Gippsland South The Nationals Energy

Gippsland Nationals support moratorium extension

Gippsland Nationals MPs have welcomed the Liberal-National Coalition’s support for an extension of the onshore gas moratorium until 2020.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said the decision followed findings in a recent Auditor General’s report that Victoria was not as well-placed as it could be to manage a potential unconventional gas industry.

“We have always said we would not support any industry that risks our land and water resources. The Auditor-General highlighted that the state was not well-equipped to regulate the industry and that lots more work needs to be done to improve the regulatory framework if this potential industry is to ever proceed,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Yesterday’s decision by the Liberal-Nationals Coalition supports Gippsland communities that are worried that Melbourne Labor will rush out and give the green light to this industry before all of the facts are on the table.”

The Nationals Member for Morwell Russell Northe said the Auditor General’s report was vindication of the Coalition’s decision to bring in the moratorium in 2012.

“We should not forget that the last time Labor was in government, it issued 73 coal seam, shale and tight gas exploration licenses and approved 23 fracking operations with no community consultation,” Mr Northe said.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said The Nationals had taken a very cautious approach to the onshore gas industry and he was pleased the Coalition was supporting an extension of the moratorium.

“The Auditor’s report notes that the moratorium and existing secure gas supplies from Bass Strait give Victoria a unique opportunity to take this issue very slowly and further explore the science and the risks,” Mr Bull said.

“It also highlights that we don’t even know if there are commercial reserves of gas onshore in Victoria.”

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath said extending the moratorium until 2020 would allow time for the regulatory work recommended by the Auditor-General to be carried out and for the findings of the current parliamentary inquiry to be fully assessed.

“We cannot put the health of our natural environment at risk because Gippsland’s farming economy is critical for our state’s well-being,” Ms Bath said.

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