Nationals criticised over coal seam gas

THE National Party has denied locals the chance to have their say on coal seam gas exploration and fracking in Gippsland for the second time, according to Eastern Victoria MLC Matt Viney.

Mr Viney said in parliament, the Nationals had voted against a State Opposition motion to establish a public inquiry into CSG and the impacts of fracking, for the second time in as many months.

Mr Viney condemned the government, saying it demonstrated that local National Party MPs were not representing Gippsland in parliament.

“The priority of local National Party MPs now they are in government is clearly not Gippsland,” he said.

“It appears they have little regard for the sentiment of the community,” he added.

The Labor Party called for a 12-month moratorium on unconventional gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Victoria in April after concerns were raised about its effect on water tables in particular.

Mr Viney said Labor sought to set up a parliamentary inquiry to investigate the impacts on the environment, human health and the economy during the moratorium period.

However deputy premier and Gippsland South MLA Peter Ryan said the investigation Mr Viney wanted was not needed.

“It was the former Labor Government, which included Mr Viney, that granted more than 75 per cent of the exploration licences that now apply across Gippsland,” he said.

“The investigation he says he now wants, was not needed then and it is not needed now.

Mr Ryan said the state government had taken a number of steps to secure the interests of landowners and Gippslanders generally, in relation to this issue.

“Fracking is banned pending the outcome of a meeting between all relevant ministers, including the Commonwealth, to be held in December,” he said.

“It is there proposed that (a) national code be developed to cover fracking and the Victorian Government will consider that proposition as and when it is produced.

“We have banned the use of BTEX chemicals which have caused concerns in other jurisdictions.

“That ban stands and will be applied comprehensively.

“Labor and Mr Viney in particular, need to keep up with the debate.

“The measures that the Coalition government has now installed far exceed anything which Labor ever put in place when it was in power.”