Wednesday, 15 November 2017
Coal Seam Gas Mining: Liverpool Plains
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) sustainable food and fibre production on the Liverpool Plains requires an integrated and strategic approach to water reform,
(ii) the Liverpool Plains contains some of the most productive and fertile soil in Australia and farmers need certainty about water resources to assist their farming practices, and
(iii) the high degree of connectivity between groundwater systems throughout the Namoi Valley indicates that mining impacts on Liverpool Plains groundwater can extend well beyond one local site into surrounding agricultural systems; and
(b) calls on the Government to protect agricultural groundwater systems by placing a moratorium on Commonwealth approval of proposed coal and coal seam gas mining projects on the Liverpool Plains, Namoi Valley and Gunnedah Basin.
The government does not support this motion and opposes any moratorium or blanket bans on development. Safeguards are already in place to protect agricultural groundwater systems and the environment. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 has a water trigger requiring environmental assessment for coal seam gas and large coalmining development that may significantly impact water resources. The minister is also required to seek the advice of the independent expert scientific committee on all large coal and coal seam gas projects that require approval under the EPBC Act. Moratoriums have only served to restrict gas development and supply and increase energy costs.