Seaspray meets with ALP over CSG

MORE than 20 Seaspray residents raised concerns about the possible impacts fracking could have on water quality in a meeting with Shadow Water Minister Martin Foley on Tuesday night.

Locals used the meeting, driven by Lock the Gate Gippsland, to call on the ALP to commit to extending the moratorium to include all forms of exploration work, including horizontal drilling, if it is elected to government later this year.

Mr Foley said the meeting focused on the community’s reliance on ground water and the need for it to be protected.

“I put forward our demands for an independent inquiry rather than the inquiry from Peter Reith, paid by industry,” he said.

“If elected we will commit to an expert-based, public inquiry, taking into account science and agricultural concerns.

“We need to prioritise agriculture over coal seam gas; we had a fifth generation farmer there and we need to look at agriculture as opposed to first generation CSG.

“The water aquifer is an inter-generational asset that needs protection — we need to leave it as we found it.”

Mr Foley said more immediate concerns around current exploration were also aired.

“They are concerned no-one in government is talking to them.”

During his visit to Gippsland, Mr Foley also met with dairy producers in south Gippsland, East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority in Bairnsdale and Southern Rural Water in Maffra.

“I’m here, in my role as Labor’s representative for water, to talk about the implications of aquifers,” Mr Foley said.

“Southern Rural Water are the agents for licensed aquifers and their use.

“They played a straight bat but were very mindful of the implications of water quality and the requirements under the Water Quality Act.

“Aquifers can go up and down and water quality has to be suitable.”

Mr Foley also visited Morwell to receive an update on air quality contamination issues.

The Seaspray meeting lasted more than three hours.