Category Archives: News

Ban on fracking enshrined in the Constitution of Victoria

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.


→ Friends of the Earth – 4 March 2021:
Community Win: Victoria’s Fracking Ban Enshrined in Constitution


Christine Couzens’ speech in Parliament

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.


Christine Couzens is Labor MP for Geelong


National inquiry into the impact of unconventional gas mining in Australia

→ Send a submission!

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!

» Send your submission by 14 March 2016 to gasmining.sen@aph.gov.au

Please state if you wish for your name to be withheld, when sending, otherwise your name will be published.

» More information at www.aph.gov.au

Thank you all for your continued support!

Final report on onshore unconventional gas tabled in Victorian parliament

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.



Friends of the Earth Melbourne wrote:

“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.”

» Read more

» Download the Committee’s Final Report.



Here’s Quit Coal‘s summary of the final report.

WHAT’S IN THE FINAL REPORT?

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!

Our analysis:

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:

_____________________________________________________

Hon. Daniel Andrews MP
Premier of Victoria

Dear Premier 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:

Minority Report – Harriet Shing MLC (Deputy Chair) and Shaun Leane MLC

“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,

Alan Manson
Convenor
Frack Free Grovedale
frackfreegrovedale@gmail.com







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.

harriet.shing@parliament.vic.gov.au

shaun.leane@parliament.vic.gov.au

samantha.dunn@parliament.vic.gov.au

daniel.young@parliament.vic.gov.au


2. Tell the Premier you support a permanent ban on ALL onshore gas drilling

daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au

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:

  1. 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!
  2. The issue of land access and of being taken to VCAT for farmers is still the same.
  3. Regulatory systems are not in place (Auditor Generals report).
  4. 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

Kind regards

Chloe Aldenhoven and Alison Marchant

Western Vic community campaigners

frackfreemoriac@gmail.com

Tel 0407 875123 ”



State enquiry into the issue of fracking

Straight after the Victorian state election, Minister for Energy, Resources and Industry Lily D’Ambrosio promised that the issue of social licence would be considered. But that is definitely not visible in the terms of reference for the enquiry, which the Victorian government published a couple of weeks ago.

Climate and anti-fracking groups stated outright that, “It looks like Lily has already been rolled – or succumbed – to the intense lobbying of the fossil fuel industry.”

Jane Morton from Victoria Climate Action Network has gone through the terms of reference text and highlighted the bits that seem to be put in for the community gas-resistance movement in green, and the bits that seem to be put in for the fossil fuel industry in yellow:

Firstly, here is what Lily D’Ambrosio said after the election:

“Labor is committed to the full moratorium on CSG, which will continue until a fully independent parliamentary inquiry has heard from the experts, reviewed the scientific evidence and consulted fully with the community,” Ms D’Ambrosio said. “It will remain in place until the science shows that it is safe and there is broad community support.”
www.weeklytimesnow.com.au

And:

“We are currently finalising terms of reference for the parliamentary inquiry which will be announced imminently,” Ms D’Ambrosio said in an email.

She said the government was also looking more broadly into the future of energy, “working with the industry and communities to explore future approaches to developing Victoria’s resources”, the statement said.

Earlier, the top Victorian public servant for the industry said the state’s blanket ban on onshore gas may not be lifted at the end of the yet-to-be-formed parliamentary inquiry.

Kylie White, deputy secretary for energy and resources, told a What about gas? event in Melbourne the moratorium continues until that inquiry is completed but that “doesn’t necessarily mean that at the end of the inquiry the moratorium is lifted.”

She said the inquiry would cover research, science and community views and the “social and regulatory arrangements of the industry.” The government would assess the report of the inquiry and “then some decisions will be made.”


Here is the ALP policy which they took to the election:

Labor recognises that the interests of the mining industry, the agricultural sector and the environment in the regulation of mineral exploration and mining and extractive industry operations must be equitably balanced.

Labor will:

• Introduce a comprehensive strategic land use framework that protects land which sustains sensitive rural and environmental land uses

• Require production of an environmental impact statement, based on clear legislative criteria, as a prerequisite for obtaining a licence for extraction, mining or major exploration

Maintain the ability for the Minister to exempt certain areas from exploration and/or mining licences

Maintain a ban on hydraulic fracturing during and prior to establishing a Parliamentary Inquiry into this and other mining processes and issues relating to unconventional gas exploration and mining



These are the enquiry terms of reference:

  1. the prospectivity of Victoria’s geology for commercial sources of onshore unconventional gas;
  1. the environmental, land productivity and public health risks, risk mitigations and residual risks of onshore unconventional gas activities;
  1. the coexistence of onshore unconventional gas activities with existing land and water uses, including —

(a)  agricultural production and domestic and export market requirements;

(b)  the legal rights of property owners and the impact on property values; and

(c)  any implications for local and regional development, investment and jobs;

4.      the ability of potential onshore unconventional gas resources contributing to the State’s overall energy sources including — (a) an ability to provide a competitive source of energy and non energy inputs for Victorian industries;

(b)  an affordable energy source for domestic consumers; and

(c)  carbon dioxide emissions from these sources;

  1. the resource knowledge requirements and policy and regulatory safeguards that would be necessary to enable exploration and development of onshore unconventional gas resources, including —

(a)  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

(b)  performance standards for managing environmental and health risks, including water quality, air quality, chemical use, waste disposal, land contamination and geotechnical stability;

  1. 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 and other reports generated by the Victorian community and stakeholder engagement programs.

[ENDS]





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ellen-sandell-fb-amendment

Inquiry amendments voted down by one vote

On 26 May 2015, the Greens amendments on the unconventional gas inquiry were voted down in the Victorian Parliament. The amendments were to include:
1. Looking into the benefits of a permanent ban on unconventional gas in Victoria
2. Looking into capacity of regulators to actually deal with this industry
3. Looking into costs of any clean up/spill/leak etc
4. Extend the dates by 3 months. They were initially brought forward and many people felt the timeline was too short for it to be meaningful

The Greens negotiated these amendments with Labor to get their support. Unfortunately these amendments lost by 1 vote. James Purcell and Labor voted for the amendments but the Liberals, Nationals, Sex Party, DLP and Shooters voted against.

Ellen Sandell, State Greens MP for Melbourne, wrote:
“We’ll be putting out some messages on social media about how we’re disappointed in the Nationals selling our rural communities, feel free to do the same or re-tweet or share our Facebook messages, which will be on my Facebook page.
The inquiry may begin tonight with the first committee sitting. We’ll keep you all informed on how local groups can be involved – we’ll need a big push from locals and experts to make sure the inquiry hears loud voices in favour of a ban. There’s still hope even though this is a small setback”



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Victorian Government Inquiry into Unconventional Gas

Friends of the Earth Melbourne wrote in an email:

“What we know

The state government’s promised Inquiry into Unconventional Gas has now been formally announced, with broad terms of reference (TOR). The final TOR will be determined by the committee. Significantly, it is a cross party committee (the  Environment and Planning References Committee from the Legislative Council [Upper House]). The Chair is a Liberal (David Davis), and there is one National (Melinda Bath), one Green (Samantha Dunn), three from the ALP (Gayle Tierney, Harriet Shing, Shaun Leane), an additional MP from the Liberals (Richard Dalla-Riva), and one MP from the Shooters Party (Daniel Young).

Work started by the previous government, into water tables and the community consultation process run by the Primary Agency, will be released as part of the inquiry.

The moratorium on CSG exploration will stay in place until the inquiry delivers its findings.

The interim report is due in September and the final report by December. (There is the possibility that the committee will amend this timeline if they are overwhelmed with submissions or information). Parliament will then need to consider the recommendations of the committee and make a final decision about how to proceed. This is likely to happen when parliament resumes after the summer break, in early 2016.

What we want

This is ultimately a political rather than technical issue, with the state government needing to decide on whether to allow the industry to proceed. The committee can recommend this, or recommend a ban or extend the moratorium, but the Andrews government will need to take the final decision.

Our aim is to:
• demonstrate that the UCG industry does not have social license to operate in Victoria,
• build the case to ensure the state government realises an onshore UCG industry will be negative for Victoria in environmental, social and economic terms,
• build the political will for the government to rule out any development of the industry here. We need to make sure this is supported by the other Parties, especially the Coalition, as the ALP does not have control of the Upper House. (…)

Keep in touch via Coal and Gas Free Victoria website and Facebook page. There will be regular updates.”

The above is an excerpt of a letter prepared by Friends of the Earth.

Read more:

» www.facebook.com/pages/Coal-Gas-Free-Victoria/705642879502234

» www.coalandgasfreevic.org

» www.melbourne.foe.org.au

» Sign the petition: www.melbourne.foe.org.au/ban_ucg_in_victoria




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Over the past 4 years, Friends of the Earth have worked with communities across southern Victoria to build a grassroots movement that has stopped the development of the unconventional gas (UCG) industry. Using the coal and gasfield free organising model, we have worked with 75 regional communities to develop local consensus that the community will oppose any new ‘greenfield’ coal or gas development.

Already 61 communities have declared themselves coal or gasfield free, with an average of 95% support.

Working together we made this an issue that mattered in the 2014 state election.


State inquiry underway.

We are now entering a new phase in the campaign, as the state inquiry promised by the ALP gets underway. FoE will be working to build the case for a permanent ban on UCG drilling. The interim report from the Inquiry committee is due on September 1.

We really need people to get active in coming months:

Please write a submission. We have until July 10. There is background information here. We are currently working on our submission and will post a model/ draft submission on the website shortly.

Please come along to the public hearings. We will post details on our website as they are announced.

Please sign our petition. We need to build the case that the UCG industry does not have community license to get established. One way you can do this is to send a clear message to the state government by signing our petition calling for an outright ban. This will be delivered to the Premier in September.

Please support our work. The next 6 months present us with our best chance ever of stopping the destructive UCG industry from getting established in our state. FoE is doing valuable work on a minimal budget, and we are getting results.

Imagine what we could do with a little more cash. If you can, please support our work with a tax deductible donation.

And please put this one in your diary: we will be organising a major community rally on sunday September 20 in Melbourne to show the massive community opposition to unconventional gas.

Bringing the campaign to the city

When we started the campaign against UCG in Victoria, we had a state government that didn’t care what urban environmentalists thought. So we re-focused our work onto regional Victoria. The results of this are plain to see in the moratorium on fracking and drilling approvals and the state inquiry.

To finish this campaign we must also re-focus on the city. We are looking for a small team of volunteers to work on a series of campaigns which aim to apply pressure to key MPs across Melbourne and regional centres.

Each mini-campaign will be targeted around that seat, but is likely to include community polling, local media and stunts, and MP visits. If you’d like to be involved, or would like further information, please email Cam. Cam.walker@foe.org.au

 
Thanks for your efforts and support. Together we can stop this industry (and then there’s coal ….)
regards
Cam

PS: you are probably aware that extremist elements in the federal government are currently trying to take our tax status off us. Given that more than 90% of our income is from tax deductible donations and grant funding, such a move will be absolutely disastrous for us.

We need your support like never before. Please donate today.



Film: Frackman

Trailer published on youtube.com on 12 February 2015

“Frackman is a powerful, punchy and poignant documentary about the conflict faced by one unlikely Australian activist and communities of Aussies directly affected by the roll-out of the massive multinational coal seam gas (CSG) industry in Queensland’s rural heartland.

Small landowners and farmers – in towns such as Chinchilla – who are feeling sick from leaking gas are running the gauntlet of machines, pipes, and processing plants on the surface, while deep underground bore water becomes polluted and aquifers run dry.

At the centre of the drama is the life of one man – accidental activist Dayne Pratzky – who had intended to settle down on the land but instead becomes drawn into a fight for his own property rights and the rights of affected communities to stand up to the industrial machine. His only entitlement is to the first six inches of dirt beneath his feet – but no more.
The problems start when the CSG exploration teams are allowed onto the land and find gas reserves on it. At that point the landowner loses the right to prevent the onslaught of full-scale drilling. Featured in Frackman is the grassroots Lock The Gate movement that is trying to get whole communities and individual landholders to keep the exploration teams locked out.
The mechanised invasion is acutely depicted in Frackman, bringing home clearly the conflict between citizens and the industry. The film is a lesson in various aspects of activism, everything from petitioning, grassroots campaigning and the detailed tactical planning needed for direct action and active resistance.”
Excerpt of review in Shift Magazine


» More info on www.frackmanthemovie.com


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When the documentary film ‘Frackman’ was screened in Geelong, the screening was followed by three speakers:

Damien Marchant, Frack Free Moriac
Chloe Aldenhoven and Dom, Friends of the Earth Melbourne and Lock the Gate

You can listen to the speeches in The Sustainable Hour no 74



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Film: Voices from the gasfields

Reality in Australia. Watch this collection of interviews from Queensland:

Others – Victorians, Geelongians – should listen and learn, and not make the same mistake allowing this toxic industry to continue its dirty business.

“I have not seen another film like it, telling us, warning us how really dreadful life is living amongst the gas wells. I have a huge respect for the families in Australia that held onto their land and shared their stories with us.”
~ Pippa King, United Kingdom


voices-from-the-gasfieldsDV

» You can buy the DVD for £6.99 – and support the filmmaker, Ian Crane – here:
www.ianrcrane.com

Write a submission to Geelong Council

Council calls for public submissions on fracking

Deadline: 26 September 2014. Council runs a fact-finding process and takes public submissions about coal seam gas mining / on-shore gas extraction / fracking. A media release from the City of Greater Geelong Council on 22 August 2014 stated:

“The City of Greater Geelong is seeking further information regarding onshore gas extraction process and will call for public submissions on the issue.

Under a Notice of Motion moved initially by Environment and Sustainability Portfolio holder Cr Andy Richards at a Council meeting in July, a 30-day process is underway to educate Council of the issues associated with this industry.

Cr Andy Richards is calling for public submissions about onshore gas extraction including coal seam, shale gas and tight gas extraction and associated extraction methods such as hydraulic fracking.

“We’re aware that there is a level of concern in the community about onshore gas extraction and are calling for people to have their say about the industry and its possible impacts on the Geelong region.”

“Now is the time to put forward your point of view and any research or evidence that contributes to the debate.”

“State Government is responsible for issuing any permits and there is currently a state-wide moratorium on coal seam gas mining.”

“Submissions open 25 August and can be emailed, mailed or dropped in to customer service centres. We’ll need your input by Friday 26 September which is the closing date for submissions,” said Cr Richards.

A report of the submissions will subsequently be presented to Council.

Background information regarding onshore gas extraction, including coal seam, shale gas and tight gas extraction can be viewed at all City of Greater Geelong customer service centres.

How to provide feedback:

Online:
www.geelongaustralia.com.au/yoursay

Mail:

Onshore Gas Submission
Manager Environment and Waste Services
City of Greater Geelong
PO Box 104
GEELONG 3220

Email:
rthomas@geelongcity.vic.gov.au

Drop off:
In designated boxes at customer service centres

ENDS”

HaveYourSay-Fracking


Please note that the three links that Council is providing are all in favour of gas mining. If you would like to become acquainted with views independent of the industry, we suggest you look on this page which contains information from Doctors for the Environment, Beyond Zero Emissions, Australia Institute, and The Climate Institute.


Ask Council to apply for the exemption

When you write your submission to City of Greater Geelong, consider copying the text below into your submission in some form or another:

Surf Coast Shire has put forward a motion on Unconventional Gas Exploration and Development expressing concern about potential impacts and lack of regulatory framework. (See council minutes for motion details, page 177, link below). It seems the Shire can apply to be exempt from this type of mining, but needs the community to ask council, through letters and emails, to apply for the exemption. If this holds true, then I would hereby like to ask City of Greater Geelong Council to do the same. Dear councillors, you must apply for this extension just like Surf Coast Shire is doing it and ensure that City of Greater Geelong remains gas mining free.

» Surf Coast Shire council minutes:
http://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/My_Council/Agendas_Minutes/Council_Agendas_Minutes/council_minutes_14/Meeting_26_August_2014?minutes



News and updates from City of Greater Geelong

Council undertaking comprehensive fact-finding process on coal seam gas extraction methods
Thursday, 28 August 2014

Have Your Say – Fracking
Thursday, 28 August 2014

Onshore Gas Extraction Public Submissions
Thursday, 21 August 2014

Fracking fact finding
Thursday, 7 August 2014



Film: Farmland Not Gaslands

‘Farmland Not Gaslands’ trailer. Published on youtube.com on 21 August 2014.

When plans for unconventional gas mining threaten to invade Gippsland and Western Victoria, communities fight back and prove they are a force to be reckoned with.

Don’t miss your chance to see the new locally made film by Melbourne producer and director Pennie Brown.

» Read more on www.coalandgasfreevic.org

Farmland Not Gaslands poster

It is utter madness how the government wants to destroy the best farm land in Australia. Any party approving onshore gas drilling will have to fight the community every step of the way, because farmers, environmentalists and communities are ready to blockade this invasive gas industry.

Melbourne Premiere (followed by expert panel discussion)
Date: Thursday 11 September 2014 at 6.30pm
Venue: Kino Cinemas, Collins Place, 45 Collins St, Melbourne CBD
Tickets: $19 adult, $15 concession
» Buy them at: www.effm.org.au

Gippsland Premiere
Date: Saturday 13 September 2014 at 6.30pm
Venue: Sale Cinema, 50 Cunninghame st, Sale
Tickets: $15 for sale at the door
All profits go towards supporting communities threatened by unconventional gas in rural Victoria.

» Facebook page ‘Farmland Not Gaslands’:
www.facebook.com/farmlandnotgaslands

» Home page www.coalandgasfreevic.org


Peak body of 79 Victorian councils opposes fracking

What this resolution basically says is that the State Council of Munical Association of Victoria – the legislated peak body for Victoria’s 79 councils – opposes any exploration for and extraction of fracking and gas mining within the state.

Now the big question to many of us is: where does that leave our council? Why hasn’t our mayor and councillors issued a similar resolution long ago?

We look forward to hear more about the information session which MAV is planning to run with councils and Minister.


Coal Seam Gas

Resolution:
The State Council of MAV to oppose any exploration for and extraction of Coal Seam Gas within the State.

Contact officer:
Claire Dunn

Assessment against criteria for incorporating emerging issues:

(1) Magnitude of impact the issue is likely to have on councils and their communities
Unclear although, as noted in rationale for resolution, potentially very significant environmental impacts if State approves exploration and extraction activities.

(2) Number of councils affected by the issue
Eastern Vic (Gippsland) and Western Vic councils likely to be most affected.

(3) Political ramifications of the issue for effective intergovernmental cooperation
Potentially significant depending on State’s ultimate decision re allowing exploration.

(4) Immediacy of the issue
On 28 May, the Victorian Coalition Government announced its decision to put a hold on work plan approvals for onshore gas exploration until more information is available including evidence from the water study, community views, and industry impacts. The State is holding a number of “Open Days” in Gippsland and Western Vic in June as part of its community and stakeholder engagement program. The Minister also met with the MAV in April for preliminary discussions re the community consultation program and councils’ concerns.

(5) Likelihood of influencing an outcome in local government’s favour
The Minister is keen to engage with the MAV and councils on this issue and has signalled his desire to speak to councils directly at a MAV-held forum.

Additional comments:

Recommended action(s):
Seek a meeting with the Minister for Energy and Resources to advise him of the State Council resolution and to get an update from him on the outcomes of the June Open Days. MAV to run an information session with councils and Minister.


At a State Council meeting of the Municipality Association of Victoria on 16 May 2014, 74 per cent voted in favour of a motion calling for a ban on fracking.

This means that the State Council of the Municipality Association of Victoria now officially opposes any exploration for and extraction of unconventional gas within the state of Victoria.

“We are pleased and encouraged that the motion put forward by Moyne Shire Council to oppose unconventional gas mining in Victoria has been passed. It is an indicator that local councils are listening and responding to the myriad concerns of their residents regarding this practice. We also hope this will decision will put additional pressure on the State Government to maintain the current moratorium on unconventional gas mining indefinitely,” said Frack Free Geelong spokesperson Elizabeth Packatt.

The motion will help build pressure on the state government to extend its current moratorium on the process of fracking to include all exploration activity.

Thanks to Moyne Shire for its leadership!


Motion 42. Coal Seam Gas

Submitting Council: Moyne Shire Council

Motion:
That Moyne Shire Council seeks the support of the State Council of MAV to oppose any exploration for and extraction of Coal Seam Gas within the State.

Submitting Council Rationale:

a) Strong community support to take a position in opposition to Coal Seam Gas activities in South West Victoria.

b) Evidence from Coal Seam Gas Fields in Queensland and long established fields in the United States shows significant impaction on aquifer viability and agricultural production.

NOTE – Coal Seam Gas includes coal seam gas, shale deposits and light gas which utilize fracking, horizontal drilling and deep drilling methods.