FRACKING will never happen in Victoria, with the state becoming the first in Australia to permanently ban all exploration and extraction of unconventional onshore gas but exploration and development for offshore gas will continue.
A moratorium on the exploration and extraction of conventional onshore gas — a process industry groups say can take place without fracking — will remain until 2020.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the Victorian policy this morning after a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial issue failed to make a key recommendation last year.
PREMIER FELT GAS HEAT
“Our farmers produce some of the world’s cleanest and freshest food. We won’t put that at risk with fracking,” Mr Andrews said.
“Victorians have made it clear that they don’t support fracking and that the health and environmental risks involved outweigh any potential benefits,” he said.
The inquiry by a group of cross-party MPs received more than 1600 submissions and was expected to lead to a policy announcement midyear, but that was delayed by the appointment of new Resources Minister Wade Noonan in May.
Speaking to the media, with the Premier in South Gippsland this morning, Mr Noonan said “this decision gets the balance right.”
“We have carefully considered the Parliamentary Inquiry’s key findings and recommendations, consulted widely and made our decision on the best available evidence.” Mr Noonan said.
The decision goes against the Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg’s suggestion that bans on gas extraction were jeopardising Australia’s gas supply.
“I’m not pleased that in my own state of Victoria there’s a bipartisan position against the development of this unconventional gas.” Mr Frydenberg said in February.
Friends of the Earth and Lock the Gate have led a campaign against onshore gas in Victoria and claim that more than 70 communities, mostly in Gippsland and Southwest Victoria, have declared themselves gas field free.
The Victorian Farmers Federation had been calling for a ban on all onshore gas exploration and extraction until 2020, a policy adopted by the State Opposition last September.
The moratorium on fracking was introduced in Victoria in August 2012 and later extended to include all forms of onshore gas exploration and extraction.
The permanent legislative ban on unconventional gas will be introduced to Parliament later this year. Until then, the current moratorium will remain in place.
A study into conventional gas will be conduct by a panel that will include farmers, industry, business and community representatives, and headed by lead scientist Amanda Caples.
Exploration and development for offshore gas will continue.