From 2011 until 2017, the Victorian community, especially regional communities in the south of the state, campaigned hard to win the ban on fracking and the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling.
While fracking (unconventional gas drilling) was banned permanently, a moratorium was placed on onshore conventional exploration and drilling. This has been in force since 2014, has been extended once, and will expire on June 30, 2020.
Having a ban and moratorium has given certainty to farming communities, who can feel safe from the negative threats of local gas production. It has also stopped new fossil fuels from being developed in a time where climate science makes it abundantly clear that the time for new coal, gas and oil is over.
Any ban or moratorium shows that communities can say NO to the fossil fuel industry. They inspire other states and territories to do the same. Industry is campaigning to have these examples of hope and resistance removed.
Now the community faces the prospect of the moratorium being lifted and exploration and conventional gas drilling starting again. There are already a number of ‘onshore to offshore’ drilling sites in the west of the state. This is a way to get around the moratorium, where a drill site is constructed on land, then uses directional drilling to access gas fields located under the ocean. This is happening around Nirranda South, to the west of Port Campbell, where the Halladale 1 and Speculant 1 and 2 fields are being accessed.
The ban and moratorium have been strongly opposed by the fossil fuel industry. We need the community to defend it. There has been a sustained campaign waged through the Murdoch Press calling on the Victorian government to lift both the ban and the moratorium. This has been backed by many in the Coalition, recently even by the Prime Minister himself. The argument goes that Victoria needs to allow onshore gas drilling so as to bring down gas prices for domestic and commercial consumers. However, this flies in the face of the facts.