Check here for details on the Victorian government's Inquiry into Unconventional gas.
Public hearings are now underway, and we have three more weeks to influence the Inquiry as the interim report is due out on September 1.
The state government's promised Inquiry into Unconventional Gas has now been formally announced, with broad terms of reference (TOR). FoE's response to the TOR is available here.
In the debate about the Inquiry on May 26, when the terms of reference (TOR) were considered, The Greens suggested three key amendments which would have broadened the TOR, that the Inquiry consider:
- the environmental, public health, community, land and public safety benefits of a perpetual ban on onshore unconventional gas in Victoria;
- the capacity of existing regulators to undertake regular, intensive monitoring and risk management of unconventional gas projects
- the potential economic and social costs, in the short and long term, of environmental disaster response, pollution management, compensation to affected landholders, environmental impacts and site rehabilitation.
In the vote, The Greens, Vote 1 Local Jobs and the ALP supported the proposed amendments. The Nationals, Liberals, Sex Party, DLP and Shooters and Fishers Party opposed them. This meant the amendments were lost. Our full response to this is available here.
The Upper House Environment and Planning Committee will manage the Inquiry.
You can find the Inquiry website here.
Significantly, it is a cross party committee. The Chair is a Liberal (David Davis), and there is one National (Melinda Bath), one Green (Samantha Dunn), three from the ALP (Gayle Tierney, Harriet Shing, Shaun Leane), an additional MP from the Liberals (Richard Dalla-Riva), and one MP from the Shooters Party (Daniel Young).
Work started by the previous government, into water tables and the community consultation process run by the Primary Agency, will be released as part of the inquiry.
The moratorium on unconventional gas exploration will stay in place until the inquiry delivers its findings.
The interim report is due on September 1 and the final report by December 1. There is the possibility that the committee will amend this timeline if they are overwhelmed with submissions or information. Parliament will then need to consider the recommendations of the committee and make a final decision about how to proceed. This is likely to happen when parliament resumes after the summer break, in early 2016.
Melbourne. Wednesday 22 July 2015
10.00 am to 3.30 pm
Legislative Council Committee Room
Parliament House, Spring Street, East Melbourne VIC 3002
Surf Coast. Wednesday 12 August and Thursday 13 August 2015 - Regional Hearing
Surf Coast Shire, Torquay
The first round of hearings were held in Sale on June 30 and July 1. A full schedule of people and organisations that are appearing is available here.
The Inquiry - making a submission
NB: the submission process is now closed.
The Committee has now called for written submissions within its terms of reference and which focus on:
- The potential benefits of onshore unconventional gas as an energy source
- The potential risks, including risks to the environment, land productivity, agricultural industries and public health, and whether such risks can be managed
- The impact on the legal rights of property owners and existing land and water uses
- How this issue is managed in other Australian and international jurisdictions
- Potential changes to our legislative and regulatory framework.
Or post: Keir Delaney, Secretary, Environment & Planning Committee Parliament House, Spring Street, Melbourne VIC 3002
Further details about how to make a submission or contribute at a public hearing can be found on the Committee's website: www.parliament.vic.gov.au/epc
Submissions close on 10 July.
A short list of ideas that may be helpful in writing your submission is available here.
What we want
This is ultimately a political rather than technical issue, with the state government needing to decide on whether to allow the industry to proceed. The committee can recommend this, or recommend a ban or extend the moratorium, but the Andrews government will need to take the final decision.
Our aim is to:
demonstrate that the UCG industry does not have social license to operate in Victoria,
build the case to ensure the state government realises an onshore UCG industry will be negative for Victoria in environmental, social and economic terms,
build the political will for the government to rule out any development of the industry here. We need to make sure this is supported by the other Parties, especially the Coalition, as the ALP does not have control of the Upper House.
What we need to do
SHOW UP AT THE HEARINGS
We need to make sure we get good turn outs at all public hearings. See above for details on remaining hearings.
WRITE A SUBMISSION
NB: the closing date for submissions was July 10.
We will need lots of people to write submissions. Check here for some 'talking points' to use in your submission.
We will be holding a session at Friends of the Earth in Collingwood on monday July 6 from 6.30pm to help people with writing submissions. All are welcome to come along, get some information, and write your submission. Details here.
SIGN OUR PETITION
Our aim is to produce a new state-wide petition that calls on the Victorian parliament to rule out any new greenfield development of coal and gas in the state. We will aim to deliver this to parliament as soon as the draft report is tabled in Parliament. You can sign it here.
COME TO THE RALLY
We aim to hold a large rally on Sunday September 20 (the draft report is due on Sept 1) to make it clear the community wants an outright ban on this destructive industry. Stay tuned for details in coming months.
Our media releases on the Inquiry
Prepared by Friends of the Earth. Box 222, Fitzroy.