In 2017, the Victorian Labor Government placed a permanent ban on onshore fracking and at the 2018 election, the State Government promised to put that ban in the Constitution. Now, the Constitution Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2020 has passed through the Upper House and Victoria’s Constitution will be amended.
Minister for Resources, Jaclyn Symes said no other government in the world has gone as far as enshrining a coal seam gas and fracking ban in their constitution, “but we’re determined to make this a permanent decision”.
“We’ve listened to our rural communities who have told us they do not want the unacceptable risks that fracking brings that could impact our farming and tourism sectors.”
Friends of the Earth Melbourne, who campaigned from 2011 – 2016 to oppose fracking and unconventional gas drilling in Victoria, said they are delighted to see the ban enshrined in the state’s constitution.
“This is the first permanent ban on fracking in the country and has provided inspiration to countless people around Australia and the world.”
During the campaign, 75 regional communities declared themselves coal and gasfield free and some 26 local councils expressed concerns about drilling.
Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, the Hon. Keith Pitt MP, held a different view however, stating that the constitutional ban on fracking is depriving the state of the jobs and economic growth the industry can deliver.
“Unconventional gas projects are set to make significant contributions to the economies of Queensland and the Northern Territory, and at the same time help deliver affordable energy to all Australians,” Minister Pitt said.
“Research carried out by GISERA, a body led by the highly respected CSIRO, released a study last year, which found that fracking has little to zero impact on the environment.”
The Victorian Government states that the restart of the onshore conventional gas sector is on track for 1 July 2021. The restart follows three years of detailed scientific investigations by the Victorian Gas Program (VGP), which found an onshore conventional gas industry would not compromise the state’s environment or vital agricultural sector.
Conventional gas extraction does not involve fracking – it is a tried and tested method to access gas deep underground trapped by an impermeable rock layer.
South-west Victoria and Gippsland are the main regions set to benefit, where geoscience studies have located potentially significant onshore conventional gas resources. Production of the estimated onshore conventional gas resources could generate approximately $300 million annually for regional economies and create up to 6,400 jobs over the lifespan of these projects.