The Victorian Environment and Planning Committee, chaired by David Davis MP, failed to reach a clear consensus on whether the first recommendation – that the Victorian Government introduce a permanent ban on the exploration and extraction of unconventional gas – and as such the report will be referred to the Premier Daniel Andrews for further consultation.
It is likely that the ban will be continued for some years, and that Premier Andrews will review the entire report and its 15 recommendations to influence his decision.
“The recommendations from the parliamentary report condemns Victorians to the same supply uncertainty already gripping other parts of the eastern states,’ said Mr Phil Barresi, CEO of the Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA).
“˜It is disappointing that the once great gas advantage that made Victoria a stand out attractive industrial location with its affordable and secure energy is being put into jeopardy by a lack of bi-partisan agreement.’
These recommendations include, amongst others, that:
- The precursor internal submissions from Victorian departments and agencies that informed the whole-of-government inter-departmental submission to this Inquiry into unconventional gas be made public to inform the community of the different positions of departments and agencies.
- The Chief Health Officer commissions a full review and report to the Victorian Government on the possible human health impacts of an unconventional gas industry.
- The Victorian Government undertake a significant program to collect baseline data prior to any unconventional gas industry going ahead, including: (a) further sampling of groundwater monitoring bores (b) locating groundwater monitoring bores in areas of potential gas extraction.
- The Victorian Government establishes an independent water science committee chaired by an eminent scientist to oversee a water science and monitoring program, and provide independent advice on water quality and other environmental issues.
According to Mr Davis, the inquiry received more submissions than any other inquiry in recent Victorian Parliamentary history.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Chief Executive Malcolm Roberts commented “There is much at stake for Victoria. The state relies heavily on natural gas.
“Almost 80 per cent of its households use gas. A large part of Victorian manufacturing needs gas for energy and as an irreplaceable feedstock for its products. Almost 40 per cent of the gas used by Victorian industry is used as a feedstock to create products such as fertilisers, textiles, paints and pharmaceuticals.
“With many conventional gas reserves depleting, Australia will need to rely on unconventional gas sources to provide energy to homes and industry. The Committee has overlooked the potential for economic growth in regional communities and in local manufacturing.”?
New committee established
The news comes in the wake of Victoria’s Herald Sun newspaper publishing details of a leaked cabinet submission which has revealed that the Andrews Government has set up a secret committee to handle the looming gas price crisis.
The document allegedly warns the State Government that household gas prices are set to jump and suggests a committee is developed on how to handle the issue politically.