Communities across the state welcomed today’s announcement by the Coalition that they are strengthening their position on unconventional gas mining to a 5 year moratorium. The new position, an improvement on the one held when they were in government is a good step in the right direction, but rural communities are still disappointed that this did not happen whilst they were in power and will not back down until a permanent ban is in place.
Whilst supporting a 5 year moratorium is better, it still does not address the key issue which is that the unconventional gas mining industry does not have a social licence to operate in regional Victoria. This is shown by the 67 communities that have already declared themselves gasfield free.
“There is a strong, organised and resilient community movement against unconventional gas mining, and a growing number of rural communities in Gippsland and Western Victoria have taken matters into their own hands by surveying and declaring their communities off limits to this invasive industry” said Lock the Gate Victorian Coordinator Ursula Alquier.
“If the Coalition really wants to reflect community opinion it should support a permanent ban. Support for a state wide ban on all unconventional gas mining from either main party would show rural communities that our politicians are listening and care about protecting our state’s food and water security” she said.
“Whilst the Coalition’s new position is better, it still fails people living in areas under approved exploration licences. The mental stress and uncertainty that is affecting communities in license areas will continue. They want certainty. They want to get on with their lives. A permanent ban will allow this to happen” said Ms Alquier.
Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Cam Walker added: “There is now an opportunity for the ALP to regain leadership on this issue by supporting a full and permanent ban on all on-shore unconventional gas drilling. The government has indicated it will announce it’s position after receiving the final report from the state Inquiry into unconventional gas. But community opposition is clear, and many questions remain about the likely negative impacts of a gas industry.”