Gas ‘no’ vote urged

ONSHORE gas opponents have urged Senators to vote down the federal government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Bill 2014 in the Senate this week.

If passed, the Bill would hand groundwater assessment powers and approvals for coal and coal seam gas mining to state and territory governments.

The leading opponents, including Seaspray farmer Julie Boulton, maintain the National Party would be voting against rural interests if it voted for the Bill, and especially asked Palmer United Party senators and Senator Ricky Muir to defend rural interests and vote it down.

The group of farmers and indigenous leaders signed an open letter to Senators, saying that the future of water resources was too important to leave to state governments, citing conflicts of interest and a history of failure with mining regulation.

In the letter they argued water was integral to farming, food security, indigenous life and culture, communities and Australia’s economy.

In particular they pointed to conflicted interests which were highlighted through the recent New South Wales’ ICAC investigations into political corruption.

All political parties previously voted for the water trigger to be added to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act so the Federal Government could assess impacts of mining developments on groundwater.

Now the government proposes through the amendment to be debated this week to hand these powers to the states and territories.