Anti-fracking advocates rejoiced today as the Minister for Energy and Mining announced that the Liberal Government would support the 10-year SE fracking moratorium being legislated.
The Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, today announced in the sitting that the Liberals would support the bill, presented to the Lower House by Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell.
“This is a topic that has been in the state, this parliament and the South East as well as the petroleum industry for many years now,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said during the hearing.
“The government took to the election a commitment to introduce a moratorium against unconventional gas projects in the South East of our state and we have delivered on that commitment.
“Enshrining the moratorium in legislation has no practical impact upon what may happen in regards to petroleum exploration or production in the South East,” Mr von Holst Pellekaan said.
“But it does clearly have an important impact on the people in the South East.
“Overwhelmingly, the people in the South East want that commitment enshrined in legislation and...the government will support the member’s position on this bill.”
Mr van Holst Pellekaan congratulated Member for MacKillop Nick McBride for effectively representing his electorate. He explained that the moratorium will not be extended to conventional gas and will not extend beyond the South East.
Labor MP Tom Koutsantonis spoke against the stance, claiming the last-minute decision was not for the right reasons.
“It (the decision) is not based on science, it is not based on facts, it is based on vote,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“So what industry is next that is not popular? What other industries are going to be arbitrarily banned by a Liberal Government just because they want votes?
“This decision says that South Australia is not open for business, it says that this government will not stand up for anything and it will stand up for anything but pressure.
“The government yesterday announced the days of picking winners is over, they don’t pick winners anymore, and what this is, is picking winners.”
Mr McBride argued this was not the case.
“My support for this bill is a reflection of the members of the MacKilllop electorate and the broader people of the Limestone Coast who have shown a strong desire to see a moratorium on hydraulic fracking legislated,” Mr McBride said.
“The importance of legislating a moratorium on hydraulic fracking in the South East has been expressed by many landowners, businesses, residents and the region.
“A significant number of regional and state-wide industry groups have also signalled their support for this bill.”
Mr Bell presented the Speaker with a petition given to him by the Limestone Coast Protection Alliance, whose members travelled from the South East this morning to support the bill and hear the outcome.
The petition had a total of around 4000 signatures from across the region.
Alliance chairman Angus Ralton said the outcome was great, but the fight wasn’t over.
“We are completely stoked, and are really excited that the Liberal government has listened and have honoured their pledge so now we have legislation, we have certainty for protection for our industries for 10 years,” Mr Ralton said.
“We believe the gas industry does not have a future in the South East so we will be working to that next.”
In a media statement released earlier this afternoon, Mr Ralton added: “It’s a huge relief for us to have certainty that the water resources and agricultural industries of the Limestone Coast will be safe from fracking for 10 years.
“We want to thank our local member Troy Bell for his hard work and support of our community’s efforts to secure this certainty for our region and safeguard our water from fracking.
“We also want to especially thank local Liberal MP Nick McBride for backing this bill, supporting his community and leading on this issue inside the Liberal Party and Greens MLC Mark Parnell who has supported our efforts. We’re enormously grateful.”
Mr Ralton said he took issue with Mr Koutsantonis’s stance that the decision was not based on science.
“We have the science, he knows we have the science and when we showed him the science, he told us that he would just come back with his own science.
“We have the science on our side and boat loads of information about disaffected farmers that are not happy, that have been driven off their land and now we have that protection in spite of them.”
Beach Energy issued a statement explaining that the fracking moratorium will have no effect on its business within the South East, as it focuses on conventional gas.
“Beach Energy’s focus in the South East has solely been on the rejuvenation of conventional gas development in the region, none of which requires fracking,” it said. “As such, the moratorium doesn’t impact our plans to develop clean and reliable energy for the state.”
The bill will now be presented to the Upper House later this month for debate.