Thursday, 12 February 2015
Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2013; In Committee
Labor recognises the contribution of natural gas from coal, shale and tight formations to the Australian economy and the importance of robust environmental regulation to ensure that these resources are extracted and exported in a sustainable way. But Labor does not support the amendments of Senator Xenophon to include all hydraulic fracturing in this field. That is because in 2012 the then Labor government signed the National Partnership Agreement on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coalmining Development with Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.
Following that, Labor established the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coalmining Development to provide scientific advice to decision makers on the impact that these developments may have on Australia's water resources. That initiative was supported with $150 million of Commonwealth funding. The IESC advice and the water trigger amendment to the EPBC Act were in in keeping with the scope of that national partnership agreement. We did this to establish best practice in regulation of sensitive fracking activities and fracking activities that were near water resources, such as aquifers, which are much closer to the surface than many forms of shale and tight gas that require fracking. While Labor do not support these amendments, we do believe that there is room to review the existing national partnership agreement in partnership with the states to consider other tight gas developments.