The Victorian Government today announced a permanent ban on the exploration and development of all onshore unconventional gas in the State, with industry bodies labelling the decision as irresponsible.
In what is a national first, the Government says the permanent legislative ban will protect the ‘clean, green’ reputation of Victoria’s agricultural sector.
“Our farmers produce some of the world’s cleanest and freshest food, we won’t put that at risk with fracking,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
“Victorians have made it clear that they don’t support fracking and that the health and environmental risks involved outweigh any potential benefits.”
The 2015 Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas in Victoria received more than 1,600 submissions, most of which, according to the government, were opposed to onshore unconventional gas.
Exemptions to the ban will remain for other types of activities that are not covered by the current moratorium, such as gas storage, carbon storage research and accessing offshore resources.
Exploration and development for offshore gas will also continue.
Until legislation is passed by Parliament, the current moratorium on unconventional onshore gas exploration and development will stay in place.
The Government will also legislate to extend the current moratorium on exploration and development of conventional onshore gas until June 30 2020, noting that fracking will remain banned.
The Victorian Government’s decision to permanently ban development of its valuable gas reserves has undermined its own authority as a participant in East Coast gas market reform, said Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) Chief Executive Cheryl Cartwright.
“Victoria has walked away from investment in State development – from infrastructure and now from energy,” said Ms Cartwright in response to the decision today to legislate against development of coal seam gas.
“As South Australia and the other East Coast gas market participants try to find a solution to the current gas demand-supply imbalance, Victorian has abandoned its responsibilities to the gas market and gas users of Australia.
“The only solution to the current shortage of gas and high prices is to increase supply.
“Gas is a critical fuel for many industries as an input to production or as a critical source of high-temperature waste disposal, such as in hospitals.
“Quite clearly, now that it has abrogated its responsibilities to the East Coast gas market, the Victorian Government should also withdraw from further policy discussion.
“Its opinion has no credibility when it comes to policies that might address the demand-supply imbalance of gas on the East Coast.”