional gas,” despite their previous policy of a moratorium until 2020.
That’s a clear sign the Liberals are making policy on the run and renouncing their own policies.
Meanwhile, in a short statement not published online, the Nationals leader Peter Walsh was busy trying to claim credit: “Daniel Andrews has followed The Nationals’ lead in announcing a permanent ban on unconventional gas, including fracking and CSG activity, in Victoria.”
In fact, the Nationals had signed up to the 2020 moratorium, not a ban on fracking.
These conflicting statements speak volumes about the deep divide between the Nationals and the Liberals on one of the biggest issues affecting regional Victoria.
Will the Nationals stand up for country Victoria, or will they support the Liberals calls for more uncertainty, indecision and inaction?
It is clear that the Victorian community has spoken – they simply don’t support fracking.
The Labor Government is calling on the Nationals to stand up for country Victoria and declare their support for legislation that will be introduced into Parliament later this year.”
Senator Glen Lazarus has successfully campaigned for an establishment of a Senate Select Committee to inquire into the impact of Unconventional Gas mining in Australia, after his shock in visiting communities affected by gasfield developments in southern Queensland.
He is taking submissions just like the Victorian inquiry did and will hold hearing across the country, including Victoria.
It is also being referred to as the “Bender Inquiry’ out of respects for George Bender, a Queensland farmer who lost his fight against CSG companies.
Please take the time to make a submission.
The fact that the Victoria inquiry received over 1,700 submissions clearly demonstrated that communities are concerned and stand firm that there is no social licence for industry to operate.
You can submit a copy of your Victorian one or write a new submission, but either way your voice counts!
On 8 December 2015 the Inquiry Committee into Onshore Unconventional Gas tabled its Final Report in the Victorian parliament. This long awaited report will be used by the Labor Government to make a decision about the future of onshore and unconventional gas mining in Victoria.
“The report at no time recommends a lifting of the current moratorium and several additional minority reports recommend the Labor Government support a ban.
Over 70 gasfield free communities across Victoria are calling on the Andrews Government to focus on the recommendation made by Labor MPs Shaun Leane and Harriet Shing, Greens MP Samantha Dunn and Fishers & Shooters MP Daniel Young, who are calling for a permanent ban.
In minority reports, they clearly stated that this industry, if allowed to go ahead threatened the agriculture industry, without any guarantees that water, the environment and communities will be protected.”
The ALP chose an Upper House committee to run the inquiry, meaning that there were MPs from the ALP, Coalition, Greens and Shooters Party. The subsequent inquiry received more submissions than any environment inquiry in Victoria’s history (more than 1800), and at the public hearings, the committee heard compelling evidence about the dangers posed by this industry.
But the cross-party MPs remain divided on the issue of what to do about the moratorium on unconventional gas. Instead, the committee channeled their inner Tom Cruise and the final report included four minority reports from all but one of the voting MPs.
The Coalition MPs called for a five-year ban. Sadly, their report is party political, focusing more on attacking the government than listening to the community. Basically they recommend extending the moratorium for another 5 years to examine the regulatory systems that exist interstate/overseas to know how to go ahead in Victoria. They seem quite opposed to a permanent ban.
State Labor Government MPs Shaun Leane and Harriet Shing called for a permanent ban on unconventional gas, as did Greens MP Samantha Dunn. Samantha said that, based on the evidence received during the inquiry, UCG posed ‘an unacceptable threat to Victoria’s farmland and communities which cannot be mitigated through regulation.’ The Shooters and Fishers MP, Daniel Young, also supported a permanent ban.
The majority ALP report was actually great: “The Inquiry was presented with overwhelming evidence that Victoria’s regional communities, particularly those in the Otway and Gippsland Basins, have refused to grant any substantive form of “social licence” that might enable onshore unconventional gas exploration or extraction to take place. It is clear that community opposition to any (further) onshore unconventional industry growth or development in Victoria has grown exponentially over time.
“In fact, the evidence indicated that the actual and/or perceived risks of an unconventional gas exploration or extraction are, for an overwhelming majority of communities in regional Victoria, too great to enable exploration or extraction of onshore unconventional gas in the terms proposed by industry”.
They suggest that the funding and resourcing needed to properly manage an UCG industry would be better spent on developing renewable energy.
A fourth report, provided by Government MP Adem Somyurek, called for a three-year moratorium on fracking, but suggested conventional drilling be permitted for onshore gas resources. He wants the government to support drilling for conventional gas immediately. He suggests it is important to “allow conventional non-fracking gas exploration” along with a reservation policy. He wants conventional gas to be taken out of the moratorium. He even quotes the very discredited Peter Reith! Bear in mind that Mr Somyurek only bothered to show up at one of the public hearings!
Overall, it is very optimistic that unconventional gas will not be allowed to go ahead immediately in Victoria. However, what’s not clear is whether the Victorian state Labor Government will commit to a total ban or just push through a five year extension of the moratorium.
It will be tempting for the Government to put the decision off to be someone else’s problem in five years. But that would make this the community’s problem: a huge burden on every farmer trying to plan their future; a source of continual stress and uncertainty for regional communities; a fight we must continue over half a decade.
So, we must make it clear to the Government: Only a ban will do.
With the Parliamentary Committee reported, the decision is now with Premier Daniel Andrews. For the next two to four months, we must make sure he hears our voices at every opportunity. We can start today.
Below is a copy of an email Alan Manson from Frack Free Grovedale sent to Premier Daniel Andrews:
On behalf of our members, I would like to thank you for arranging the Parliamentary Inquiry Into Onshore Unconventional Gas in Victoria that provided many Victorians and the UG industry a forum in which to present the facts about Unconventional Gas (UG) through the report recently tabled in the Victorian Parliament.
We also want to thank you for your tweeted comments sent to Alison Marchant recently, saying:
“We support a moratorium until the science is clear and community support exists…”
Our members have noted in the report, the following statements that relate to your comments:
“Social Licence: The Inquiry was presented with overwhelming evidence that Victoria’s regional communities, particularly those in the Otway and Gippsland Basins, have refused to grant any substantive form of “social licence” that might enable onshore unconventional gas exploration or extraction to take place. It is clear that community opposition to any (further) onshore unconventional industry growth or development in Victoria has grown exponentially over time.”
“Alternative Energy Resources: On this basis [of massively funding the structure needed to regulate any future UG mining industry], it is our view that funding and resources that might otherwise be unconventional gas would simply delay the making of a further decision about allocated to undertaking this further work are more appropriately directed to the potential for an onshore unconventional gas industry, and enable these investment in the certain, predictable and long-term benefits of renewable energy initiatives, a number of which are already the subject of investments by the Andrews Government.”
As the Liberal / National coalition remain wishy-washy about having an Unconventional Gas industry in Victoria or not; our members would like you to know that we fully endorse all of Harriet Shing and Shaun Leane’s Minority Report comments; and we sincerely hope that you will place a permanent ban on the UG industry in Victoria and then support the development of a renewable energy industry.
As there are many long-established agricultural and tourism industries that would be decimated if a UG industry was permitted into Victoria, your party’s support for a renewable energy industry would be consistent with the recommendations in the report and with the policies of your government.
Our members are looking forward to learning about your government’s decision regarding these matters in the New Year.
Many thanks again Premier Andrews, and kind regards,
Frack Free Grovedale
Chloe Aldenhoven and Alison Marchan from Western Vic community campaigners wrote:
“It’s been a very busy year, with many of you contributing written submissions to the inquiry, attending hearings or rally’s and community events. It should be noted that your voices have been heard loud and clear.
The final report of the Unconventional gas inquiry will now be used by the Labor Government to make their final decision on Unconventional gas.
In a quick summary, the final report saw several minority reports written and the committee split. Four committee members (Labor MP Shaun Leane, Labor MP Harriet Shing, Greens MP Samantha Dunn and Shooters & Fisher Party MP Daniel Young) called for a ban on Unconventional gas. The other committee members (Liberal MP David Davis, Liberal MP Richard Dall-Riva and Nationals Melina Bath) called for an extension of the current 5 Year moratorium for all onshore gas. The committee also made 15 recommendations IF the industry was allowed to go ahead.
The report although heavily debated in parliament documented all the concerns that communities have had over the past year.Early next year the Labor government will need to make a decision, probably on a whole gas policy for Victoria, encompassing unconventional gas. The government will also need to decide whether to lift the current ban on conventional gas drilling. It is quite likely we will need to deal with this issue, so it would be worthwhile discussing your groups position about onshore conventional gas drilling.
There are a couple of important things you can do now to send make sure our message is heard, that only a total ban on unconventional & onshore gas mining will do.
1. Thank Harriet Shing, Shaun Leane (ALP) and Samantha Dunn (Greens) and Daniel Young (Shooters and Fishers) for their leadership on the issue. Tell them you support a ban and that the community appreciates their leadership.
We have made it very clear to the inquiry that communities will never give social licence for this industry as we have have serious concerns with the risks unconventional gas mining poses to our farmland, water, jobs & health of our communities. Across Victoria people like you are protecting their towns from gasfields. This includes conventional gas mining if it threatens our water, air, agriculture, environment, health and cultural heritage.
So once again, we thank you, for all your ongoing support to keep Victoria Gasfield Free.
Regarding Lock the Gate’s position on mining operations, their position is this.
Irresponsible Mining: They are opposed to all coal and gas mining that is regarded as irresponsible and invasive. So this definitely covers Unconventional Gas.
Conventional Gas Mining: When it comes to Conventional Gas, Lock the Gate take each project on the case by case basis. For example, one area that is ear marked for Conventional may include ‘unsafe irresponsible’ practices; so therefore, it would not be supported.
Unconventional Gas in Victoria: As for gasfield free groups here in Vic, we are asking for a total ban on Unconventional Gas. When it comes to Conventional Gas mining we have some concerns; namely:
There is no evidence of Conventional Gas pockets discovered onshore in Victoria; so are companies using this to get their foot in the door? Probably!
The issue of land access and of being taken to VCAT for farmers is still the same.
Regulatory systems are not in place (Auditor Generals report).
If Conventional Gas operations are likely to threaten our water, land, agriculture, air and environment, it would not be supported. It is still the same things we are trying to protect from Unconventional.
We hope you have an enjoyable festive season and a safe New Year. We are very much looking forward (along with your help) to making 2016 the year Victoria officially becomes a gasfield free state.
To stay up to date (over the holidays) with upcoming events and how you can help us keep Victoria gasfield free, check out our website at: www.coalandgasfreevic.org
Victoria can be the first state in Australia to put in place a total ban on all unconventional gas mining. It is up to us.
Take part in the ‘Farmers & Friends Against Fracking’ rally in Melbourne on Sunday 20 September 2015.
This will be great opportunity to bring our message to the city that gasfields will never be welcome in Victoria.
You are invited to the largest declaration in Australia! We need thousands to take to the streets in Melbourne, to declare Victoria Gasfield Free.
The idea of the Unconventional Gas industry being forced upon communities has seen a widespread movement. Over 60 Victorian communities have celebrated, declaring their towns ‘gasfield free’, so we need you on September 20th. You may live in a declared area, which you can walk with your community, or you may live in another beautiful part of Victoria, either way, your attendance makes a difference!
By walking united to Parliament house, we will be sending a clear message that the Unconventional Gas industry in not welcome in Victoria.
We will start at 12pm at the State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, and walk to Parliament House at Spring Street. Afterwards you are welcome to ‘picnic’ in the Treasury Gardens.
Please join us, to celebrate where we live, and to keep Victoria Gasfield Free.
“From country to city, we come together to protect our land, our water and our health from unconventional gas. Help us send a clear message that fracking and gasfields will never be welcome in Victoria.”
An article published in The Australian on 12 August 2015 under the headline ‘MPs to cede to gas ban activists’, and with the subtitle: ‘A deluge of “Lock the Gate”-style anti-exploration submissions to a parliamentary committee appear to have crushed the chances of Victoria establishing its own onshore gas industry in the short term.’ …would indicate that we are on the right track towards a total ban.
Thank you so much to all of you that put in submissions to the inquiry commission. They received a total of 1,600 submissions, most of which can be read on the website here: www.parliament.vic.gov.au/epc/article/2636
ARCHIVED | FROM 20 JULY 2015: The Parliamentary Inquiry into Unconventional Gas in Victoria is holding a public hearing on 22 July at Parliament House in Melbourne. See below for details.
If you care to attend, your presence would help our numbers impact the hearing.
Media release from www.parliament.vic.gov.au/epc:
Public hearing into unconventional gas
On Wednesday 22 July, a Victorian parliamentary committee is holding a public hearing in Melbourne in relation to the inquiry into unconventional gas in Victoria. The Committee is examining the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of onshore unconventional gas development.
Chair of the Victorian Parliament’s Environment and Planning Committee, Hon David Davis, said “the inquiry is an opportunity for Victorian communities to have input into the Committee’s terms of reference”.
“The Committee has received many submissions to date from individuals, organisations and governments.
“The Committee has previously held two days of hearings and will continue to seek community input as the inquiry progresses. This hearing in Melbourne will be an opportunity for the Committee to receive evidence from expert witnesses and peak bodies.”
WHAT: Public hearing into onshore unconventional gas
WHEN: Wednesday, 22 July 2015 from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm
WHERE: Legislative Council Committee Room, Parliament House, Melbourne
WHO: Environment and Planning Committee will conduct the hearing with the following schedule:
10:00 am Melbourne Energy Institute, University of Melbourne
10:45 am Prof Peter Cook
11:30 am Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning
12:30 pm Victorian Farmers Federation
1:15 pm Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA)
2:00 pm Dr Matthew Currell, RMIT University, Hydrogeology and Environmental Engineering
You have until this Friday afternoon 10 July 2015 to get a submission in.
This is the best chance we will ever have to knock this toxic industry off before it gets a foothold in our state. Please write a brief submission by close of business Friday. A short letter is all that is required.
Below are some suggestions on how to write a submission to the Victorian Government’s Unconventional Gas Mining Inquiry
Tips are in red font colour. Terms of Reference are in black
By Cam, Friends of the Earth, and Alison, Frack Free Moriac
Submission Tip Sheet
Start by introducing yourself (a little bit about who you are/ where you live / what you do for a living / why you’re concerned about unconventional gas mining)
Make it clear in your opening statement that you do not support any form of unconventional gas mining (including coal seam gas, tight gas, shale gas and underground coal gasification)
If you live in a community that has conducted a survey, mention these results and that you and your community have removed the social licence for this industry to operate in your area and that you will never support it, no matter the potential regulations put in place.
When writing a submission it would be best to address all (of the following) terms of reference, but you can add/ remove the issues that matter to you.
(ADD – That’s right, if the terms of reference do not cover all the issues you want to talk about, then add them in, this is allowed and will strengthen your submission)
Don’t forget to recommend that Victoria ban all unconventional gas drilling permanently (and the benefits of a total ban eg. giving certainty to existing industry (agriculture & tourism), making Victoria a more attractive place for investments in these industries plus new investments such as renewables. Which will create more long term jobs in sustainable industries.
The prospectivity of Victoria’s geology for commercial sources of onshore unconventional gas.
Talk about why we would put at risk water, farmland, community health, food security, environment and jobs in other sectors such as agriculture & tourism for little or no financial gain.
The environmental, land productivity and public health risks, risk mitigations and residual risks of onshore unconventional gas activities.
We can allgo to town in this section, make references to peer reviewed studies if you like or the experiences of those in the US and Queensland and that the impacts felt in QLD will be even worse here due to our more densely populated region.
The coexistence of onshore unconventional gas activities with existing land and water uses
A key issue relating to this industry is the question of its likely impacts on agricultural production and domestic and export market requirements.
Use figures from local council and government websites to show what our existing industries (agriculture in particular) are worth to the states economy and the potential for growth here and why that cannot happen if unconventional gas mining goes ahead.
If you’re a farmer talk about how the infrastructure required for gas wells (all weather access roads, cleared well pads, compression stations, evaporation dams) would make the day to day running of your farm unviable.
Agricultural production and domestic and export market requirements
If you are a farmer, food producer or work in the agriculture industry please answer point (a) in as much detail as possible.
The legal rights of property owners and the impact on property values; and
Any implications for local and regional development, investment and jobs
Point (c) is very important and something that we can all answer as we will all be impacted. Also the state labor government say they are a ‘jobs’ government so we need to show them and give them examples of why UCG will not create jobs but put at
risk jobs in other sectors.
The ability of potential onshore unconventional gas resources contributing to the State’s overall energy sources
Unconventional gas is a fossil fuel. By definition, unconventional gases are harder to extract than conventional gas.
an ability to provide a competitive source of energy and non energy inputs for Victorian industries
An affordable energy source for domestic consumers
Because they need to be fracked to release the gas from the coal seam or rock, the energy cost of the gas is high compared with conventional LNG. Additionally, with the government plans to export massive volumes of gas through ports in QLD, Victorian consumers will be competing with international energy prices in
coming year. So UCG is unlikely to be an affordable energy source for consumers. A much better option is to look at ways we can reduce our need to use gas (for instance through ensuring better energy efficiency standards in new homes and a government funded energy efficiency retrofit program for existing houses etc
Carbon dioxide emissions from these sources;
Use examples of emissions and fugitive emissions from UCG comparing these to renewable energy sources. Air pollution from gas treatment plants is also important to mention and it’s human health impacts.
The resource knowledge requirements and policy and regulatory safeguards that would be necessary to enable exploration and development of onshore unconventional gas resources
Give examples of why this industry (regardless of regulation) has failed to be proven safe elsewhere. Put forward that the industry has had a long time to prove that their practices are safe and yet have been unable to do so. Talk about why the industry, however much it can reduce it’s risks by regulation will always pose a rick and any risk is too great.
Further scientific work to inform the effective regulation of an onshore unconventional gas industry, including the role of industry and government, particularly in relation to rigorous monitoring and enforcement, and the effectiveness of impact mitigation responses; and
Performance standards for managing environmental and health risks, including water quality, air quality, chemical use, waste disposal, land contamination and geotechnical stability;
Relevant domestic and international reviews and inquiries covering the management of risks for similar industries including, but not limited to, the Victorian Auditor-General Office’s report Unconventional Gas: Managing Risks and Impacts
(contingent upon this report being presented to Parliament) and other reports generated by the Victorian community and stakeholder engagement programs.
Written submissions can be sent via post to:
Keir Delaney, Secretary, Environment & Planning Committee Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne VIC 3002
Closing date for submissions: Friday 10 July 2015.
Examples for inspiration
» Click here to download six examples of submissions, for your inspiration.
They were compiled by Frack Free Moriac, who wrote: “You are welcome to use the attached submissions, you’ll just have to put your name and address at the bottom, before sending. The submissions can be personal, how you feel about this industry. It can be technical, quoting research, or just concerns you have. You may like to edit some of the attached submission, to suit you.”
» Click here for a tip sheet which Friends of the Earth have put together (which includes how to lodge the submission), a draft submission from Cam Walker (this is to be used as a guideline, do not copy-paste) from Friends of the Earth, and an email from Ali from the Frack Free Moriac group – for your inspiration.
» Click here for an easy submissions format by Ellen Sandell.
It is important that the submission is in your own words.
Every submission against the industry will help – and shows the Government how many VOTES are at stake here. It only needs to be short and from the heart.
CSG is a hit and ruyn assault on families, communities and agricultural land. CSG is the asbestos of our time.
• local children have near universal and sever skin irritations and asthma which worsens with proximity to the gas fields. Severe and recurrent nosebleeds are common.
• Severe neurological effects: McCarron found one third of children at Tara had parasthesia (abnormal sensations and numbness) and some had “abnormal movements” (central nervous damage).
• Severe effects on the unborn: US studies have shown 100% increase in neural tube defects and 30% increase in congenital hear defects. Other studies have shown under we
• Huge increase in particulates which are class one carcinogens
• Wide range of toxic chemicals which show levels 10-100x above safe levels
• Existing health reports have suffered from poor methodology such as being based on affected people volunteering information only or intermittent testing which was discontinued, and are also hampered by the confidentiality agreements
• release of very potent green house gases including methane, that nullify any GHG saving associated with the transition from coal to gas
• unconventional gas extraction uses masses of water, draining our scarce water resources
• aquifer contamination with toxic chemicals
• release of naturally occurring BTEX compounds and other contaminates into the atmosphere and into groundwater
• “produced water” is left in ponds that will inevitably leak or spill or sprayed on local roads
• multiple earthquakes are associated with fracking and csg globally
• toxic acid rain which strops paint off cars (Ph 4.36 McCarron)
• failure rates of gas wells increase each year
• contamination of water (flammable water) with toxic chemicals, leading to poisoning of livestock and contamination of our high quality agricultural industry products
• increase in groundwater and soil salinity
• depletion of groundwater
• contamination of water (flammable water) with toxic chemicals
• immediate community impacts include division and mistrust, then falling property values as the industrial process occurs and health impacts start to bite, agriculture being impacted, followed by families being bought out under confidentiality agreements, and communities being closed or relocated.
• unconventional gas extraction has near universal local disapproval, is strongly resisted, and proceeding is against communities self determination
We need jobs but not ones which poison our children and destroy our future.
Alan Manson from Frack Free Grovedale sent the following letter to the Geelong Mayor and Councillors, asking whether City of Greater Geelong – now that the chamber unanimously has made a formal decision to reject fracking and call for a permanent ban on onshore gas extraction in the region – will be following up on this and submit an offical request for a permanent ban to state council before the government’s inquiry submission closing date on 10 July 2015.
Alan Manson wrote:
“Dear Mayor and Councillors,
On Tuesday this week, I sent an email to each of you enquiring whether Council planned to make a submission the government’s Parliamentary Inquiry into Unconventional Gas Mining (i.e. Fracking). So far, I have not received any response to my query.
Last Wednesday, I sent an email to my Ward Councillor – Andy Richards enquiring as to whether the councillors had received my email – but I have had no response. As there is a deadline looming, I am becoming concerned as to whether Council intends to provide a submission to the inquiry or not.
On Thursday, it was reported in the Geelong Advertiser that the Surfcoast Shire have “officially vowed to oppose unconventional gas exploration and mining” in the region; so the various anti-fracking groups within the PEP163 exploration area are wondering if the CoGG has any intentions of supporting the Surfcoast Shire’s position?
As the date closing date of Friday, 10th July 2015 for submissions to be lodged is not far away, our members are becoming concerned as to what Council’s position is regarding this matter.
Any indication you could provide to me about Council’s intentions here (at the earliest opportunity) would be most appreciated.