Thursday, 15 May 2014
Coal Seam Gas
That the Senate—
(i) the huge community opposition to Metgasco's plans to drill for tight gas near Bentley in New South Wales,
(ii) that tight gas extraction involves hydraulic fracking which risks precious water resources, and
(iii) that 84.5 per cent of Bentley locals want their lands and road gas-field free;
(b) congratulates the Bentley blockaders for their commitment to protecting their land, water, the climate and regional communities from big gas; and
(c) calls on:
(i) the New South Wales Government to respect the rights of protesters to peacefully protest, and to respond to the community's valid concerns by revoking Metgasco's gas exploration permit, and
(ii) the Australian Government to extend the current protections for water resources under our national environment laws to all unconventional gas, to give landholders the right to say no to gas mining on their land, and to not hand responsibility for protecting land and water from big gas to state governments.
I seek leave to make a very short statement.
I just wish to place on record my congratulations to everyone who has been to the Bentley blockade on a success this morning, in that the exploration has been suspended and the company has been referred to ICAC, as have so many other companies in New South Wales. So I congratulate the blockaders for their persistence and courage and for standing up to protect New South Wales's land and water, and all of our climate. The suspension should, of course, now be a revocation. It is just not safe to jeopardise our land and water with this risky new industry.
The motion calls upon the federal government to do more to protect water, not less—sadly, the minister, Minister Hunt, is now planning to give away the federal water protections to those very same cowboy states—and it also calls upon the federal government to give landholders the right to say no to this dangerous industry. Senators Ludlam and Rhiannon and I are very much looking forward to joining the folk at the blockade this weekend. (Time expired)
We acknowledge that this issue has progressed overnight. However, the government does not support this motion. This government supports the responsible development of resources based on scientific evidence with the involvement of local communities and appropriate environmental safeguards. We have long held the view that the development of resources should occur under three coexistence principles: that there is no long-term damage to the underground water supply, that agricultural production is not permanently impaired, and that access to prime agricultural land should only occur with the farmer's agreement. Landholders' rights should be respected if they do not wish for their land to be used for exploration or production of gas. Equal respect should be given to those landholders who do choose to allow their land to be used for exploration or production of gas, and they should have the right to say yes without their privacy and their safety being impacted. We support the right of people to peacefully protest; however, in relation to the situation on the Kyogle-Bentley road near Lismore, New South Wales, the rights of the landowner have not been respected.